The following and setting of trends is one of the many things that makes fashion great, but it’s not something normally associated with men’s grooming. Sure you get hairstyle trends, but they tend to be very closely linked to the en vogue fashion of the moment. I’m talking about movements dedicated solely to men’s grooming; the products we use, and the look that they create. But this is starting to change. Products, brands, ideas and philosophies are evolving and recently I’ve been seeing signs of the first men’s grooming trend – Barber Shop.
It’s a concept that I touched on in my recent grooming for grooms article, with an increase in guys opting for a more traditional shave in the run up to a special event. Here I’ll explore the roots of the barber shop trend, the brands leading the way, and the products that buy into the traditional barber shop mentality.
The fashion industry is continuously obsessed with vintage, so too is popular culture. Whether it’s a second hand leather jacket from a thrift store, or dusting off the Nintendo 64 – we love all things old school. So in terms of traditional values, barber shop very much continues the nostalgic feel. And while there are no direct links to specific style trends, the barber shop grooming movement pays homage to many aspects of film and fashion. You only have to look at the TV we’re watching (Mad Men anyone?) or the fashion collections urging us to be ‘real men’ (French Connection in particular) to see where we’re drawing our barber shop inspiration.
So how does this all translate from a couple of key influences in to a fully fledged grooming trend? Well you can forget your pentapeptides and your star ingredient from the forests of Outer Mongolia. The barber shop trend is underpinned by luxury, masculinity and quality; drawing influences from the traditions of a long standing industry while adding touches of contemporary style.
Vintage Shaving Company
One of the brands at the forefront of the traditional, barber shop re-emergence is Vintage Shaving Company. An idea born in a Kings Cross pub (like all the best ideas!), Vintage Shaving Company set about creating something original, not just another product in the marketplace or something to make a quick buck, but a brand with real values and personality. One look at the 8 products on offer and it’s clear to see that the masterminds behind this young, innovative brand have nailed it.
Inspired by the traditions of gentlemen’s barbers, blending contemporary design and modern values with natural ingredients, recyclable materials and advanced formulations, their products are made in England with real quality and style. But as I’ve stated on these pages on more than one occasion, there’s no point in your products looking great, and having all the style in the world if they don’t do the business.
Forming the Vintage Shaving Company range and lining up in two banks of four, the Trad Collection and the Mod Collection each feature an Exfoliating Face Wash, a Shave Cream, a Daily Face Balm and a Eau de Toilette – formulated with either the Trad, or Mod fragrance.
The Trad Collection
Trad. n. Of, relating to, or being a tradition. A 1950s popular culture term.
Inspired by the traditions of the old school barber shop, The Trad Collection provides the ultimate in men’s luxury with striking packaging inspired by the red and white barbers shop poll and the finest quality ingredients.
The Mod Collection
Mod. n. An unconventionally modern style of fashionable dress originating in England during the 1960s. A term associated with style-conscious rebellion.
adj. Fashionably up to date, especially in style and design.
The striking unique fragrance forms the centrepiece of the contemporary yet vintage Mod Collection. The design screams Mod, while the fragrance and products scream quality and individuality. So much so that the Mod Eau de Toilette has cemented itself as one of my fragrances of choice, and one of my grooming products of the year so far.
Having tried and tested all products and fragrances within the range, I can say that Vintage Shaving Company backs all its style (and boy is it stylish) with equal amounts of substance. Not only do the products perform brilliantly, but the entire range is awash with personal touches that make this brand stand out in the ever crowded grooming market. With their values hinging on quality products, style and originality – Vintage Shaving Company are setting a new standard for men’s grooming. No longer will our men’s grooming products play second fiddle to their seasoned and professional female counterparts. We have a brand that’s tailored to all our needs, taking inspiration from traditional grooming practices and vintage style, to form one of the best contemporary grooming brands around.
Top Barber Shop Products
As well as Vintage Shaving Company, there are other stand out traditional barber shop products currently plying their trade in the grooming market. There are products from the old school, products from the new generation, and products combining the best of both worlds. But each choice below has one thing in common – they all bring the best of traditional barber shop grooming, and all the style, charisma and high performance workmanship that comes with it.
The pre shave routine is a real focal point of the barber shop ethos. Typically something that guys neglect in favour of a quick splash of warm water, this three pronged attack lays luxurious foundations for the shave ahead. First out of the blocks is one of the big guns – the hot towel. Softening stubble, opening pores and providing a generally invigorating experience, and it’s the cornerstone of traditional barber shop routines. For a modern take on the hot towel I recommend the Liz Earle For Men Cleanse and Polish Starter Kit, as it not only offers the hot towel experience, but a high performance cleanser to rid your skin of impurities too.
Next up, a Pre Shave Oil provides further beard softening properties, while also helping to lubricate extra tough stubble. Those with oilier skin types may wish to skip this step as it can leave skin feeling a little greasy, but it’s a god send for those who regularly experience redness and irritation.
And finally, the barber shop accessory of choice – the shaving brush. It’s probably the simplest way to incorporate a little tradition into your shave routine, and it’s also one of the most effective. There are a plethora of high quality brushes available on the market, but there are two that stand out for me. Firstly the Kent Traditional Pure Grey Badger Shaving Brush adds some old school style to your bathroom, not to mention shaving quality. But I’m also a huge fan of the men-u shaving brushes, with the Barbiere brush providing performance that will revolutionise your routine at a cost that won’t break the bank..
But let us not forget, your shave brush is nothing without it’s trusty shaving cream…
A pillar of the barber shop movement, and a key ingredient in the luxury feel of these grooming tactics, a lathering shaving cream is absolutely vital. Many shaving brands have one in their arsenal, but few have the quality and comfortable shave credentials of this bunch. Dab a small amount to the end of your chosen shave brush and lather until your hearts content, followed by a shave that will not be beaten.
Traditional Barber Shops use a cut throat razor, but we’re not looking to cut off a chunk of our chin during our morning routine so there are some stylish alternatives that don’t lose an ounce of creditability. Parker do an excellent range of safety razors that offer a reassuringly weighty handle to compliment the chrome finish, whilst the eShave Razors are perfect for those who prefer a conventional razor but still want and added touch of vintage style.
To complement our earlier handwork, the traditional way to finish a shave is with a quick splash of aftershave, but things have moved on since the 50s and we’re more inclined to opt for an aftershave balm nowadays. Combining the traditional idea with all the qualities of a modern aftershave balm, a quick splash of these post shave soothers and you’re chances of irritation and dryness will evaporate.
So there we have it, the Baber Shop Grooming Trend in all its traditional and luxurious glory. With the shaving and skincare market still on the rise, I’m sure this will be the start of many grooming trends in the coming months – so you’ll be the first to hear when one next emerges. In the mean time, if there’s a grooming topic you’d like me to cover or a problem in need of a product, please let me know and I’d be more than happy to offer my advice.
Until next time,