Remember when a beard was a sign of slobbery? At some point that symbolism was superseded by a new found sartorial respect for facial hair. A well-groomed beard or perfectly clipped handlebar moustache is now an indicator of awesome personal style.
Murdock of London has championed this trend since the first outpost opened in 2006. Since then, the company has firmly established itself, with five barbershops located across London and a bevy of now cult products used by some of London’s most style-conscious men. The Manual caught up with master barber Alex Glover to talk super sharp beards and a new era of facial fuzz.
When Murdock was established in 2006 it seemed to trigger a resurgence of the whole Victorian male grooming thing in London. Why do you think people went so mad for it?
At the time there was a resurgence of all things British – I think that was a natural reaction to globalisation – what seemed cool was the idea of independent British business again – the idea that we are a nation of shopkeepers but this time around it looks quite sophisticated – vintage but defiantly modern British.
Also in terms of men’s grooming there have always been style cycles and when we started there was a natural reaction to the last cycle which was the metro sexual male, that concept of salon based hairdressing for men with cut and colour, funky asymmetric haircuts and even make-up for men had become common, jaded and tacky. The new look referenced the burgeoning connection in London with vintage and naturally, certain eras were inspirational. Brendan Murdock’s (the founder of the brand) shop interiors created a space in which many eras were evoked but in a modern way whereby they can all look right in the same space. What started as quite 20’s went to the 30’s to the 50’s then back to the 40’s, with beards and moustaches currently referencing Victoriana.
What’s the nicest thing about your job?
The clients make the role of barber an absolute pleasure – you get to meet so many interesting guys (and some girls!) – such a diversity of men from all walks of life and with so many individual talents. It sometimes feels like we belong to an elite club of discerning new consumers who take as much interest in their grooming as they do with where they shop, eat and play.
What is the most popular service you offer?
Haircuts are our bread and butter but shaves and beard trims are what give us the (cut-throat) edge!
Why are beards so hot right now?
It’s my belief that the Internet and the subsequent digital revolution germinated the beard phenomenon of this generation in London and around the world. With more and more jobs being conducted online there was much less pressure to present a clean-cut corporate image at all times. Many men are now dressing how they want to dress at work and this thread continues into grooming. Now we have clients who visit frequently to keep their beards super sharp – creating hyper-masculinity – a real strength in the beard with sartorial elegance as opposed to the lazy beatnik styles of yesterday.
Do you have any amazing stories or regular customers?
Well styling the Brits and the Bafta awards were pretty fun – sitting on a sofa with Jodie Kidd whilst looking at Tom Ford having a joke with Robbie Williams was like being in Madame Tussaud’s! Also we have worked with various charities such as Movember, which makes you feel warm inside!
When you meet famous actors, comedians and musicians and they are all totally pleasant and at ease it makes you believe anything is possible and that they are just like you or me just more driven.
If you had to advise a customer to invest in one amazing Murdock product what would it be and why?
It would be the Murdock Post Shave Balm – a face quenching, cooling, repairing balm which has the signature Murdock scent Avalon – a perfect Mediterranean moment to make even the most rushed of shaves feel like you just got out of the barber chair!
Finally who has rocked the best hair/facial hair look in history?
Hair wise David Bowie has covered every style imaginable but usually when everyone else was doing something else – a style leader! Beard wisdom from GOD and JESUS…amen.