The barbershop finally catches up with the times
For some stylish gentlemen, nothing speaks of summer better than a new haircut that's short and sporty. Now, one can go to the local barbershop. It's cheap, familiar, and unintimidating. However, an old barber may interpret a request for a trim around the sides and back as an order to turn a man into a jarhead.
Luckily, this town has seen the growth of "neo-barberism". The trend is all about updating and reviving the barbershop experience while avoiding the metrosexual baggage of a salon.
There are quite a few neo-barbershops around; it's only a matter of finding one to suit your personality. Here's a tour of the town.
Jack: The Modern Barbershop (3386 Cambie Street) is for khaki/golf/drive-a-Toyota-Tacoma guys. Give credit where it's due–Jack was one of the first establishments to recognize the yawning gap between the traditional barber and the emasculating unisex milieu. Admittedly, it's more man salon than barbershop. Female stylists cut the hair. The prone can play video games, and if one needs to keep up with the playoffs, the game's always on the screen. The interior evokes a sports-news set, which is fitting. According to a loyal Jack customer, "The kind of guy who goes to Jack is the guy who listens to or works at Team 1040 or Sportsnet and who has thinning hair and needs someone to be careful."
JD's Barbershop (235 Abbott Street) is best for artists, architects, and skinny-jean boys. Hipster credentials are established by virtue of the vintage motocross bicycle inside and the store's proximity to Livestock, one of the best sneaker galleries in the city. Décor is minimal, with serene teal walls supporting a menu board with all the services owner Joshua Down offers, including highlights and wash-and-blows–hey, this sounds like a salon! But wait. Don't let the genuinely women-friendly services fool; this Gastown store is a real barbershop. Says Down: "We have porno magazines. Guys can come here and hang out and talk trash, that's fine too. And if you want a good haircut, come on down, have a beer, but we aren't going to serve you a cappuccino." Amen to that, and amen to JD's for upholding a barbering standard: the hot straight-razor shave.
For tongue-in-cheek sideburns/muscle-car rockers and general extroverts, check out the Chop Shop (1007 Granville Street). Decked out like a garage and tattoo parlour, the Chop is owner-stylist Daniel Hudon. He cut hair in Yaletown for 13 years, with stints at Suki's and Paul Mitchell, but the hot-rod buff wanted to come up with, as he says, "something special, something where people don't come in to fit in but to stand out. And that's why we picked Granville–when all it was was porn, pot, and pawn. It's creative, and it's always going to have an edge and be anti-Robson."
Farzad's Barbershop (126–1208 Homer Street) is home to the fat-cat plutocrat and the Phat Kat crew. When Four Seasons chef concierge Bertine Hage gives her guests the lowdown on the city's deluxe barbershop, she sends them to Farzad Salehi. Absolutely classic without any of the old-school dinginess, his shop sports custom mahogany-and-leather seats and a Ducati motorcycle. But the big feature is Salehi's $25 hot shave: "I moisturize your skin, put on hot lather, then seven hot towels, then lavender oil, then a rich lather with a badger-hair brush. I shave with a straight razor. I clean you up with two hot towels, then I shave you again. Two more hot towels, I check your face, then I give two freezing-cold towels and massage your face with after-shave balm."