Much like we’ve seen with fashion and with music to some extent, the male grooming industry over the past few years too has undergone an old-school vintage renaissance of sorts. From the late 1800s right up until the early ‘70s, barbershops were sanctuaries men frequented not only for clean cuts and fresh shaves, but as a forum to chop it up and discuss freely such topics as sports, women, politics and all other kinds of idle banter. However, with the invention of the safety razor, men the world over swapped out their once ritual weekly visit for the much more time and cost-conscious DIY shave. For those of us old enough to remember, let’s not forget the eclectic hair style invasion of the ‘80s and ‘90s that more often than not materialized in swanky spa-like salon setups — further pushing the quintessentially classic barber experience out the proverbial window. Shave styles 2016.
Nowadays, with more and more gentlemen craving authenticity by way of age-old craftsmanship, a certain revival towards these customary shops has been once again been thrust into the spotlight. Sparing no expense nor on patron experience, proprietors continue to journey far beyond the extra mile ensuring experiences remain genuine before all else. Here, handcrafted cocktails and artisanal coffees present nothing out of the ordinary, spaces come lined with antique furnishings while potions, cremes, stale tobacco smoke and glass jars half-filled with colorful elixirs bombard the senses. In what can aptly be described as a nostalgic step back into time, many shops have lingered around — completely steadfast in offering old-fashioned grooming artistry. We’ve comprised a list of 10 standout shops that continue along the same path of barber mastery as those who came before them.
In operation since 1947, Sweeney Todd’s Barber Shop is considered somewhat of a neighborhood institution to the city’s residents offering the exact same haircuts and straight razor shave services much as it did all those years back. Carefully preserved are the original floors, chairs and fixtures, while the continuous loop of classic tunes transport you back 50 years into time. Customers are invited to add their names on the guest chalkboard, peruse the carefully curated selection of magazines, and even treat yourself to a classic style shoe shine. The space is also available for private bachelor parties.
First opening its doors in downtown NYC, Fellow Barber provides a means to preserve and enhance contemporary barber culture. With a reputation quickly solidifying as master grooming artisans, multiple locations followed across the state and later into San Francisco. Based on the foundation of its internal staff, each locale proudly caters to the needs and styles of its presiding area, yet boasts the same quality craftsmanship throughout each establishment. Adorned in vintage Koken barber chairs, mahogany sconces and salvaged maple flooring, Fellow Barber presents itself as a modern day time warp. While in the shop, patrons can opt for a custom haircut, straight razor shave, beard trimming/shaping and later peruse its wide assortment of in-house products.
Sharps Barber and Shop
Upon entering Sharps, one would do well to replace the word “grooming” with “prep” as they go on to explain the former brings to mind an air of stuffiness — not at all what describes its no-frills style service. Spread out strategically throughout London town, each space though features polished oak finishes, checkerboard floors as well as Takara Belmont Apollo barber chairs. Fast closing in on its 15-year anniversary milestone, the shop offers traditional cuts, beard trims and straight razor shaves, while also providing a varied assortment of beverages including coffees, lattes and cappuccinos just to name a few.
Why are beards in style
A span crossing the 15-year mark, Brent Pankhust honed his skills working at some of the most exclusive shops in and around London. Along with a masterful skill set, Brent opened up Pankhurst — part speakeasy, part gentleman’s club, all barbershop, which offer a wide range of services such as traditional cuts, classic wet shave, friction scalp massage, hot towel face massage, in addition to others. In what can be considered as a comprehensive grooming industry forum, Pankhurst also crafts its own set of lotions, pomades, shampoos, conditioners, razors and brushes, while also volunteering expert advice through a collection of short instructional films. While enjoying a glass of fine whisky, customers can enjoy easing into a specially commissioned bespoke barber chair upholstered by Bentley motors craftsmen.
A fixture in Toronto’s Lakeshore Boulevard West area since the late ‘40s, the Nite Owl Barbershop has been instrumental in maintaining the grooming needs of its local residents for decades. After laying idle for almost 10 years following the retirement of its original crew, Brian Hurson took the reigns and brought the relic back to life in efforts to preserve its rich history. Apprenticed under a master craftsman in Dublin’s Waldorf Barbershop, a legendary establishment founded in the late ’20s who also are responsible for training/guiding Schorem — another iconic shop in its own right — Brian has gone on record to say that he learned how to shave with a straight razor before even learning how to cut hair.
3397 Lakeshore Blvd. West
York Barber Shop
Dubbed the Original New York Barbers, York Barber Shop has been serving the grooming needs of the city’s bustling metropolis since first setting up in 1928. Keen on keeping its longstanding tradition of providing quality cut and shave services while extending a backdrop for its patrons to chitchat amongst themselves, York has done well over the years to keep the needs of its core customers front and center. “Dear Frankie” is a package paying homage to Frank “Ol Blue Eyes” Sinatra, the iconic crooner who they feel best personifies stylistic excellence, while “Like a King” aims to further spoil its customers with additional massage and manicure services.
Pall Mall Barbers
Established in 1896, the team at Pall Mall boast in excess of 350 years worth of industry experience between them. Now with three shops spanning the central London area, the heritage shop to this day embraces old fashioned styling sensibilities highlighting an interior space generous with wood paneling accents and vintage leather seating, not to mention a classic barber pole. Aside from custom cuts, straight razor shaves, styling and cleanse treatments, Pall Mall Barbers also afford shaving lessons for those wanting to add the art form of razor shaves to their arsenal.
Trafalgar, London WC2H 7EP
Gornik & Drucker
As the story goes, legendary barber Harry Drucker long ruled Hollywood’s famed barbershop scene since opening Drucker’s in 1936. Flash forward to the ‘70s and here a young gun hotshot type by the name of William Gornik, after acquiring the Rothchild shop, began to amass quite a loyal following of his own — sparking a long, heated rivalry. In 1989, the duo joined forces to create the juggernaut that is Gornik & Drucker. Catering specifically to men, old-school barbering techniques are employed rendering such services as cuts, shaves, skin treatments and manicures to clientele of all classes — including celebrities, politicians and notorious gangsters.
Joe’s Barber Shop
A no fuss, no nonsense kind of place, Joe’s Barbershop has been serving up Chicago’s Logan Square area for nearly 50 years now. Claiming no line-ups, no fades, no graphics and no braids since 1968, the crew at this neighborhood institution stick to what they do best — offering traditional cuts, straight razor shaves and great conversation, much like they did when they first opened its doors. As listed on its website, they refuse service to anyone under the age of 21 due to the shop’s adult content and nature, not to mention serving complimentary alcoholic beverages.
Current beard styles
Geo. F. Trumper
Pampering distinguished gentlemen since 1875 is this traditional Mayfair barber. Operating from three locations spread across Central London, each Geo. F. Trumper location highlights a time-honored historic appeal with its mahogany paneled private cubicles and vast array of vintage grooming requisites. Aside from its customary services such as cuts, shaves, beard maintenance, massages and facials, Trumper also supplies a wide range of care products such as fragrances, hair care, skincare, shaving kits, accessories and various leather goods.