Close Shaves at Haberdash EDC
- March 8, 2012 |
If you haven’t been in yet for a Saturday hot shave with our resident barber, Omar London, some would say you’re missing out. Spend a few minutes in the sun-soaked apothecary section of our Haberdash EDC store, reclining in our vintage barber chair under the masterful hand of Omar, and you’ll see why. After over two decades in the business, Omar became a Master Barber in 2009. Which basically means that when Omar’s not at Haberdash, he’s teaching and certifying a whole new crop of skilled barbers. In short, we found the best of the best for our customers.
Vintage Barber Chair at Haberdash EDC
So, we ask Omar, what makes a great shave? “A hot towel and hot lather. It softens the beard so the blade can glide better.” Near the end of the shave, as he’s carefully cleaning up around the chin, he adds, “It takes a skilled hand… and a lot of patience.” Throughout the shave, Omar asks his client questions to make sure everything is going, well, smoothly. “Is the stroke smooth? Do you feel any burning? Is it pulling? I like to make sure they’re relaxing.”
At that point the gentleman in Omar’s chair chimes in… “Nothing will ever be as smooth as a straight razor shave. The relationship between a man and his facial hair is a very intimate experience, and a way to express oneself.” This is, in fact, something Omar knows about on a personal level, who’s currently growing out his beard until his baby is born in August—his own personal take on solidarity.
The customer in Omar’s chair was back for a second visit to see Omar, having stopped in before to have his beard professionally trimmed and groomed. “I had a full beard, and my wife loved it because it was well-trimmed. She’s pretty upset that I’m shaving it all off right now.” Omar and his customer go on to discuss the historical significance of a man’s facial hair. Back in the day, you could gauge a man’s virility and his status in society from his facial hair alone. “If you could grow good facial hair and keep it well-groomed, you were obviously a man of means.”
Omar on hair texture, tricky spots, and his craft… After years of practice and study, Omar is a skilled hand with all ethnicities, textures, and hair types—changing up his technique and razor accordingly. That being said, hair texture and thickness varies not only from client to client, but also from a man’s cheek to his chin. “The goatee area is the hardest section of shave,” says Omar. “Sometimes there will be two hairs growing out of one follicle, and the hair can be more coarse and tangled.” Which is why Omar saves this spot for last, switching part of the way through to a heavier straight razor, and using the end of the blade to clean up around the man’s lips.
Omar on Haberdash… As far as his surroundings go, Omar seems to be settling in quite nicely. “This is what I would do to my shop—it has that old school feeling. And I love the chair—it reminds me of the barbershops where I used to live when I was little.”
And then, of course, there’s the convenience of an in-store barber: “A man can come shop, buy a new belt, and get a shave—you know how we do everything last minute anyway. Guys need to slow down and take care of themselves. You get one life, you should enjoy it… and, come get a shave.”
The ever-important aftershave. As with any task, half the battle is having the right tools. When you’re surrounded by the finest products from Truefitt & Hill, Prospector Co., Baxter of California, and Malin+Goetz, that shouldn’t be a problem.
Omar and his client both agree—having the right aftershave can take the experience to a whole new level. The Truefitt & Hill Grafton Aftershave Balm (below, left) is always a favorite. Rich and smoothing, it’s perfect for all skin types, even sensitive skin, and smells great to boot. Omar likes Prospector Co.’s K.C. Atwood Aftershave (below, right) for its witch hazel. The crisp, citrusy splash also contains aloe, grapefruit, and sweet orange to soothe and refresh—and, as always, is alcohol-free.
What were the turning points that set Omar on this path? “I used to shave my head with a Mach 3 and a can of Barbasol,” says Omar. “The first time I went and had it done at a barber shop, and felt the hot towel and hot lather, I decided I’d never do it myself again.” The final push to become a master barber, however, came from his grandfather. “I used to cut my grandpa’s hair,” says Omar, “And he always told me I should get my license. His passing inspired me to do this.”
Close shaves are available by appointment at Haberdash EDC, every Saturday. Call 312-646-7870 to book an appointment. 611 N. State St., Chicago