Expert's Opinion

Look Sharp, Feel Sharp, Be Sharp

By Kate Benson, Martens & Heads | March 12, 2012

Kate Benson explains what makes guys spend a few hours at a salon.

A New York Times article in October 2011 stated that wearing makeup can help a woman gain “more respect, trust and affection from [her] co-workers.” While time spent on beauty regimens may seem unjustly slanted towards women, growing numbers of males are also seeking grooming practices to clean up their appearances, make them feel more competant and attractive, as well as serving as a means for relaxation.

This past summer Kiehl’s opened a spa in midtown Manhattan, transforming the brand into a personalized grooming experience. Justly coined“Spa 1851,”Kiehl’s believes the move will make them a serious competitor in spa customization, as well as a leader in male beautification – a position that many believe rightly belonged to them before “The Art of Shaving” made its first retail move.

Sitting in a Spa 1851 barber chair in the grooming lounge,one overlooks the hustle of the 64th St. and Lexington Avenue location, while getting a classic shave and/ or haircut. This mini barber shop and spa location follows suit with a new trend of grooming locales exclusively for men. Popping up along New York’s downtown, midtown and Brooklyn streets, these shops are for men who seek grooming services as simple as a haircut or shave, without the bother, or embarrassment, of going to a salon, which tends to be female-dominated.

“Relax and have a beer,” is a typical opening liner at Truman’s, a grooming spot in midtown Manhattan, established by three male professionals who wanted classic services, that allowed them to maintain their manly integrity. Walk into the shop and clients aren’t crammed into a waiting room reading magazines, but instead are hanging out in overstuffed red leather barber chairs watching ESPN.Many may be sitting at the wood-paneled bar, enjoying a beer or a drink before their treatment.

Male clients are made to feel as if they’re hotel guests, and given the chance to sit back and relax – not to mention, have some privacy. Truman’s offers sleek dividers decorated with black-and-white photographs, to section off the customers. “Guys don’t want to lock eyes with another guy when they’re getting a manicure, and no guy wants to be seen in a pedicure chair,” says Joe Marchesi, co-owner of Truman’s.

Men desire directness and results in both business and life – so accordingly, the names of the treatments aren’t romanticized, but say it how it is. A shave is a shave, and hot towel service, hair wash, scalp massage, shave and shoe shine are all exactly what you think they are. The only difference is the manicure and pedicure treatments, which are appropriately titled “handshake maintenance” and “foot repair,” which if you think about it – is precisely the purpose they serve.

These new male groomers represent the gentleman – he doesn’t want a touchy feely spa experience, but wants to relax while getting his hair cut, a shave or a massage. The new style barber shops sprouting up around town allow clients some alleviation from their grueling work day – not to mention a single malt or a beer to take the edge off while they await their turn.

About the Author
A founding member of Martens & Heads! Kate brings over 15 years of industry experience and executive search expertise.She focuses on senior-level placements within the lifestyle practice and specializes in general management, sales, marketing, human resources and operations.Her clients include global iconic brands as well as entrepreneurial start ups.
A native of New York, Kate earned her B.S. in Business Administration from Long Island University, C.W. Post. She later received her masters degree in Human Resource Management from the New York Institute of Technology.
Kate’s dual experience within brands and in executive search gives her a keen understanding of her clients’ needs as well as an unsurpassed knowledge of and access to industry talent.She is active in industry associations such as the Fashion Group International, Cosmetic Executive Women, and the Society for Human Resource Management.

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