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Barbers...Why do people pay £50 for a trim?

Words + Photograph by Luke Alland

If you are one of those people that splashes the cash on a haircut, please tell me what it is you're actually getting? Is it the service, the chat or is it that you have commitment issues...?

I've got a theory, if you've got shorter hair and you're going to get a haircut, find a barbers that is next to an estate and has been open for over three years. There is no way on earth a bad barbershop can make it that long in those surroundings if they dished out dead trims. We all know within the week, word would've gotten around and the place would be shut down faster than an illegal rave.

There is an element of trust that you have to have with a barber, something that is universally understood. Once you've got your barber, they're the one. Hence why, I've got my guy Mohammed at 'Universal Barber' in King's Cross. Granted the chat is relatively tame, but it stands that I'm not there for that. I'm there for a service, nothing else. Being honest, most visits now just consist of him reassuring me I'm not losing my hairline—something I'd be more than happy to pay for, without him even cutting it!

Whilst I know culturally there are differences between the experience that someone wants within a barbers, I am very much an in-and-out type of guy. Wearing glasses for most of my life, I never had the opportunity to actually see a haircut happening in real time. It was always a gamble taking them off and praying to the Shearing Gods that I wouldn't come out looking horrific. Therefore, I am still very much at the enjoying-the-live-action-stage of wearing contacts.

With the rise of male grooming, and thankfully men just deciding to look after themselves in many aspects of life, having a fresh fade for a night out (or trying to keep the mane in check) has risen to the top of most men's agendas. But this has given way to a new wave of perfectly-marketed barbers offering a 'better' service than your local's £12 trim. I think the idea of being offered a whisky during a haircut is just a bit strange. Most of the time, I'm going too early in the day, and if it's built into the price then Christ alive I'm not swapping that out for a coffee. I just don't understand if there is a £38 skill gap between a scheduled appointment at a grooming room, compared to a walk-in at a local.

Naturally, I know plenty of blokes who are very keen to keep their barnet in check and the idea of letting their fade grow out is absolutely unthinkable. I've never been one for a fade—for some obscure reason I think it's a younger man's haircut and as I keep being reminded, "you ain't about that life". I don't think I can pull it off, and considering I've not been clean shaven for about seven years, I don't intend on making myself look younger any time soon.

After lockdown in 2020, when the Amazon orders for clippers and the Youtube views on 'How to Cut Your Roommate's Hair' went through the roof, you couldn't get a walk-in or a haircut for love nor money. I was in a great position in that my flatmate was on furlough, and he decided to become an expert on haircuts by watching countless hours of videos. Lo and behold, both me and my other flatmate set up a barbers in the kitchen and within a few hours, got rid of our Bieber-esque fringes. To this day I don't think I've had a better haircut... and that was free.


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