Step into The Barberhood in Sydney’s CBD and you will be immersed into an old-world Barber Shop. Amongst the scents of their signature grooming products, you will immediately be greeted by Barbers adorned with a smile, cutting, primping, shaving, all amongst a wave of chatter, and friendly banter.
Manchester born 24 year old Oliver Burns is no stranger to men’s grooming, he made the move to Sunny Sydney in 2016 where he started his career at The Barberhood, a big switch from his background in engineering and electrical. Ollie and I sat to chat about the synergies between old-world tailoring and grooming, trends for the year, and the art of good conversation.
To be a good Barber… Although a knack for making a man look their best is key when entering the realms of Barbering, similar to tailoring (and bartending), to be a good barber, an integral part is the skill of holding a good conversation. “I could be dealing with 15 to 20 clients a day from all sorts of backgrounds, but things do get personal and you find yourself hearing about your client’s holidays, business ideas and overall goals,” says Burns. With a style session being the one time of the day to relax and unwind, it seemed to me that getting your beard trimmed with a dedicated barber could almost be as relaxing as knocking back a whisky with your Tailor.
Grooming trends for the year and key advice… “Long hair is coming back into fashion, with some men going for the more natural, wavy look,” says Burns, “To go more natural, you can use a sea salt spray, or use a powder to give you a more wavy, textured beach look which is the style that we’re seeing come in.”
With several years of grooming under his belt, I asked Ollie about his key tips to successful grooming, “Always cross reference with your Barber what style to go for, and be sure to invest in yourself—spend a little more on a good quality conditioner or shampoo, and just like a skincare routine, get yourself into a morning routine of grooming your hair.” And when it comes to suiting up and pairing your hairstyle to your suit? “Make sure your hair is tidy, you don’t want your hair to look messy as it’s the final piece to your outfit—keep everything looking schmick, and match your hair to the occasion—nice tuxedo, equals well polished hair.”
Men’s style and grooming... “Women generally can be exposed to a realm of grooming luxuries such as make up, nails, tans, hair and eyebrows. For men, I think it’s not so much about the luxuries, but all about the staples—dressing well and having a good haircut—men regularly go for a haircut, with most coming in every 2-4 weeks,” says Burns. With a soothing ambience and jazz tunes, The Barberhood stores, like InStitchu Showrooms, are a haven amongst the bustling CBD, a place where gentlemen can lay back, and leave a new and reinvigorated man.
Confidence and customisations... With good grooming, styling and looking good, comes confidence. “If you go to a Barber and get a bad haircut, you leave feeling bad. If you don’t feel good in something, then your confidence is going to drop. That’s why my favourite part of my job is that I can make people feel good through careful guidance,” says Burns, “By careful guidance, what I mean is that sometimes a customer may walk in with a picture of the haircut that they want, which may be curly blonde hair when they have thick, straight black hair.” This is when the skill of education may come in, where Burns uses his eight years of expertise, compromise and judgement to work on a style where the gentleman can walk out feeling their best, as well as looking their best to the public eye.
Working at The Barberhood... “The Barberhood is one of the most upmarket Barbers that I have worked in, the first one I worked in was a suburban Barber where it was almost about one type of haircut,” says Burns, “The Barberhood is full of different personalities, and people that make you hungry to be successful, from the team to the clientele”.
Chasing dreams... Accept or deny it, we’ve all been at the stage where we have hopped onto social media, to see photos of friends travelling, moving overseas, or beginning new chapters. Ollie’s life motto? “Go for it! Don’t keep questioning and just go for it. Don’t be scared of failing,” “If you’re not 100% happy with your situation, try something else, go for a job that makes you happy, one where you don’t mind going to work” says Burns.
Between Showrooms to Barbershops, suiting to shaving, it's evident that there is an abundance of similarities between custom tailoring and grooming - from the ability to customise your suit or shave to your style and personality, to the way that both simply give an immense confidence boost, to the magic of good conversation and how this can go hand in hand with style.