Our industry recently gathered for Premiere Orlando. The show was well attended. Classes were full, attendees were pumped up with energy and enthusiasm. I shared eight classes over the three days, all to SRO crowds.
I had a conversation with an attendee that got me thinking. The central point of our conversation was that there really is no advanced men’s hair education. I think I knew this from years of experience, but the conversation explained it well.
For many years I worked with dealers and distributors who staged clipper cutting and guy haircut classes. If we offered beginner classes no one would buy a ticket. When we offered advanced skills classes everyone who showed up was a beginner. We were forced to just share beginner content. Calling it advanced made attendees feel more skilled and confident.
The reality is that men’s haircutting techniques are all very classic and all very basic. There is not much new in the game. I have frequently joked that the last time things changed in guy haircuts was when we stopped squeezing the clipper and started plugging it in. That was nearly 100 years ago. No, not the last time I mentioned it, the last time a barber squeezed a clipper.
The true “other” form of men’s haircutting education is fashion and trend adaptation. These are the programs where we share how the classic, basic skills we work hard to master are applied in different ways to create the different looks of today. This is where the innovation lies. Sometimes it is a classic look adapted in a new way. Sometimes it is a new tool used to create a variation on a classic look. Sometimes it is a new way to use an old tool or a new way to use a new tool. Bottom line, classic, basic skills adapted to today’s fashion and trend.
This is not a bad thing. I am not griping about a lack of advanced education. There are plenty of classes to take and knowledge to be accumulated. I just think that advanced men’s education is a unicorn. It does not exist, except in the imagination. Going forward, I will strive to label my programming to meet this reality. Offerings will either be characterized as classic technique or contemporary trend. In this way you will know what you are getting and I will know what I am doing.