28.5.10

"We see guys trending to tradition, so [...] guys are looking for simple and traditional surroundings." - J.P. Mastey


It's safe to say that there is an emerging segment of the men's market that is into all things influenced by the 50s and 60s. Don Draper has become an international sex symbol, tracks by bands like The Drums are getting some serious air time and the old school americana clothing trend doesn't seem to be fading out just yet. You may be wondering where all of these like minded men meet to discuss important matters and have a laugh? Well, certain entrepreneurs are hoping that it will be (like in the 50s) at the barbershop.

The metrosexual movement of the early 2000s taught men that it was ok for them to take care of themselves. In order to do so, men started buying a variety of beauty products and even went as far as to get pedicures and fake tans. Although some men continue following such procedures, others want to look after themselves in a more masculine way. Hence, the return of the barbershop.

Baxter of California, a company known for its premium mens grooming products, has recently opened a traditional barbershop in downtown Los Angeles. BAXTER FINLEY, Barber & Shop offers its customers basic haircuts and shaves and that's it. Nothing fancy. J.P Mastey, the president of Baxter, explains that their barbershop "...will not be a lounge, or a place to get spa services. We want to keep it simple and build a reputation for excellence in barbering and services." (Baxter Finley blog) They don't want to be the men's hair salon du moment. Baxter Finley wants to create a lasting impression. They're doing this by rethinking the old business model and paying attention to detail. The store layout and decor was carefully designed to create a rustic, authentic, and most importantly, masculine environment. A place run by men for men. Nothing was overlooked. Even the barbers' uniforms were reworked. Baxter Finley collaborated with Steven Alan to produce gingham shirts that are to be worn exclusively by its barbers.

Toronto has also experienced a boom in men's barbershops over the past few years. Blood & Bandages was one of the first on the scene. Roger Janes' small space, consisting of only two chairs, provides 70s Playboy magazines for customers to flip through and plays music by classic bands such as the Rolling Stones while patrons wait for a trim. Crow’s Nest Barbershop takes it a step further by offering its mostly male clientele a beer with every cut. Their 1950s style space has a jukebox blasting rock n' roll tunes, a retro cash register and old school skate decks hanging on the walls. Jon Roth, the owner of Crow's Nest, just wanted "...a place where you can come in and see other men, talk shit, have a drink, get a cut and feel like you have a place of your own." These servicescapes are the perfect places to (as they say in french) "se retrouver entre hommes".

Barbershops make customers feel comfortable. As I mentioned in my first post about the realness movement, in uncertain times people turn to what they know. In this case, they're turning to a tried and tested man's sanctuary. In a barbershop, men are cared for in a safe environment by someone they trust (a skilled barber). This sacred relationship is currently being rediscovered. Barbershops carry countless meanings and memories and therefore hold a special place in most mens' hearts. Even if you have never been to a barbershop, the barber’s pole is an internationally recognized symbol that is a part of most people's neighbourhoods. All they needed was an update. Barbershops are usually not aesthetically pleasing but this perception can and will change with reputable companies such as Baxter of California opening well designed ones. It's only a matter of time before the new age barbershop becomes the go-to hair cutting place for men.

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