Men’s Grooming Industry

My Photography of barbershop life is underpinned by the driving force in men’s grooming which from all accounts is booming (The Barber magazine, 2018) “The trends for moustaches and beards has breathed fresh life into barbering, and the new salons really reflect this with their decor and philosophy of lifestyle and personal care.”

This men’s grooming movement is not just some headline born out of a Barbershop magazine, this is a real trend or if you like lifestyle change or gap in the demands of men’s grooming needs at this time.

The men’s grooming business is growing all around the world (IBISWORLD, 2018) including in the Asia Pacific (Investments, 2018)  “One of the businesses in Indonesia that thrive on the back of the large population and urbanization is the barbershop (hair salon). This is an example of a creative industry that is booming as demand is (in theory) omnipresent. Therefore, barbershops have mushroomed across the bigger cities, particularly in residential areas. For the richer segments of society, there are expensive hair salons and stylists in the luxurious malls, while for the “ordinary” person there are plenty of cheaper barbershops on the streets of Jakarta.”

Whats interesting is that this segment of the men’s grooming industry runs in parallel with the salon unisex industry. Its clear men have reason to shift away from salons, so what is it that drives this force?

The growth and demand for men’s grooming or Barbershops are expected to grow even more in the years ahead (Coresight Research, 2018)“The largest male grooming market is Western Europe, valued at US$12.4 billion in 2015. Asia Pacific is the highest growth market, forecast to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.1% to $11.5 billion by 2020 from US$7.8 billion in 2015, according to Euromonitor.”  

Is this change in attitude or just better marketing such as the likes of barber magazines such as the cutthroat Journal (The Cutthroat Journal, 2018) or is it something different?

Price to Pay

When I first came to Hong Kong back in 2007 I didn’t know of any local barbershops, so I went to some unisex salons, but hardly any of the hairdressers used clippers or cutthroat razors or gave you a sense of belonging, but most of all the price was almost very high (MCNICOL, 2018) “Men who had previously paid about $70 at a hairdresser could now get a haircut for $25, and business boomed: the store has since expanded from one floor to three.” 

I think for the type of men who prefer a traditional barber, the choices of what services they choose are often clouded by Salons services. Yes some salon hairdressers do have clippers and some do a great job, but it’s just not the same as barber whos been using clippers for the most part of his or her training, and the established services associated with barbers. As well as a haircut some men prefer to have a more male-oriented place to talk and share a beer and a few laughs, salons just don’t have that, moreover, they often don’t have clipper specialists and the tools to shave. or shape beards or eyebrows. If you reverse that scenario then you could say a barber will more than likely not colour or perm hair or have the tools to do that. I know some hairdressers regard the scissors as the main tools for a hairdresser, which is fine if you are cutting long hair or texturing or layering hair and creating those styles best suited to the use of scissors only, but men’s barbers is a different service.

Evolving Men

Perhaps this is the emergence of a new kind of renaissance man, (A Manly Guest Contributor, 2018) after all a haircut is a creative process, have men become scholars of Science and the Arts and have more interest in how they look or is it the emergence of more metrosexual men (Taylor, 2018). and the wider need to learn more about men’s skin and products. Well, in any case, this evolution is worldwide is just as present in Hong Kong as it is in Europe. From both my understanding of the hairdressing and barbershop industry in the UK and now in Hong Kong is that there is one clear factor in the boom of the men’s barbershop startups is that on the whole barbershops cater for not only the average man in the street but the affluent members of society. I think that’s is an aspect of this industry that’s quite special in that it brings people of all kinds together and just makes life generally more interesting.

I also looked at the book by Kristen Barber, which was about Styling Masculinity: Gender, Class, and Inequality in the Men’s Grooming Industry. Interestingly she wrote about the rise of the grooming industry, but more from a salon type of environment perspective, and the role of women serving men in the men’s grooming industry. Barber highlighted that these men were part of a class system. “Adonis and The Executive eliminate working-class men without the means to afford their services and exclude men of colour by focusing on scissor cuts and discouraging the use of clippers for anything besides cleaning up necklines” (Barber, 2016) This was in stark contrast to the social ideology of the barbershops I have visited. In fact, from my interviews, I discovered that all types of people visited these barbershops and actually brought more people together from all walks of life in Hong Kong



A Manly Guest Contributor, A. (2018). Renaissance Man: How to be a Real Polymath | The Art of Manliness. [online] The Art of Manliness. Available at: [Accessed 21 Jun. 2018].

Barber, K. (2016). Styling Masculinity: Gender, Class, and Inequality in the Men’s Grooming Industry. 1st ed. [ebook] Styling Masculinity: Gender, Class, and Inequality in the Men’s Grooming Industry, p.Chapter 2. Available at: [Accessed 3 May 2018].

Coresight Research, C. (2018). Deep Dive: The Booming Global Male Grooming Market. [online] Coresight Research. Available at: [Accessed 21 Jun. 2018].

MCNICOL, H. (2018). Booming barbering industry looks to sharpen its blade. [online] Stuff. Available at: [Accessed 20 Jun. 2018].

IBISWORLD, I. (2018). Barber Shops (US) – Industry Research Reports | IBISWorld. [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 Jun. 2018].

Investments, I. (2018). Booming Creative Businesses in Indonesia: Barbershop (Hair Salon) | Indonesia Investments. [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 Jun. 2018].

Taylor, D. (2018). The Skin You’re In (And How To Take Care Of It). [online] HuffPost. Available at: [Accessed 21 Jun. 2018].

The Barber magazine, T. (2018). About us – The Barber Magazine. [online] The Barber Magazine. Available at: [Accessed 10 Jul. 2018].

The Cutthroat Journal, T. (2018). About Us. [online] CUTTHROAT Journal. Available at: [Accessed 21 Jun. 2018].


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