Most men have been to their local barbers at one time or another. A right of passage that most go through at a young age.
I remember my first time. His name was Paul. The owner of the barbershop at the end of my road. Next door to the ladies hair salon, Paul's shop was old, smoky and always busy.
As I took to the seat Paul introduced himself. Cigarette in mouth and with absolutely no desire whatsoever to listen to my instruction Paul proceeded.
Taking a grade 2 to the back and sides of my head whilst he attempted to flirt with his seemingly disinterested wife occupying the neighbouring chair. Cutting off most of my hair (it was the early 90’s and I wanted curtains), he mocked my mothers attempts at the previous haircut.
After what felt an age, but in reality was only 2 cigarettes, Paul was done. Finished. He tickled the hair from my face and neck and simply asked the question “gel?”.
I nodded and looked up. There it was in all its shimmering glory. GEL!!! An industrial sized tub of green gel that sparkled in the light.
Paul applied so much to my head that no matter how bad the cut (I looked like a poor mans Paul Wella) I was convinced. I must return!!
For years I received bad haircuts. The only triumph being my fleeting moment with the industrial sized gel at the end of each cut. Aside from that I realised it was time to move on.
Men then found themselves in hair salons for the next 15 years. Awkward and anxious. Convinced clippers were the devil. Only allowing scissor haircuts by girls that spoke only about their boyfriends, when actually they were single and completely uninterested.
Then, all of a sudden the barbers of old were cast aside and barbering was reborn!!
A bustling industry seemed to sprout from the ashes. Male grooming soured and reached new heights. BARBERS WERE COOL AF.
Tattooed men adorned with facial hair with moody tendencies known by bass guitarists. This new breed of barber dazzled with scissor, clipper and razor.
Men asked for throwbacks modernised. 20’S and 50’s haircuts were made wearable and easy to style. People grew beards. They shampooed them. They applied oils and waxed their moustaches.
For myself, I have been in the industry for 14 years. I have seen the change and growth. I’ve cut hair for £5 and shaved a face for £200. The growth is incredible and the change in attitude remarkable.
Perhaps I should thank Paul. Perhaps it was his awful haircuts that sent me down this road. Desperate to save men from the horrors of my own personal experience.
Whatever the reason, I am just happy that we are now seen as artists we are rather than the butchers of old.