The Barbershop Raneaissance in New York (and elsewhere)

The New York Times has a great article on the barbershop trend on how it’s sweeping Lower Manhattan in New York City.

“As soon as I saw the place, I felt this deep, inner yearning,” he said. “It’s very striking, with these red barber chairs and this fantastic photo-mural. And it’s rare to see well-dressed, well-groomed men cutting the hair of equally well-dressed guys.”

He was convinced that he’d found the spot where he could get the short, early-1960s-model haircut — complete with a neat side part — that he had wanted for years. And he was right.

Moreover, Mr. Chirico, 26, discovered what other young men in New York have begun to notice in recent months: In the city’s more style-conscious ZIP codes, there has been a renaissance of that much-loved old neighborhood standby, the barbershop.

Proving Fran Lebowitz’s oft-cited dictum that “you’re only as good as your last haircut,” authentic-looking barbershops have popped up all over lower Manhattan. Done up with, say, vintage lighting fixtures, antique barber chairs and, of course, a big glass jar of blue Barbicide on the counter, they are offering good, solid haircuts and shaves for less than half the price of a fancy salon cut. And in a kind of tonsorial version of chicken-or-the-egg, their arrival is perfectly timed, coinciding with the twin desires among urbane young men to tame their unruly locks and look neater and sharper from the neck up, and do it in all-American, gentlemanly, modestly priced fashion, far from the salon smells of peroxide and perfume.

The article points out that there’s a wide variety of barbershops in the city but that many of them can be found in lower Manhattan.

As we know very well, however, this trend goes far beyond New York, and the interest in vintage shaving methods is expressed in more ways than just the resurgence of traditional barbershops.

On eBay, according to a spokeswoman, there’s been a surge of interest in vintage shaving, grooming and barbershop paraphernalia. In comparing a two-week period earlier this month with a two-week period six months ago, she said sales of merchandise returned by the search term barbershop were up 77 percent, sales of Barbicide were up 60 percent, and sales of items found by searching for the words vintage barbershop sign were up 251 percent. On Amazon, archaic devices like straight razors and safety razors, and grooming products (including mustache wax and combs) from Gilded-Age-y brands like Edwin Jagger and Colonel Conk have been selling so well that Amazon created a special category — “classic shave” — to showcase them all. Charles Kirkpatrick, the executive officer of the National Association of Barber Boards of America, said that the number of licensed barbers had grown roughly 10 percent in the last two years, to 245,000 from 225,000.

These are trends that we’re happy to celebrate.


The Art of Shaving Barber Spa

What is this place? According to their website:

The Art of Shaving Barber Spa is a unique concept that combines traditional barber services with aromatherapy skin treatments. For the ultimate indulgence, experience our renowned Royal Shave, scissor haircut, or skin treatment performed by our expertly trained master barbers in the luxurious surroundings of our shops.

They now have locations all around the country.

Chalk this up as one of the new barbershop trends – mixing the old with the new.

The old Business 2.0 did an article in this new combination several years ago.

THE MANHATTAN BLOCK THAT HOUSES THE ART of Shaving’s flagship store is a preppy paradise. The main Brooks Brothers store is down the street, the Yale Club just around the corner. Inside the boutique, barbers wield horn-handled straight razors and badger-hair brushes, then soothe customers’ faces with postshave clay masks. An hour later the newly shaven emerge with shopping bags full of sandalwood-scented aftershaves, lemony preshave oils, and nickel-handled razors, hoping to re-create the experience at home.

Part barbershop and part pampering spa, the Art of Shaving is pouncing on the fast-growing men’s grooming trend by appealing to consumer nostalgia. Its 10 retail outlets–five of which have onsite barbers–are dedicated to making men better shavers by getting them to trade in their Barbasol. Though several premium shaving brands have emerged during the past few years, the Art of Shaving is by far the most successful. Last year the company booked a 15 percent net profit margin on more than $15 million in sales–half of which came from upscale department stores like Neiman Marcus–pulling past hipper brands like $3 million Sharps Barber & Shop and traditional lines like Truefitt & Hill. Now, with plans to open 40 more U.S. stores during the next two years, husband-and-wife founders Eric Malka and Myriam Zaoui think the Art of Shaving’s retro appeal can easily win over mainstream buyers. “You’d be surprised how often customers refer to their fathers and grandfathers,” Malka says. “That’s as emotional as it gets.”

Give us your thoughts if you’ve checked it out, but we’re all for new ideas in this area.


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