Should Barber Shops be for Men Only?

Men Only? How We Feel About Women in the Barber Shop…

Names speak volumes. And, we call ourselves GENTS Barber for good reason. We love to define our barber shop as a sophisticated, artful, elegant “mancave” of sorts. We want the gentlemen to come, sit back, relax, unwind, talk about what’s on their minds and let us get them looking their bests. Men can leave their cares at the door when they walk into GENTS Barber.

We take pride in providing that old-fashioned mens barber experience with modern style and flair. We know a precise flat top haircut, buzz cut or close shave can leave a man feeling like a million. We toss in an exceptional, memorable hot towel treatment service to boot. We understand some men want fine grooming in a pinch at reasonable cost.

But does the name ‘GENTS Barber’ indicate ladies are not welcome? By concentrating our clientele and focus in men and men’s services, are we excluding women from all we have to offer? Do men even want to be groomed and serviced around women, and vice versa?

These really are questions to think about, not just in terms of our barber shop but the hair industry as a whole.

Gender Myopia is Bad for Business

A popular and well-known “male-only” shop found itself in hot water over these questions recently. Hawleywood’s is based in Newtown in inner Sydney, with three stores in California in the U.S. Its “no women allowed” policy had been more of an affable, unspoken rule than a widely-publicized manifesto.

All that changed when musician Kelly Jeanious took to Facebook to gripe about Hawleywood barbers asking a woman to wait outside until her boyfriend finished his haircut. Women all over Australia and beyond riddled Hawleywood’s Facebook page and other social media with backlash. The outrage and vitriol hurled at Hawleywood’s alleged their “male-only” tradition was misogynistic, outdated and discriminatory. One woman even filed a sex discrimination complaint with the Human Rights Commission.

Wow. Not too many places exist anymore where one sex is shunted in a different direction than the other or one sex is excluded altogether. The gym? High school locker rooms? Even high end department stores have gone the co-ed route.

Playing Devil’s Advocate

So, what is the problem with gender-restrictive barber shops? After all, businesses have the right to define their target market and brand themselves how they wish. And isn’t there always that “We have the right to refuse service to anyone…” loophole?

To be fair, fine grooming services are seen as luxuries but these really are intricate processes. These processes take time and careful attention. We do not always look our bests during them. Many men are just more comfortable and relaxed during long, detailed and uncomfortable procedures if surrounded by other guys who can relate.

The GENTS Barber Perspective

We see both sides of the coin. Ultimately, ladies are certainly welcome at GENTS Barber. They often accompany their husbands, boyfriends and sons during their mens barber services. They come in to purchase custom grooming products for their sons and the men in their lives.

However, women needn’t feel they can not take advantage of all we have to offer. We service many women whose short hairstyles require that special touch experienced barbers provide. We have formal services and pricing for women, kids and high school students.

The reality is ladies are very much welcome at GENTS Barber. They just do not come in as much as men do. Maybe we aren’t ordering the right magazines. Maybe we don’t feature enough unisex products. Or maybe they just prefer other salons and spas catered to unique processes women want and need more, with more women around to compare notes and make suggestions with.

It is hard to say. Perhaps this is just a passing war in the battle of the sexes or it could be an important transformation in the mens barber industry as a whole. Time will tell. In the meantime, GENTS Barber welcomes both female and male clients so we hope to see you soon!