Grandpa knew best.

Didn’t he?

NYC’s “barbershop renaissance” is bringing back the art of the no-frills cut and shave — served up with just enough hipster cred to pull the young and tattooed from the overpriced salon to the barber’s chair.

But is this new take on a classic legitimately delivering the goods?

“As cute or contrived as these places might seem — many are selling a kind of false nostalgia to customers too young to remember the real thing,” writes David Colman in this week’s NY Times.

And according to Colman, the old-school straight razor barber shop experience (rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?) can leave much to be desired:

They do give a decent haircut at Freemans, and can give you a straight-razor shave if you want it. But be warned: to men used to the Trac II or Mach3, the straight razor shave will come as a surprise. You feel as if you are trapped in a chair while your beard is intently licked off by a mountain lion with an 80-grit-sandpaper tongue. The word “luxury” does not come to mind.

What’s your take on the contemporary urban barbershop?

- Marisa

Manliness Redefined?

November 19, 2010

Thinking lots about Art of Shaving’s new ad campaign. And about ads and shaving in general.

I’m not alone.

Mark Asch of NYC’s L Magazine, gives his honest take on what seems to be a shifting representation of “manliness” in today’s shaving advertisements:

We’ve always looked to advertising for instructions in how to play the part of the person we want to be. This is especially true for something like shaving products: laden as they are with all sorts of father-son baggage, and walking a tricky line between man’s-manliness and ladies’-manliness, their advertisements have ever tried to appeal to our sense of what, exactly, “manliness” is. And that seems to be changing, as it does every so often.

He notes that while shaving ads used to feature rough and sexy imagery, the Art of Shaving campaign is taking a Mad Men-esque approach to the daily routine of shaving:

The ads, formal and retro-styled, play up the ritualistic aspect of shaving, implying some sense of carefully handed-down wisdom. (Effective for those of us who sometimes wish we had more frequent cause to get a shoeshine, say, and also a convenient strategy for a boutique carrying specialized products.) But what I really like are ads like the one in which the shaving model sports not a towel and musculature but a suit. Not that people shave in suits—just that people who’ve shaved tend to look good in suits.

Have we officially transitioned from a husky, Marlboro-man approach to manliness to a more rarified, dignified — and old-school — sensibility? If so, are guys happier in this new space, where ritual reigns and snappy dressing is a prerequisite?



Sterling Place

I can’t get enough of a good gift guide.

NY Magazine’s Holiday Gift Guide is exactly that.


Really good.

I say this not only because our killer shaving cream is currently featured in the carefully curated list (wooohoo!) — in the same line as my all-time favorite bloody mary mix, thank you very much — but also because this year’s guide led me to the third gift that I’m dying to give:

An Antique Handle Mach 3 Razor from Sterling Place, a shop in my hometown — Brooklyn, USA.

Pricey? Sure. Forgettable? No.

Get it for the one you love.

- Marisa



Unplug from the Matrix

November 16, 2010

Schick Quattro

Ever read something that causes you to jump out of your chair and shout, “yeah!” at the top of your lungs?

Me too.

The source of today’s cheer is “The Shaving Racket — How Are Gillette and Schick Getting Away with Ripoff Razors?” by Scott Thill.

Check this (I dare you not to respond with a hearty “wooohooo!!”):

“The official unemployment rate has held over 9.5 percent for over a year, and those are the baked numbers. Real unemployment numbers are higher. Consumers are having to pull back on the goods they used to gobble like pills. Five-blade razors with colored plastic grips, sold separately (and some argue exorbitantly) from replacement razors, suddenly seem like surrealism. But it’s more like consumption stripped of marketing: You use a razor to shave things. It’s not rocketry. You just unplugged from the matrix, which demands dumb hyperconsumption.”

I want to take Scott Thill to lunch. I want to shower his home in Blade Oil — proven to slow the effects of oxidation and extend blade life by up to 95%. I want to tell him that, yes, yes, yes, men (and women) everywhere can free themselves from the grip of  the overpriced, multi-blade hype.


- Marisa

I’m trying to figure out how to slip this little number onto my wish list:

Hair India: A Guide to the Bizarre Beards and Magnificent Moustaches of Hindustan

This is the next generation of coffee table book. A comprehensive tour of the wildly hirsute men of India by Richard McCallum — author and pogonologist — and Chris Stowers, renowned international photographer.

Amazon claims that the book is currently out of stock — and of course it is. This is good stuff. But I’m sure it can be found with a bit of creative hunting. I’m going to start looking now.

- Marisa

The holiday season is not yet upon us and I’m already fighting the pull of the gift certificate. For years, I have allowed the lazy, uninspired ease of an Amazon gift card to be my go-to present for the men in my life (specifically the gentlemen who have lived long enough to truly have everything).

But those days are over.

This year, I’m determined to give my dad a gift that won’t fit in an envelope, that can’t be shoved — and forgotten — in the inside pocket of a blazer. In a new Pacific Shaving blog series, I will highlight the most creative gifts for those who shave. That’s right. If you know someone who spends any time removing body hair, you’ll now be able give him — or her — the most creative, thoughtful gift he didn’t know he wanted.

Gift #1: Hammacher Schlemmer’s Weather Reporting Shower Mirror.

Shave in the shower! Plan your temperature-appropriate outfit!

The older generation has a soft spot for weather. Sit back and enjoy Grandpa’s grin as he unwraps this one.

Nice work.

- Marisa




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