The Return of the Barbershop

Exactly two years ago I wrote a feature story for this very magazine about growing a beard. It highlighted the return of the beard with a-listers like Tom Hardy, that teddy bear Galifianakis and even pretty boy Ryan Gosling who were all rocking some fur on the cheeks.

Now the beard is omnipresent.

(Little known fact: I started growing a beard while writing that article. I haven’t shaved since. Dedication to writing and whatnot.)

Now the same is happening with the classic barbershop. Thank god. The resurgence is real. This is no longer about the misguided metrosexual styling of the early 2000s. This is about the everyday man looking good and feeling good. It’s about classic haircuts with quality fades. It’s about a comfortable, well-worn environ where men can go to shoot the shit. A respite from long, arduous working days. A getaway for a cold beer and a clean up around the ears, a straight blade on the neck, a splash of aftershave and a dollop of pomade to keep everything looking movie star fresh.

Like I said, thank god.

For too long, men were lost. Heading into salons, confused, out of place and feeling rushed. Never able to truly relax sitting beside women flipping through Cosmopolitan with their heads in those full head blow dryer thingies. Or worse, going to $15-a-pop shops that leave nothing to be desired, especially your haircut. That’s no place for men. Hell, that’s no place for boys.

“I think men just realized it was time to look good and take care of themselves in way they once did in days of the past,” says Jon Roth, owner of Crows Nest Barbershop in Toronto (he just opened up a new location in Hamilton). “Men look good with classic looking cuts and styles. It’s nice to see that men are heading back to the barbershop where they can get the haircuts they want and suit them best and also have that social element where everyone can gather and chat and stay connected to the community.”

Inside Crows Nest Barbershop 10
Photo by Ryan Bolton.

A good barbershop is an escape. A welcomed routined escape that is marked in the calendar as soon as an appointment comes to an end. It’s anticipated like a good Saturday night hockey match-up. It’s anticipated like the first beer after a long day at work. A good barbershop is a sacred safe haven. It’s straightforward, explains Dino Caracciolo, owner of Crown Shaving Co.

“We are dudes. We want a no muss, no fuss kind of shop where we can purchase grooming products without having to go to the drugstore or beauty counter, shoot the shit with our barber for 30 minutes, banter with other patrons and leave looking and feeling better than when we walked in,” says Caracciolo. “That’s what a true barbershop is.”

Justin Radam, an up-and-coming barber and owner of In the Cut, agrees. And he’s got clients like the Toronto Raptor’s star Kyle Lowry. “Today’s barbershop serves as a safe haven for men, much as it did in the ‘50s and ‘60s,” says Radam. “Somewhere we can have a conversation about the latest current events from the news, sports, politics, work and anything in between.”

Like the classic barbershop, even the hot towel shave has made a full recovery from almost oblivion. Maybe that’s the charm. It’s just a return to the classic straight razor shaves, the classic haircuts, the classic environment with a touch of nostalgia where men can be men. And feel like men.

“Things look good for barbering these days,” says Roth at Crows Nest. “I mean for years it looked like is was going to die out completely, but as of late it has had a huge resurgence. I’m glad to see all the interest.”

Originally published in Chill Magazine. Read the digital issue here


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