Can You Cut It?
David Marley chats to David Clemens, owner of David James in Duffield, and discovers why increasing numbers of men are forsaking salons and going back to
traditional barbers for their haircuts
My goodness, a visit to the barbers hasn’t half changed since I was a lad. Growing up in a mining community in Northern England in the 1980s there wasn’t much choice when a young man needed his mane trimming.
Forget Toni & Guy and Vidal Sassoon, the only cutting option in town was a furtive excursion to the local back-alley salon.
For the princely sum of 50p customers were treated to a miserable climb up a dingy old staircase that opened into a nicotine-cream-stained cutting room full of ashen-faced punters waiting patiently to be scalped.
This was a barbering backwater where the ‘Ford Model T’ approach to hairdressing was the only cut on offer – any style you wanted, as long as it was short at the back and the sides.
Thirty years on it appears that trend-conscious young men are demanding more from their hairdresser. Modern barbershops offering bespoke grooming services are on the rise, and increasingly becoming a must-goto destination when men want to keep their hair neat and tidy.
‘Men are more fashion-aware and adventurous – they want to look the best they can,’ says David James Clemens, owner of the eponymous David James company in Duffield, near
Derby. ‘They seem happier to spend their money on indulging themselves and many have come to understand that visiting a barbers – rather than a salon – is the best place for a hair cut.’
Stars from the world of film and sport continue to set fashion trends – and increasingly this includes hair styling and cutting. ‘A footballer or film star’s latest cut can send hundreds of young men rushing to the barbers so they can follow a particular style – and this has significantly contributed to the resurgence of barbershops across England in the last 10 years,’ he explains.
‘When I was growing up most people only went to have their hair cut when they needed it doing,’ David says. ‘Today, men come in for styling and trimming much more often because, to them, their hair is as important a look as the clothes and shoes they wear. So it is of little surprise that men are more conscious of how they appear – and I think this will continue to drive the success of the male grooming industry for many years to come.’
In recent years the rise in popularity of retro-cuts from the 1950s, including short and shaved backs and sides with textured tops, has meant that men need to visit the barbers more often to maintain the shape of the cut.
‘It is not uncommon for men to come and see us every week, with many spending a good portion of their income on hair treatments and styling products,’ explains David.
Stepping off the pavement of Duffield and into the urban-chic of David James, it is not difficult to understand why the modern male barbershop is making such a big comeback on the high street. Styled to an industrial retro-warehouse appearance, this mecca to barbering is striking, sleek, light and airy.
And the funky musical tones coming from the sound system give it a slightly edgy vibe.
Here you will find enormous comfy barbers’ chairs, gleaming white washbasins, bare pallet timbers, and handcraftedwooden furniture painted in textured chalky palettes of grey and black tones. Hip exposed electrical metal trunking with