There’s a secret barbers hidden beneath the city streets in Manchester’s Northern Quarter and I entreat the gents reading to give it a punt.
I’ve been to many hairdressers in my day. Once upon a time, I would review hair salons for magazines. I literally had my hair cut in a different style by a different person in a different salon every four weeks for years, so I know what I’m talking about when I say, it’s not easy to find a good hairdresser. Don’t get me wrong, all those swanky salons were lovely, the complimentary beers a nice touch, the “colour consultations” and swarms of people with different titles (none of which are just person-who-cuts-hair) were all, you know, fun. But, when all’s said and done, at the end of the day – we just want somewhere simple where we can have our hair chopped shorter and a chat without wasting hours of precious time we don’t have.
Barber Below is a gents’ salon on Hilton Street underneath the RCNQ salon. It’s in a basement with those cream coloured wall tiles in brick formation. It looks like a cross between a waterworks substation and that cell from the first Saw film (in a good way). It was once destined to be an independent cinema, before it was transformed into the cuttery it is today.
Gareth was to be my coiffeur, a veteran session stylist and fashion week alumni who bounces between the upstairs salon and men’s barbers, below. The barbers all have their own chair stations, complete with their own desktop whimsies, (Gareth’s includes a lock of grey hair). Anyway, Gaz was a true gent, putting me at ease and even suggesting a sharper, shorter cut for me from the immediate get-go – now only pros are confident enough to do that with a new client.
Throughout the cut n’ wash, I learned Gareth is studying for his teaching qualification so he can share his talent with budding newcomers. He balances studies with work and attending shoots and shows to perfect his styling skills. It’s something he says Rob, the salon owner and R of RCNQ, encourages the entire team to do as he moonlights as a producer at London Collections:Mens, now London Fashion Week Men’s too.
Gareth made deft work of my awkward double crown, widow’s peak and general stubborn hair before shaving my back ‘n sides to a solid grade one for the sharpest finish I’ve ever had the pleasure of sporting around my ears.
All in all a proper top job. Great space, brilliant team and a sharp chop to boot.
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