The groom boom: barbers are back in fashion
Men are looking after their looks again. Here are 10 Dublin barbershops that are a cut above the rest
Grooming is booming in Dublin. A new generation of male urbanites taking pride in their appearance and self-presentation are discovering the pleasures and advantages of old-school barbering for their manly beards and barnets. That includes facials, massage and waxing, previously female preserves, spurred on by high-profile sporting and movie stars fuelling the trend. Later this year Brown Sugar’s latest venture Sugar Daddy will open in Exchequer Street in Dublin with Turkish-trained barbers and state-of-the-art Japanese chairs offering more spice to the mix. Here we profile ten of the best currently in the city.
Waldorf Barbershop 13 Westmoreland Street, Dublin 01-6778608
Founded by owner Liam Finnegan’s great-grandfather 85 years ago, this august Dublin institution has seen its fame spread internationally. Known as the godfather of barbering in Dublin, Finnegan, who runs the business with his daughter Linda and manager Christian Hoey, celebrated its birthday last year by introducing a booking service, new grooming products and a beard menu as well as bringing their social media up to speed. Well known for traditional hot towel shaves, classic styles and use of the strop and cut throat razor, Liam is a fountain of knowledge on 20th-century tonsorial trends (ask him about singeing) and there’s even a little barber museum in the shop.
It attracts everybody from rockabillies to tourists and offers a mobile service. Liam’s grandson 18-year-old Daoin Burns, an apprentice barber, is now the fourth Finnegan generation to carry on the tradition.
Barbiere 23 Camden Street Lr, Dublin 2, 01-5561764
Dublin’s latest stylish barber shop (with a red Vespa hanging on the wall) was founded by Enno Buono, a passionate fourth-generation Neapolitan barber who has been living in Ireland for the past two years.
Buono’s shop offers iPad consultations for clients who can choose between grooming treatments such as Il Bello, a basic dry cut with massage and styling, Il Magnifico, a wash, cut, blow-dry and tonic head massage, Il Formidable for those with long hair or Il Renacimiento, which offers the full package.
The basic dry cut and style is €14 and there are beard and hot oil treatments, hair colouring and advice on current style trends like the summer bounce or side sweep. The Grooming Rooms 16 South William Street, Dublin 2 01-6790777 This luxurious establishment in a renovated five-storey Georgian building opened its doors seven years ago and quickly set the bar in Dublin for high standards, offering private consultation rooms, precision cutting and traditional wet shaves. The idea, according to founder John Erraught, was to create the atmosphere of a gentlemen’s club but with proper shave and hair-cutting expertise and “prop forward” sized chairs for complete comfort. The pewter bar downstairs, where high-end products, manicure sets and gift vouchers can be purchased, was bought in France. Two new airy treatment rooms upstairs have just been added.
The Butcher Barber 11 Johnson’s Court, Dublin 2 083-3551780
ocated in what was originally one of Lord Powerscourt’s stables on the laneway near his former townhouse and lined with tiles sourced from the London Underground’s suppliers, this has become a favourite of leading Irish rugby players like Jamie Heaslip and Tommy Bowe.
Owner Emmett Byrne, who trained with Dylan Bradshaw as a hairdresser and is a member of the Wella Professionals Style Council, started the business three years ago to create a salon-style environment for men, offering 45-minute appointments and quality haircuts.
He is now expanding into upper floors and reckons that most menswear styles last about five years and that short back and sides are slowly giving way to late-1950s, early-1960s longer hair.
Bowlers Barber 24 Upper Camden Street, Dublin 2 01-4764928
Sean McHale, who trained in London, set up his business in Dublin 10 years ago after extensive experience in the City’s financial district with a high-class barbering service. Located over the famous 17th-century Bleeding Horse pub, this barber shop has the unique advantage of offering a full bar service along with towel shaves and friction treatments, so customers can quaff a pint while their tresses are trimmed.
The place gets packed with Welsh, Scottish and Italian fans during the Six Nations and other rugby weekends, though customers also include locals, students and white collar workers from nearby financial institutions. They have another shop at 7 Lower Baggot Street which opened about five years ago – though it doesn’t have a bar licence, it’s beside Doheny & Nesbitts.
Opened a year ago in Temple Bar by Billy Wilkinson, a barber from Liverpool who started his career 30 years ago at the age of 16. In its bright, minimalist, relaxed interior where windows are always left open and pallets function as furniture, treatments include beard trims, hot towel shaves and classic 1950s hairstyles with a modern twist. The shop is popular with actors, solicitors and rock stars, and treatments are by appointment only.
GMale 73 Ranelagh Village, Dublin 6 01 4969954 This self-styled grooming spa with a fuss-free, chilled-out atmosphere, founded by Gavan and Joe Glynn in 2008, offers a one-stop shop for hair care, hot towel shaving, skincare, massage, waxing and tanning. Laddish attractions like free beer, live sports on plasma TV and Xbox games add to the mix. The brothers’ experience living in New York, Sydney and London anticipated the trend for male grooming and they noted, for instance in Sydney, that carpenters, electricians and painters went for manicures or body waxing at weekends while white-collar workers chose facials. Today their customers range from teenagers to guys in their 40s and 50s, with massages and facials particularly popular.
The Grafton Barber 51 Grafton Street, Dublin 2 01-6796984
With a star-studded list of celebrity clients that includes President Michael D Higgins, Gabriel Byrne, Colin Farrell, Gay Byrne, Ian Madigan, Luke Fitzgerald and Saoirse Ronan, The Grafton Barber, founded by brothers Hugh and Conor McAllister in 1994, now has 22 locations around the country.
“Male grooming is the thing at the moment,” says Conor, who is opening a training school of Excellence later this year near the Gaiety which will conform to VTCT (Vocational Training Charitable Trust) standards. The Grafton Barber has its own product range which includes volumisers, shaving soaps, hair sprays, beard oils and three newly launched colognes and will open two furthers shops in Galway and Leixlip in September.
Sam’s Barbers 28 Lr Ormond Quay, Dublin 1
This family-owned chain run by Stanley, Sam and James Donnelly has a history that goes back more than a century to Belfast in 1901. Its five locations include Lower Ormond Quay, Dame Court and Prussia Street in the city as well as Blanchardstown and Cabinteely. A multi-cultural staff of 20, mostly eastern European, is equally divided between male and female barbers with their top shaving barber being Bianca Patel from Romania.
Most popular hairstyles are classic, pompadour, quiffs, slick backs, side parts and the modern crop at prices from €10-€35. Customers range from mothers with kids and OAPs to city centre students and young professionals. Sam’s Barbers also manufacture their own styling products and pomades called Pomp & Co which are exported worldwide.
Cut & Sew 4 Crow Street, Temple Bar, Dublin 2 085-165 7769 and 31 Wellington Quay, Dublin 2 083-4724447
Stylist Sean Bryan (27) from Dún Laoghaire trained with Toni & Guy and Queen before setting up his one-man operation in the heart of Temple Bar. A video viewed by some 30,000 people shows his skill in fashioning a classic raw blade fade pompadour cut on a client styled with Schorem pomade. Cheerful and low-key, it attracts a celeb clientele along with cool young hipsters, and boasts 10,000 followers on Instagram. DJs come in and use the turntable every month because, as Bryan says, “we make it like a social club”. A second shop opened two months ago and features an antique pool table and custom-made chairs. Cut & Sew is best known for an extremely tight haircut known as fade to zero.