Barbering has gone upmarket.
No longer is a man’s haircut just a haircut. It’s a styling. It’s an experience.
It’s also getting more costly. Men long resisted paying the prices women do for hairdressing, but I think men’s vanity is growing, and the resistance is weakening.
The average men’s dry haircut cost around priced $28, but there’s an increasing number of excitinglooking barbershops with intimidatingly cool-looking barbers, and which are heavy on the faux nostalgia, opening up in our big cities.
And men are to be found willing to pay upwards of $30, or even $40 to get haircuts from them.
Go to a ‘‘grooming lounge’’ in Auckland and you might be charged $50, and $30 for a trim of your hipster beard.
Look, good luck to the barbers. They have skills, and are doing their best to earn as much as possible from them. Balance spending with saving Wealth accumulation involves restraint
Pay for the cut, not the experience
Transforming getting a haircut into an exciting experience is good business, and there’s an argument every man should get at least one hot straight-razor shave in their life just to feel how thrilling it must have been to live in an age before disposables.
We live in an age where social media has put a premium on looking like you are interesting and successful, even if you are neither.
So far, I’ve done my best to resist this pressure (successfully, as some barber readers may decide to maliciously point out).
In some ways being stylish is cheaper these days, thanks to our clothes being made cheaply by overseas factory workers, but that’s a small gain compared to the relentless rise in the real cost of an ordinary life that make the finances of many young people look unworkable over a lifetime, if they are to achieve what their parents did (house/car/kids/ retirement savings).
That’s why I scratch my head over men paying $30, $40, or $50 for a haircut, or the increasingly expensive male grooming items on sale. It’s threatening to drive the cost of male personal care up towards the outrageous costs of women’s.
Sure, were I a high-flying executive, top-end grooming would be an investment of a tiny fraction of my generous paypacket. It’d be loose change to me.
But for most men, whose paypackets are not so generous, male grooming has to fit into a budget that’s not stretching as far as it used to.
On limited budgets hard decisions have to be made.
One is that balance between the lifestyle you lead, and how much of the money you earn sticks to you, and how much ends up in someone else’s trouser pocket, including that of your barber.
There’s no two ways about it. Savings are made up of $10 saved here, and $10 saved there.
Perhaps men’s willingness to pay more for barbering is a result of displacement.
If you can’t afford a house or flat, or even to rent a decent place, and can’t bear to think how long the student loan will be with you, perhaps you might be forgiven for living for the now.
Barbering is hip these days, and more expensive.