Barbering is one of the world’s oldest professions, with excavated grooming instruments dating back to the Bronze Age in 3500 BC. There are even references to early forms of barbering being practiced as far back as the Ancient Egyptian era. In the thousands of years which have followed, the barbering culture has grown and reformed, becoming a staple part of many men’s grooming and communal routines.
A trip to the barber has never merely been for aesthetic purposes; in earlier times it was a means of determining rank and status within military and societal settings. Men would have their hair, beards and fingernails groomed at the street market, serving as an environment for gathering, settling debates and general conversing. Although technology has far advanced over the centuries, the culture is not too dissimilar to the one we know today.
The trade is now an established part of modern culture for men from all walks of life. The humble barbershop is not just a place for grooming and styling, it is a setting for socialisation and relaxation (with a cheeky whisky and a game of chess thrown in at some establishments). Although traditional barbershops are still in full-swing, the industry has modernised to meet the needs of the 21st century man. Many shops have formed hybrid businesses – a common example being collaborative ventures with tattoo artists. Whilst barbershops remain the physical heart of the trade, the culture has manifested itself in a range of settings, with barbers being a popular element at a variety of male-dominated environments, from car shows and tattoo events, to pop-up barber chairs at bars and festivals.