Return of the Barbershop

May 5, 2015
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Pool table? Check. Cold beer? Check. Haircuts? You bet. At Barber and Co.’s Main Street location, getting a cut and shave isn’t just about trimming your mane a few inches here and there. It’s about having an experience. And what an experience it is.

Located at the corner of Main and 12th, this Barber and Co. location features restored Koken and Belmont chairs that speak of an era when men took pride in a quality shave and good conversation. With vintage posters on the wall, beer on tap, neon lights and a vintage Coca-Cola machine, this place truly blurs the line between barbershop and laid back social club. I’d come in here just to hang out.

“We’re more than just a salon,” says Yasemin, one of the many hipster barbers employed at Barber and Co. “Our clients are looking for the kind of services you can only get at a barbershop.” Services like no nonsense cuts, beard trims, and arguably one of the best shaves in the city.

 

The union of full-service barbershops now has locations in Gastown, Yaletown, the Financial District and Cambie Street, as well as Main Street. Each one is uniquely tailored to both its neighborhood and the clients they serve. Nods to barbershop tradition via subtle accents coupled with industrial aesthetics and a relaxed atmosphere are what sets Barber and Co. apart from the competition.

It’s not that barbershops are new in Vancouver. Go to a neighbourhood like Chinatown or Commercial Drive and you’ll find that this tradition is alive and well, but generally servicing an older generation. Barber and Co. builds on the idea of the barbershop by creating a hybrid experience that borrows techniques from your grandfather’s barber while also recognizing that their clients are not old-fashioned or prude when it comes to style.

They also turn the tables on barbershop tradition by challenging the gents-only shop culture. Yasemin points out that when she would visit family in her homeland of Turkey, she wouldn’t be allowed in the barbershop, let alone become a barber. Barbershops were spaces for men. Barber and Co., it seems, is a place for pushing the boundaries in the barbershop world not only by testing the definition of a barber, but also by who gets to come in. “We get a lot of women looking for shorter cuts,” says Yasemin, explaining that there are skills that are only taught in the barbershop tradition that are generally absent in Vancouver salons. Women and men who come in are looking for experienced hands with attention to detail. This skill, says Yasemin, is fostered by a strong commitment to educating Barber and Co. staff about new trends and techniques via workshops and seminars.

It’s no surprise then that Barber and Co. features some of the best talent in the city. But it is also home to some of the finest products to help care for your freshly cut ‘do or facial hair, be it a Fu Manchu, Soul Patch or Mutton Chop. Displayed like objets or curios in vintage trays and glass display cases throughout the shop are products from modern brands like Reuzel, as well as some by companies that have been around for hundreds of years, like London’s Truefitt and Hill. Recently Barber and Co. launched its very own line of products, including pomade, matte paste, and beard oil. And because this is Vancouver, all products are made locally, of course.

What sets the Main Street location apart from other shops is that it feels accessible; it’s still a place where walk-ins are welcome and people peek in their head just to say hello. You come here for a cut then spread out on the black leather sofa with a magazine and a beer. I can think of worse ways to spend an afternoon.

Photos: Allison Kuhl.