Modern men’s hairdressing is dominant in London now with the rise of Pankhurst, Murdock, Ted’s Grooming Room, and rumours of ‘peak beard’ abound. Usually masculine surroundings with leather, dark wood and musky aromas generally being the order of the day, these businesses are fundamental in changing the way that men preen themselves – making it more approachable, more fun and providing an experience rather than just a service.
Ted’s Grooming Rooms are making the experience more accessible by combining these spaces within their retail stores whilst Sharps also have concessions in both Topman on Oxford Street & Ben Sherman in Islington. Barber & Parlour (part of Soho House) in Shoreditch also incorporates a restaurant, bar, juice press and an Electric cinema in the basement – a great example of providing customers with a range of experiences all under one roof.
The Aveda Institute in Covent Garden has recently branched out into Men’s Grooming with a sleeker and more neutral approach. I was told that up to a third of their bookings now come from men – not unsurprising in Covent Garden with the media and theatre industries based locally.
On my recent visit there I opted for the full works of haircut, wash and style plus beard trim. This was not your average quick in-and-out trip to the barber; it was a much more ‘modern’ approach to barbering – my stylist discussed my preferences and what approach I took to my hair care (and beard care!) Like I suspect many blokes – my only order was “low-maintenance, please.”
I was treated to some rather wonderful smelling beard oil and an exfoliating hot towel. (At such establishments it is not unusual to be offered cut-throat shaves, moustache wax, ear singeing, man’s manicures and shoe-shines.) Somewhat disconcertingly the men’s section is in full view of the Le Pain Quotidien café in the next room, so every nick of the barber’s razor can be witnessed by the lunchtime crowd. This is where I think Aveda customers may take time to adjust. Just as our approach to style is to look both presentable and elegant but thrown together without a moment’s thought or effort; modern men like to be pampered but they don’t necessarily like to admit it.