Barbershops Boom


Don't get in a lather about the economic downturn: just head for your local barbershop.

Old-school barbershops are on their way back, reports the Economist, with the number of listed barbers in the UK doubling since 2001.

The magazine interviewed Caroline Cox, fashion historian and consultant. She wonders if the economic downturn has led to a return to old-fashioned masculinity. “If we worry about the future, we tend to take refuge in the past,” she said. And there’s nothing more manly than a barbershop.

In the USA, where barbering is more strictly licensed, salons are also seeing a demand for barbering. Ray Middleton of Joe’s Barbershop in San Francisco describes barbering as the in-and-out, short and sharp end of the trade, and it’s here that business is booming.

But the top-end salons are doing well too. The Economist reports that big French firm L’Oréal believe the British market for men’s grooming gear is growing twice as fast as that for women’s.

Did you know? In times long past, in addition to grooming services, barbers used to double-up as doctors and dentists. They would pull teeth and therapeutically bleed their patients. This service is said to explain the red and white striped poles often displayed outside barbershops – a reference to bloodied bandages. Nice!