Design + Products + Trends + People

The Death of Unisex

If you are a male over a certain age, then you might remember going with your father on a Saturday morning to the local barbershop. A black and white television set was in the corner or an AM radio station was on. The shop was full of men talking about last night’s high school football game and the smell of musk and aftershave permeated the air. Somehow, we drifted from this tradition much like other things in life. Corporate salons like Great Clips or Fantastic Sam’s took over and catered to everyone, male and female alike. Sure you would pass a small old fashioned barbershop from time to time, but they were always empty and this left you with a nostalgic longing for those long ago Saturday mornings with Dad.

Well things are taking another turn in the male grooming department. Salons for men have popped up, with pool tables, beers, sports channels, and sexy barbers. Razzledazzle in Miami, Capelli’s in Seattle, The Men’s Room in Milwaukee, Y Chrome in Portland, and The Boardroom Salon in Texas are such places that are nice…but they lack a true refined gentlemen’s spirit that we gravitate to.

We have progressed from our childhood excursions with our father to a more refined expectation in our barber and we most certainly don’t want our grooming to take place in a glorified sports-bar. What we want is a proper gentlemen’s barber, one that you might find at the end of Saville Row; a final stop after a fitting session at the haberdashery. A shop filled with hot towels, straight razors, aftershave in real glass bottles, and dare we say…a spot of tea! Well we have found two such places across the pond in the United States and our collective fingers are crossed for more places to emerge.

You might have heard of the Truefitt & Hill brand name of shaving products. Claiming to be the oldest barbershop in the world and the barbers to British royalty, a company shop and barber is actually in Chicago on North Michigan Avenue. Open 7 days a week, this is on our must do list for our next trip to the Windy City.

But our hands down choice as the best gentlemen’s barber in the country that we personally have experienced lies in the Crescent City..New Orleans. A late stroll on Magazine Street one night led us past a window display of antique razors and cuff links. Immediately we knew we had to stop by on the following day and we are so glad we did.

Aidan Gill for Men is the kind a place that we dream about. Greeted by a young man in a bow tie, we were shown the front retail area, full of creams, ointments, smells, razors, and everything else masculine. Immediately we made an appointment to come back for a shave on the following day. The next day we were greeted by another young man in a bow tie. Later while we perused the Aidan Gill website, Mr. Gill sports bow ties as well, so we surmise that this is part of the shop brand. In any event, the shave was an hour of pure heaven. Several rounds of warm shave oil formulated by Aidan Gill and hot towels were applied to our face and meticulous care was used by our barber to give us the closest shave we have ever had.

Mr. Gill is an experienced barber who is quite the men’s grooming historian. Check out the clips below to see some fascinating tidbits of the barber by Mr. Gill. And more importantly, if you are ever in New Orleans, while nursing that Bourbon Street hangover, head over to his two shops and rejuvenate your skin and your soul. In the meantime until we make another trip back to New Orleans, we will give the postal service a workout, by ordering bottle after bottle of Mr. Gill’s shave oil for home delivery.

Mr. Gill is unabashedly proud of his gender who proclaims the salons of today should adopt the phrase “Unisex is a dead word”. He is onto something with this concept that is way overdue.

Michael Spurrier. HighStreet. Cincinnati

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