Cut it, snip it, fade it, pomp it, gel it, shave it, beard-upgrade it. No, it's not the making of a chart-topping jam by Daft Punk, it's your frigging hair, man. And it's kind of a big deal, or at least it should be. Black barber beard styles.
Nowadays it seems like guys pride themselves more on the shape of their manes than their motors. In other words, the topic of hair maintenance has become a touchy subject for the fellas. Should something go awry under the care of a renegade hairstylist waving a suspicious pair of sheers within a mile radius of your gelled-up locks, by gawd, there'll be hell to pay. And since the Mad Men and Jay Gatsby explosion of slick side parts and fade-style cuts surged onto the scene, things have only escalated. These days men simply expect more from their stylists.
But where can they go to turn their great expectations into reality? Going to a regular hair salon, one that caters mainly to women, would mean running the risk of looking metro, demanding, or worse, high-maintenance. Men crave a safe haven, a place to call home among other equally picky members of the male tribe, somewhere they can sip a well-deserved colada or Scotch and enjoy the best hot shave of their damn lives. But does such a place exist?
They sure do. In Miami, barbershops are striking back hard. And they're not just looking to aid you with top-of-the-line, VIP services teamed up with a killer cut. They want to give a 360-degree experience of kicking up your feet and watching the game, all while transforming you from "Meh, he's aight," to "Dayyyyummmm -- hold up, lady-killer."
Here are the top five barbershops in Miami (in no particular order):
Ask any guy rockin' a trendy do, hanging out around downtown and its surrounding areas, where he got his hair did. They'll all say the same thing: "Churchill's." No, not the pub, the barbershop! Unlike its grungier named twin in Little Haiti, Churchill's Barber Shop makes clients feel like a million bucks. Upon your first step in, you're warped back in time to sweeter days, when Bogart, not Gosling, commanded the screen, thanks to its rich, wood paneling and full bar.
Yes, you read that right. They have a full bar. Yeah.
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Aside from its sterling customer service and clean shaves and cuts, perhaps the best part of this blast-from-the-past barbershop is the ultra blast-from-the-past shoe-shine service. Who the hell sees one of those anymore? As if giving your old soles a face-lift (or maybe just some Botox) wasn't enough, the prices for quality are insanely low. Men's haircuts start at $25 smackers and hot shaves at only $30. If you're having a particularly exceptional day, why not get both at the same time for only $49?
OK, so it's not solely a barbershop for men. But with so much male clientele buzzing up an undercut in its vintage-inspired chairs, it might as well be considered one. Book a haircut here and you'll most likely wind up sitting next to a chick -- but she's not your stereotypical highlight whore talking the stylist's ear off about boyfriend problems the night before. Like you, this chick also has a strong affinity for clippers, buzzed sides, and long tresses on top. The only difference is she's dying her hair an iridescent blue.
You, on the other hand, need something respectable yet eye-catching. And this "hair addiction" hot spot in the heart of midtown likes to think of itself as that perfect middle ground between edgy and professional. "You need to go by personality and lifestyle," shop owner Luca Castaldo says about adhering to his clientele's needs.
And while the shop enjoys forging custom chops of the reverse mullet and shag variety, it's the bespoke decor that will throw you into a stammer of disbelief. "Whatever you see is handcrafted. I built it myself," Castaldo says in a strong yet charming Italian accent while pointing to pieces like the rusted-out metal paneling on the walls of the newly added space, which opened only a couple of weeks ago. The extended new expanse also harbors repurposed wine barrels as pedicure tubs and a wall made of bricks from old Chicago factories.
Trends in interior design is one thing, but when it comes to the revolving door of men's hair trends, Castaldo says, "I think the world is changing a little bit. Right now there's a huge retro trend with the pompadour, bordering on a rockabilly look. But I'll always try to upgrade it to something different." And his word on the finicky brotha with the lofty demands? "It's unbelievable how picky guys have become, which is nice. It's nice to see a man take care of himself more than a woman." Aye.
Aside from the all-night ragers and papis whipping around on Euro-chic Vespas, the beach has so much more to offer you and, above all, your hair. Enter Sloane Square to the scene. The four-year-old barbershop coasting on Alton Road's periphery has an exclusive advantage over the other guys in the barber game: memberships. Think of it as a Skull and Bones type of setup, but for hair and minus all the CIA conspiracy theories. And with all the construction chaos polluting the majority of Alton, said memberships -- starting at a reasonable $60 per month -- have helped owner Todd Goldenfarb and his business at Sloane Square stay afloat.
"The membership guys are coming in and making the effort," Todd says while assuredly sipping his pungent, house-made colada. "They said that this section would be done in six weeks. And then it'll be really nice," he says. "It's just this shit has to get out of the way."
But until that day shines its head through the construction smog, Todd and his crew of topnotch barbers will continue to give the best trims and "gentleman" cuts the South (Beach) side has ever seen. Why else would they land multiple features in big-name magazines such as Details and Travel and Leisure, not to mention rumors of catering to a trè,s reputable list of celebrity clientele (which remains very hush-hush, secret society, and all)?
"The real key to the store, besides keeping everything clean and getting all the press, is the staff we have -- they're the best in town," Todd boasts about his team like a proud papa. "Whether it's a gentlemen's haircut on a 80- or 90-year-old guy, a young hipster, or a child, we have the ability to meet everybody's needs." Talk about eclecticism.
Wouldja look at that? Why, it's our Wynwood neighbors. But this indie-rustic salon/barbershop didn't make the cut just because it's a stone's throw (if not closer) from New Times headquarters. This barbershop is genuinely cool as shit. Who has a freaking foosball table in the middle of all the beard-trimming action and base touchups?
Some might even knight this newbie the class clown of barbershops. "We have comedy nights every single Art Walk. People really love that," says Monica, manager of the shop. "We have an open bar, comedians come out. We take the chairs away and it's just people hanging out. It usually starts at 9:30 p.m. and runs till about midnight, and everyone just has a good time."
But making people laugh so hard to the point of pissing themselves isn't the main objective here. Turning out dudes' shags and giving guys a place to chill is much higher on their list of priorities.
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"Now the guys have their own little space, their own little man cave. We have a TV back there, we have beer, we have foosball..." Anyway, being an adult is so overrated. Glad to see someone else agrees.
Contrary to the rest of the contenders on the list, for Primos Barber Shop, it's all about family. For the past four years, cousins -- AKA primos -- and owners Eddy Aja and Danny Roblejo have been catering to an array of demographics -- anyone from the quintessential family guy, who'll gladly tote his wife and kids along for his much-cherished time of masculine pampering, to the young, single entrepreneur in dire need of therapeutic release after a long week in the office.
Though the Pinecrest hair hub sports a more traditional aesthetic, it's not limited to just traditional styling. "This salon isn't urban per se, but we definitely have stylists who can accommodate urban-style haircuts," Aja admits. "I think the culture of the grooming took a different turn in Miami than L.A. or New York, where mixing fashion and culture is a little bit different than it is here."
And aside from the familial acceptance from fellow patrons and resident barbers alike, it's their hot-towel shaves that keep the fellas coming back for more. "Our hot-towel shaves are really top-of-the-line," Aja says. "Every single one of our barbers, with the exception of one, does a hot-towel shave. And the products we use are amazing." He swears by the men's grooming line Jack Black. "Not a lot of barbershops do that." And just like the abundance of different services offered by the old-time-inspired shop, its stylists are just as multidimensional, ranging from industry vets wrangling sharp sheers for more than 40 years to new-school up-and-comers with inherently adept hands. "If you come to Primos, you'll find a barber who is right for you."