The days of a five-minute chop job are over. Turns out we men do give two snips about our hair, and we’re increasingly paying attention to trends up top. Which makes sense considering a bad haircut is the one poor style choice you can’t shrug off at the end of the day. A good cut (and quality styling products to shape it) is what keeps us looking our best.
Nobody knows that better than Uppercut Deluxe. Inspired by the classic cuts of 1950s America, the men’s haircare label began in 2009 as an alternative to the bog-standard products available on the market at the time. Founders Luke Newman and Steve Purcell were keen to reignite traditional barbershop culture, but didn’t stand a chance without the right tools – so they made their own.
With a range comprising hair pomades, waxes and shaving products, the Australian brand quickly caught the attention of partners worldwide. We sat down with one of its UK ambassadors, Chris Brownless – owner of North West Barber Co. and expert barber – to talk everything from 2017’s key hair trends to the importance of barbershop culture.
FashionBeans: We’ve seen a real resurgence in classic, old-school cuts – like the pompadour – in recent years. Why do you think these became popular again?
Chris Brownless: “The timeless style of eras like the 1920s and 1950s played a big part in the revival of traditional cuts. And for that, we’ve got to thank shows like Peaky Blinders and Boardwalk Empire. I’ve spoken to so many guys that label both as an influence, and along with the rise of social media, we now have a huge source of inspiration at our fingertips. It’s cool when a client brings in a photo of a haircut by another barber that they found on Instagram. Google searches for men’s hairstyles actually outperformed those for women’s this year too, which shows just how aware men are becoming.
“These old-school styles often entail a lot of maintenance, though. Twelve months ago, a large proportion of guys wanted slick-backs and pompadours, and while there’s still a demand for these, they need a lot of product, regular cuts and longer hair to play with – three things that can be a chore for most men.”
Are there any other trends you’ve noticed from the barber’s chair this year?
“Traditional styles are still fairly popular and I think they always will be in our barbershop. Some customers will have the same cut until they’re 85 – it’s become part of their identity and it’s easy to stick with what you know, right?
“People like the fact that there are finishing techniques that stand the test of time – the fade, tapered necklines, a short back and sides. These are techniques which have been around since the 1920s; they’re timeless.
“But we’ve also found that more and more men are now requesting extreme takes on classic styles: undercuts, disconnected sides, etc. Sometimes we have to talk people out of them, when we see that the request is more of a novelty than realistic or wouldn’t work with their hair texture/growth patterns. Going back to the TV example, a 1920s-esque Peaky Blinders hairstyle will not always work with the client’s lifestyle – and that’s a big thing for us.
“Some of the first things I ask a new client are: what do you do for work, what are your hobbies, do you use a hairdryer and how long do you want to spend on your haircut every morning? That’s how I determine a suitable suggestion for both hairstyle and Uppercut Deluxe product. We don’t want to dictate, but we are here to advise and need to offer our expertise – that’s what the barber service is all about.”
So what’s set to be the next big movement in men’s hair?
“Shorter, messier cuts are the way forward. They’re quicker and less demanding for the typical guy. It’s not even just men; people in general today don’t have the luxury of time to spare, so they want something that is versatile enough to work for every occasion.
“These natural, low-maintenance cuts reflect our modern lifestyle; unlike a traditional pompadour or high-shine hairstyle, which take a lot of time and effort to create each morning. Plus, a less severe cut always requires fewer trips to the barber, and often looks much better during that tricky in-between period.”
Is the trend for beards still alive and well? And will it continue into 2017?
“Definitely. There’s a huge focus on moustaches and beards currently, and the resurgence has a lot to do with increased options for maintenance. Uppercut Deluxe offers specialist products like Mo Wax and Beard Balm to ensure facial hair is kept healthy – just because it isn’t on the top of your head, doesn’t mean it’s any less deserving.
“It’s also important to remember that a beard or moustache still needs regular trims and cuts, even if you’re going for a rugged look.”
Which of the products in the Uppercut Deluxe range is your favourite?
“We’ve just released Matt Pomade, which is one of the most user-friendly and versatile products I’ve ever used. It suits every hair type and length, is easy to apply and, because it’s water-based, washes out easily once the day is done. A real Jack-of-all-trades.
“But where this product really comes into its own is with the move towards relaxed, textured cuts – it’s lightweight yet offers great all-day hold, and the natural dry finish enhances texture and movement through the top.
“To apply, take a pea-sized dollop, rub it in the palm of your hands and then run through the hair from root to tip. You only need to spend 30 seconds or so styling – your hair should appear effortless.”
What’s the best part of working in a barbershop for you?
“To me, it’s like a family or a club, because it’s a place where guys confide in the barber and in each other. Some clients see their barbers more than their friends because they feel that bond and trust.
“There’s definitely a sense of community in our barbershop and everyone respects that. You really notice this when people are time-stretched, but they still make time for their regular haircut. Guys come in and tell us how hectic life is, yet they still made the effort to book an appointment in advance, drive to our barbershop and spend time in the chair before they get back to normality. It’s an escape.
“Guys come into the shop and feel part of the social aspect. They take a part of that away with them – that’s the best bit for me.”
Shop the full Uppercut Deluxe range now at uppercutdeluxe.com.
For appointments at North West Barber Co., call: 01254 382706.