Growing Barbershop Trend in Russia - His Style Diary (2024)

Just five years ago, it was very hard to find a men’s barbershop in Russia. If they existed, I certainly didn’t see them.

Men had to go to unisex shops that were either expensive ‘beauty salons,’ where women mainly worked and were served, or small-scale joints whose interior consisted of scissors, clippers and a mirror.

That wasn’t the case during Soviet times, according to Kostya, who co-runs a men’s barbershop in Samara, a city on the Volga River.

Kostya, who works in the Russian oil industry, opened Chop-Chop Samara with an Austrian friend.

Back then, there were separate men’s and women’s sections at Soviet salons. Clients were served on a first-come, first-served basis. There were no appointments, said Kostya, who recalled waiting as long as an hour for his turn.

However, men’s-only sections more or less died out during the 1990s, perhaps for economic reasons as much as stylistic ones.

Russia’s economy was going through immense change in late 1980s and early 1990s as Communism collapsed and private businesses began to appear. In those turbulent days, it may have been wiser to offer unisex to ensure a steady crowd.

Like other owners, Boris hopes his shop will bring a feeling of culture and higher male grooming standards to his city.

By the 2010s, Russia’s economic situation had changed massively. A large and growing, young, cosmopolitan middle class had appeared in Moscow and other cities. That created the potential for change in many business areas, including the hair care industry.

Local entrepreneurs soon brought to their city trends they liked abroad, including classic barbershops, said Denis, who recently opened a barbershop in the Eastern Siberian town of Chita.

Probably the first such barbershop to open in Moscow was Chop-Chop, which launched in late 2011. According to a Forbes Russia article, the Chop-Chop owners got their business idea from a 2010 New York Times article about the barbershop trend in the US.

The inside of Boy Cut in Voronezh in central Russia.

Chop-Chop was a hit nearly from day one as it tapped into pent-up demand within the new Moscow middle class and hipster subculture for something new in the men’s grooming field. With beards and mustaches having come back in style, there was clearly a need for specialized shops.

And like most trends that take off in Moscow, it soon spread to the Russian regions.

In nearly each city I visited over the past year – even those under one million – classic barbershops were opening. I found them in Voronezh, Samara, Rostov, Stavropol and Chita. Most were opened less than a year.

Denis opened his barbershop in Chita, East Siberia at the end of 2014.

In some cases, especially cities of more than one-million, they may also be tapping into pent-up demand from a cosmopolitan, middle-class for such service.

In other cities like Chita, a town of about 400,000 near the Chinese border, the barbershop may need to initially develop the trend.

Since opening less than four years ago, Chop-Chop has nearly 50 barbershops in 40 Russian cities. Boy Cut has 8 barbershops in 6 cities, while Mr. Right is present in three cities.

A quick Google search turns up at least 15 barbershops in the center of Moscow, though there is likely more.

While there doesn’t seem to be exact statistics, a look at the top barbershop chains and the stand-along shops around Moscow and large Russian cities, it would be fair to stay that there are probably 100 ‘new’ classic barbershops in Russia….all within the last four years.

The barbershops employee almost exclusively men – though some owners say there is a problem at the moment finding experienced male personal – and are generally fitted with the traditional red-white-blue barber’s pole.

The walls tend to be covered in black-and-white photographs of actors from the 1950s or 1960s and retro-style advertisem*nts. Nearly all the barbershops offer various men’s grooming products, such as American Crew.

Inside the Samara barbershop Chop-Chop. Men’s care products are on sale in the middle of the store.

Many of these barbershops offer free coffee, alcohol or cola to clients while they wait and have become places where friends may come to hang out as I found out in Chita, Samara, Rostov and Voronezh.

Prices at these new classic barbershops aren’t cheap. In Moscow, a cut may cost 1,500 ($30) to 2,000 ($40) rubles versus 1,000 rubles ($20) at a ‘beauty salon’ and 600-800 rubles at a basic hair salon.

As the number of barbershops in Moscow and Russia in general is still relatively small compared to the size of the population, the trend seems likely to continue in the coming years, especially in Moscow’s large suburbs.

Words and Photos by Todd Prince.

Born in Brooklyn, Todd Prince has been working in Russia and the former Soviet Union for the last 15 years as a journalist and investment banker. He has traveled extensively around the region during that time period. For the past two years, Todd has been working on a street portrait project to capture the diversity in Russia.

Visit his website and Instagram @shadesofrussia

Growing Barbershop Trend in Russia - His Style Diary (2024)
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