Carry On Tradition: Sharps Barber And Shop
Before man caves, NFL tailgating and social apps like SKOUT, there was a place where men could go to relax, socialize and discuss the latest goings-on about town. Oh, and sometimes, they would even get a quick trim or a full-service, hot towel shave too. That was what a barbershop used to be, and it was an essential component of a man’s existence. These days, that convivial nature of a barbershop has pretty much vanished, but there are still a few bastions of this bygone standard still in existence.
One of them is Sharps Barber And Shop, located cozily in the lobby of the Parker Meridien hotel in Midtown Manhattan. It’s not the biggest space, but what it lacks in square footage, it makes up for in pure charm and character. Vintage design elements are tastefully dispersed throughout the space, and the skilled barbers instantly make you feel right at home. As the shop’s manager Jean Keenan explains, it’s not just about giving you a handsome new haircut, it’s about taking in an entire experience.
What sets Sharps Barbers And Shop apart from all the other barber spots in New York City?
New York City had a great tradition of hotel barbershops and somewhere along the way that died out. Sharps set out to bring that tradition back, not just by offering top-notch barbering services, but more importantly, by creating an atmosphere where guys feel at home. For a certain generation, the barbershop was a place of simplicity, a place where men were able to step out of the rat race for a while and relax. It was a place where you could hang out amongst friends and neighbors, talk about sports, cars and current events. It was a place where grandpa, dad and son went together. For our clients who are old enough to remember that from their childhood, the heritage items remind them. For the ones who weren’t quite old enough, we introduce them to the barbershop. Today men walk into the shop, they’re offered a drink on the house, coffee, water, soda, beer or whiskey, they sit in the 100-year-old barber chair and they pick up on the conversation they left off the last time they were in. At the end of the day, the old-school barbershop is a tradition of simplicity, and we honor that.
Your shop offers several old school barbershop treatments like hot towel shaves. Can you tell us more about that?
Every service we do is in the old-world barbering tradition. In order to get a close shave, all a barber needs is a hot towel, shaving cream and a straight razor blade. There is no modern improvement on that formula.
“At the end of the day, the old-school barbershop is a tradition of simplicity, and we honor that.”
What are some haircut styles and grooming trends you feel are going to be big and trendy this year?
Hairstyles are just like fashion; every few years a style is recycled and comes back. The undercut with a razored-in hard part is currently the most popular, and I think it will continue its run this year.
Speaking of men’s hair trends, what do you think about the ubiquitous “man-bun” that so many guys are wearing these days?
The man-bun is an extension of the pompadour trend. To be honest, I think it’s time has passed. Don’t be surprised if you see those guys switching to a braid this summer. Man-braid 2016!
Your Parker Meridien shop has a lot of charm and personality. What are some of the heritage items and vintage design elements that bring character to your shop?
Yeah, the shop packs a big personality punch. We’ve been open five years but customers often ask if we’ve been here for fifty years. We have Koken chairs from the 1900’s and antique sinks to match. Our owner has scoured flea markets to find old barber accessories like tonic bottles and heirloom towel warmers. My favorite is a razor set that Gillette sent to all US servicemen during World War II that has a blade stamped Gillette and US Army. Very cool.
In your opinion, what are the top 3 basic rules of hair care that every guy needs to adhere to?
– Stick with the haircut that works best for your hair type. Not every guy can pull off the next guy’s style
– Everything starts from the inside. Stay hydrated, and take a daily supplement like biotin for good hair health.
– Keep it simple! If it takes you longer than 10 minutes to style your hair, odds are that you have the wrong style for you.
What about for beard care – do you have any wisdom to share on that?
I would recommend to wash and comb your beard on a daily basis, just like you would the hair on your head. I use regular conditioner if I feel the hairs getting dry and add a little pomade to tame the flyaways in between trims.
Sharps is also known for making several top-notch grooming products. What are some of your most popular products?
Yes! We actually started out as a products company and then opened barbershops later on. Our shaving products are really popular, the Kid Glove Shave Gel and Kid Glove Aftershave. But the most popular has always been Guck in a Puck pomade. We can never keep it on the shelf, it sells out immediately. I have a client who has used it since he was a teenager and claims that Guck in a Puck is singularly responsible for his success with the ladies in high school.
Lastly, what is one all-encompassing rule of barbershop etiquette that all guys should follow?
Trust us! Be open to professional advice. If you come in the shop and ask for a haircut that doesn’t work with your hair type, we’re going to be honest with you. My job is not just to make sure you look good when you walk out of the shop. My job is to make sure that your haircut will still look good the next day when you style it yourself.
Sharps Barber And Shop is located in the lobby of the Parker Meridien Hotel in NYC – 119 West 56th Street.