Do you know the vibrant local barbershop scene offers gentlemen more than just hairstyling choices so they can stand out – by a hair?
by Rachel Ong
Still remember the distinctive red, blue, and white revolving helical stripes hanging outside old-fashioned barbershops? Spinning relentlessly, they seem to be waxing lyrical about the good old days (and smells) of Brylcreem, baby powder, and Good Look styling gel. Gone are the familiar sights of the barber’s pole and large posters of men with razor-sharp hair partings and pompadours that would make any mother nod in approval. Cut back to present day; modern barbershops resemble a gentleman’s bat cave with swanky leather chairs, dark oak wood furniture, and squeaky-clean concrete floors. Instead of fatherly uncles, twentysomething suave gentlemen in shirt and tie trim brows, scrub grease off faces, and rid hair from anywhere their patrons wish.
Welcome to the new-age barbershops. To be specific, they are the personification of the quintessential gentlemen with a discerning taste for the finer things in life, well-versed in the art of grooming, and poised for distant travels from one hype bandwagon to the next. From being called hipster to artisanal and bespoke,
these barbershops refuse to be labelled. Instead, they modernise their approach and upskill their barbers, hoping customers still believe in the indulgence of a good old hot towel shave. Of late, mod-retro barbershops have mushroomed all over the island. Since Splice and The Golden Rule Barber Co. revitalised the
barbershop scene five years ago, newer entrants such as We Need A Hero and A Few Good Men have dipped their toes into the market and are starting another wave.
For starters, We Need A Hero is cut above the rest. Founded by the same people behind BrowHaus and Strip, it also offers facials, threading, waxing, and even IPL treatments. Similarly, A Few Good Men, who purports to be barbers and not just actors on its chic shop front, provides face massages, manicures, and
pedicures for male patrons. For instance, its spa pedicure comprises a foot bath, trimming and buffing of nails, exfoliation, and hand massage and moisturising, which are perfect for men who prefer to pamper themselves in the company of the like-minded. The latest arrival in town, LA Barbershop by EC House makes sure nothing above your neck is left unchecked. As part of the eight-tool cleaning process, expect ears to be tingled with peacock feather, horse’s
tail, and goose down as a way to loosen the canals before the great excavation.
If teleporting back to old England is your ideal blast from the past, you would be charmed by Truefitt and Hill. The early pioneer of the modern barbershop traces its hairy history back to 1805. Do not let the higher price point jolt you out of your time travels just yet. It has been certified by the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest barbershop in the world, and the accolades do not stop there. The company has the honour of counting literary legends, celebrities, and politicians like Sir Winston Churchill, Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde, Fred Astaire, and Frank Sinatra as loyal patrons. So the services rendered would be worth every penny as you would receive the same treatments luminaries enjoyed.
Following the footsteps of old English highend barbershops is Jermyn Street. Hailing from London, the five-year-old brand is inspired by the rich grooming heritage of its namesake locale, a mecca for distinctive gentle-fellas for over a century. Where class meets service, patrons get to slouch in the chair here and enjoy a tipple before experiencing some top-class barbering. Expect to get meticulous haircuts tailored to your head shape and natural hair growth finished with a traditional hot towel shave and precision beard trim. Pampering you right down to the nanometres of your hair, sophisticated salons like these exist to provide that exquisite touch of an exclusive club, where every man gets to be treated like a VIP.
With metrosexuality reaching fever pitch, there is no better time than now to enrol in the gentlemen’s shave club. In order to feel fabulously handsome, the men visiting barbershops are forgoing any hints of a floppy forelock. But is this enough? Folks who also want their facial hair to be on fleek, be it channelling Craig David’s signature sideburns circa 1999 or driving hairy ambitions via Movember, need to have their homework done.
For the explorers delving into the art of the razor or those who live, eat, and sleep facial follicles, The Panic Room and Sultans of Shave are the go-to for your supply stockpile. Both purveyors supply a dizzying array of beard oil, moustache wax, anti-static comb, and watersoluble pomade (for those with unruly hairpisodes, read: the wispy fly-off Trump types). As more home grooming kits roll out, modern men can extend their top-shelf arsenal, upgrade their grooming routine, and take a “shelfie” as they please.
From High Street (in City Hall area) to the main street, smaller-scale barbershops are also jumping onto the retro-metro bandwagon.
Located in heartlands, these humble stores are providing stiff competition to their neighbourhood traditional (the ones with retro hair posters) barbershops. Uncompromising in techniques, they come decked with refurbished vintage chairs and guitars in hopes of drawing a prosperous crowd of men. Even with the gentrification of the Harry Styles 2.0 haircut, barbers new to the trade can be seen at gentleman-like events and booths at buzzy flea markets to recruit and widen the community of dapper clientele in Singapore.