Now we aren’t going to tell you that the male grooming market is growing faster than women’s, that the beard is still back in a big, big way, or that the traditional barbershop is not enough for most of today’s breed of stylish, well-groomed and handsome bearded gentlemen. You all know this. There is always going to be the traditional barbers of course, there probably won’t be any less of those £7 pop-ins around London that promise to have you in and out in 15 minutes as long as you don’t expect to have your hair washed, be offered a drink or a smile, or have an opinion on what kind of cut you are going back out of the door with. For everyone else, there’s Ruffians.
A traditional barber by many means – with some modern twists – Ruffians has locations in Edinburgh and London’s Covent Garden, with their third location on Marylebone’s Wigmore Street, behind Selfridges. The new location is a spacious, welcoming addition that perfectly places every element of what Ruffians has grown to be, and to be loved for. The friendly front of house staff, the non-pushy and non-sponsored arrangements of their own-brand grooming products and the long communal bench that acts as a waiting and working station are what welcome you to the Wigmore Street site. Ruffians-branded craft beers, unique and ever-changing whiskies and Union Roast drip coffee are served next, this Scottish editor loving that a Tunnock’s Caramel Wafer was placed next to the best coffee I’ve had in months, a nod to the barber’s Scottish roots.
Where the action takes place is in one of the 11 traditional chairs over the two-level space – all industrial metal and wood with pristine white tiles – where award-winning cuts, shaves and trims will happen. On my first visit to the new store, Joe was the barber in question, reassigned from the Covent Garden store and careful to point out the new improvements the Marylebone store has received. No cricked neck on these fancy sinks.
I haven’t got enough hair or imagination anymore to go for my haircut armed with a photo of whatever David Beckham is sporting that week, but without that visual limitation, leaving the end result in the hands of the scissor-wielder can be daunting for some. Indeed it still is for me, but for the sake of a fair trial, I gave it a go and left Joe to get on with it, with only vague guidance. 45 minutes of precision cutting and beard maintenance and compliments I have received over the past week have confirmed that there was no need to worry. The Ruffians experience puts you instantly at ease, probably more so if you opt for the beer or whisky over the dark roast.
The Ruffians aim is to have men looking forward to visiting them, to no longer see a wet shave or a mane tame as a chore, but as a social and pleasant experience. For you to feel that ease, enjoyment, expertise and value no matter which of their three locations you visit – either side of the border, or both in my case – and to have you to coming back again and again. Mission accomplished.
Ruffians is open now at 63 Wigmore Street, London, W1U 1PX and other locations in London and Edinburgh.
Mikael Jack – Fashion Features Editor