We’ve heard a heap of noise over the last year about the New Zealand barber scene as we were working on the pioneering issues of The Cutthroat Journal. We decided to push through the hearsay, jump on a plane and cross the ditch to check out things for ourselves.
We arrived in downtown Auckland and accidently stumbled on a great new project by all round legend barber, Bundy of Boar and Blade. Boar and Blade is already an iconic business in Wellington, and owner Bundy, who has travelled the world with his barbering, was excited about his new store. The High Street store was only a few weeks from opening, and already the boar’s head was mounted outside the entrance. We also got to check Bundy’s Wellington site out in Egmont Street in the CBD. Again, a classic style barber shop that looked like something straight out of the turn of the century – lots of classic carved wood with plenty of oozing style.
We took a ferry to historic Devonport on Auckland’s North Shore to check out New Zealand’s oldest barbers. The shop front window was pretty unique, with a dusty vintage train set creating a cool window piece. The owner, who was busy cutting away, was looking forward to giving the old shop some new love in the future, celebrating its heritage.
The next stop was Mr Barber, a barber training school and barber shop. This is New Zealand’s original barber training school, and they’ve recently moved to Federal Street in a buzzing office precinct – the obvious place to find plenty of clientele. The business hosts a barber shop and school all in one, and over the last 17 years has trained and accredited thousands of barbers. I had a good chat with business partner Jacquie about her progression through this barber life. Jacquie Spence, along with her husband, Neville, are the main reason the New Zealand industry is so strong.
Next port of call was New Plymouth, where we had a fun afternoon at Jet Charm with owners Shaun and Cassie Conaglen. They are the creators of this barber shop and espresso bar. All the right elements have been collated in this designer men’s space, and the business is already creating waves in New Zealand barber circles. Check out their deserving review in this issue.
Wellington had some good examples of barber businesses. Some cool spaces we visited were Norris Barbers, with their old world charm but cool, young vibe, and Godfathers Barbers in Dixon Street, who have really created a great concept in their shop. The 1950 theme included The GodFather pictures scattered around the walls – a very original setting for this professional business.
It was a quick trip, and I definitely need to spend more time next round in New Zealand. I love the passion of the young New Zealanders, who have taken to the vibe of this traditional craft with great enthusiasm. The Maori culture is one of the driving factors behind most of the originality I witnessed, and I believe that like many things New Zealand produces, this is going to be a fresh place of innovation and creativity.