My boyfriend, Ben, and I were in New York on business trips in the fall. The rugged, uber-manly “I’m a creative genius” thing he’d been rocking had started to get a little unruly, even for him. He was starting to look like a mythical forest creature, the kind that lives in northern Canada and is only sighted on the walk back to the truck after drinking brown liquor and hunting moose all day. I sent him to Freemans Sporting Club, where he emerged an hour later looking less man of the weeds and more Brendan Flowers and spouting formerly-foreign phrases like “bespoke menswear.” It was the best haircut and shave I’d seen on him and only cost 40 bones, which is better than the $60-something he pays in San Francisco.
Fast forward 3 months. We’re in Portland, Oregon, visiting my family for the holidays. Same situation with the hair and face. I’d heard about a mini-chain of barbershops called Rudy’s and how each location is unique, showing work from local artists and piping music from local bands (who pop in to say hello, naturally) through the speakers. A little interweb detective work revealed 2 Portland Rudy’s, one in the Pearl District just around the corner from my mom’s apartment! Another cool style, this time for only $24, which would have been $21 had he opted out of the shampoo (“Hey man, you want a shampoo?” “Whatever. Sure.” “Dude, you gotta tell me, it’s your money”). They’re only on the west coast for now, but plan to expand east to New York soon and rock out a midtown (I was thinking the same thing– midtown?) space with their other super-cool venture, Ace Hotel. I can’t remember where I read that either but I’m sure it’s true.
Sure, you could get a decent guy’s cut in Little Italy or Chinatown for probably half what you’d pay at Rudy’s, or pay twice as much to go to a pedigreed ‘hairstylist.’ Yawn. What these funky little places really offer is an experience; a clean new look done by a guy with a story (or at least a band) in an artsy yet understated environment. The street-cred to go’s just the gravy. (Note: At press time Freemans was declared “so done… oh my god they’re so 2007 hipster central” by the writer but she still thinks they’re cool.)