How cool is Singapore becoming? Not only a great place for restaurants, cafes and fashion houses, but the barbershop scene is also most definitely exploding.
Doing some web research and talking to a few expatriate mates who are living in Singapore, I quickly nailed my short list of must visit Singaporean barbershops.
Traditionally, up to the 1970s, the Singapore government frowned upon long hair on males, so it was more law than a fashion statement to have a crew cut. This rule meant there were lots of barbers in the population mix. The conservative Singapore is changing rapidly and the art and fashion scene is electric with lots of high energy and creative people emerging.
The barbershop tradition has now been passed on to a couple new kids on the block, who have created some stylish shops through out the city.
My first point of call was Hounds of Baskervilles. A cool name with an equally cool owner, Feroze McLeod. Feroze is a barber and a tattoo artist. The shop is located in the arts village, an area that’s popular for new fashion labels and cafes. He has a good team of Barbers who have been working around the world and understand what styles guys are after these days. The shop is well decorated with cool Asian barber history. It sort of feels like you’re a walking on to the set of a Charlie Chan movie. The shop name is derived from a Sherlock Holmes novel, which is inline with the vintage and ageless feel of the business. Feroze is a big supporter of this arty precinct and he has had a few street parties involving other businesses in the street
My next stop was The Panic Room. As soon as I entered this upstairs business in busy Geylang Rd I was in a mecca of barber world. This business had the best barber retail area I have seen so far in my travels. They had hundreds of products; from tools, to pomades, combs, moustache grooming stuff and a whole lot of great guy sort of gifts.
The team in the Panic Room were super friendly and they had a beer in my hand in seconds, which was a relief to cool down from Singapore’s sticky heat. The shop was packed and I sat in the chair for a bit of a tidy up. Doesn’t get much better than a beer and a trim. I had a good chat with two of the Panic Room’s finest, Mervyn and Jamie, and they filled me in a bit about the culture of the new barber in Singapore. They explained that most Singaporeans love to experience new ideas and current trends, so that’s why they have so many interesting things to look at around the shop. It’s especially suited to a younger crowd, the old guys gets scared off a bit, but they are missing out.
The Panic Room go really well in their retail sales because of the great range and clever display technique. They have over 50 pomades on the shelves!
The best thing about this barbershop was the console arcade game. It still works, and I’m sure it creates some healthy competition among the staff.
Can’t wait for another Singapore stop over to check out some other shops as they start to appear. It’s great to see the young barbershop evolve, creating a new version of a vintage craft.
Story by Sean Edwards.