Like Maintaining Baseball Gloves or Cars, Why It’s Cool for Men to Polish and Primp
Fragrances, moisturizers, and all the pampering that was once the exclusive purview of women has been increasingly and unapologetically adopted by men.
Blame it on the advent of the metrosexual man: More than ever before, men today are aware of the importance of taking care of their skin, body, and hair.
“Grooming is part of a larger masculinity narrative about a healthy lifestyle that says it is good to take care of yourself,” says cosmetics/grooming company Jack Black’s co-founder Curran Dandurand of this rapidly growing niche. Men are looking for problem-solving products that are easy to use and goal-oriented. “They find something that they like and they tend to stick to it,” explains Dandurand. Bottom line, guys want products that work. “They also want to be able to understand these products and why they work,” says Jeff Raider, co-CEO of shaving and skincare brand Harry’s. “Guys get frustrated and overwhelmed with lots of product offerings. They want brands that can speak to what they might like and deliver results.”
Summer office dressing means getting inventive and denim can be the best way to mix it up. These three corporate creatives show how to rock denim with style without looking lazy. Fresh white jeans mixed with color and tailoring look impressive, dark denim can elevate your look when just wearing an oxford, T-shirts, or sweatshirts and faded blues take the stiffness out of tailoring. Changing it up with unexpected pieces paired with Mott&Bow denim guaranteeing your spot as your office style hero.
And men are starting to independently purchase their own facial cleansers, beard oil, hair pomades, body wash, and facial moisturizers, instead of relying on whatever is in the bathroom. “Guys don’t just want their wife’s or girlfriend’s products with a more masculine scent,” says Raider. “They want brands that know them, that think about their daily routines and help to create products that work well for them.” Men are also inherently less interested in a brick and mortar shopping experience than their female counterparts so online shopping makes yet are making thoughtful grooming choices for themselves.”
Band collars add a carefree edge and a unstructured blazer is casual and upscale—Get the look: Blazer by L.B.M. 1911 (akrikks.com); Shirt by s.k. manor hill (skmanorhill.com); Jeans by Mott & Bow. (mottandbow.com)
Boutique skincare and hair care brands like Harry’s, Jack Black, and Truman’s have cornered the product market while modern barber shops like Blind Barber, Freemans Sporting Club, and Fellow Barber appeal to enthusiastic millennials. “Younger guys are over twice as likely as older men to try new products and use products in a variety of face, hair, and body categories,” says Dandurand. “They are more likely than other age groups to pay more for products they feel really work and to place importance on the brand in their purchase decisions.”
For men, it’s no longer a one-size-fits-all grooming regimen. As work norms have evolved, and guys don’t have to be clean shaven or necessarily wear a suit, they have more freedom to dress and look the way they want.
Carlos Huber, 35, founder of fragrance brand Arquiste; arquiste.com
A summer sweater is comfy under AC and a bit of color goes a long way when paired with classic white jeans—Get the look: Sweater by Sandro (us.sandro-paris.com); Mercer Jet White Jeans by Mott & Bow (mottandbow.com); Belt by Maison Kitsuné (kitsune.fr)
Forget Davidoff’s Cool Water scent! The modern man is showing a growing interest in high-end fragrances. “Men are looking into the niche market of fragrance more then ever,” says Carlos Huber, the founder of fragrance company Arquiste. “Guys today don’t want to smell like everyone else.” Men are becoming more adventurous and experimenting with complex floral and oriental notes in their scents. Arquiste is a line of distinctive fragrances that include citrusy, woodsy, floral, spicy, and ambery scents. “They all tap into something that guys want to project,” says the Mexico City native, no stranger himself to the luxuries of men’s grooming. But fragrance is just a piece of the puzzle. “It’s not only about the power suits, it’s also about what’s underneath.”
Adam Kirsch, 30, co-owner of Blind Barber; blindbarber.com
Office to dinner, the ghost tie is the solution for staying pulled together yet casual—Get the look: Jacket by A.P.C. (apc.fr); Shirt by Louis Vuitton (louisvuitton.com); Slim Beford Jeans by Mott & Bow (mottandbow.com); Sneakers by Converse (converse.com)
With four locations (East Village, Williamsburg, and Barneys Downtown in NYC, and Culver City in Los Angeles), the six-year-old company Blind Barber (named for the hidden speakeasy at its original NYC location) is changing the way men tend to their hair—from their faces to their heads. Along with partners Josh Boyd and Jeff Laub, Adam Kirsch runs the business and its product line that is available globally. “Over the last few years, men who care deeply about their grooming have become more mainstream,” says Kirsch. The specialized market for such a customer is expanding rapidly. “First and foremost, we are looking for something simple that works,” Kirsch explains. “We don’t need any of the frills. We just want products with limited steps and that are effective.” But at Blind Barber, the experience at the barbershop extends beyond the haircut. “Guys enjoy coming to the barbershop because they not only like staying groomed, but they also enjoy the atmosphere and leave with a sense of confidence,” says Kirsch. What trends is he noticing these days? Most men have either a beard or light scruff and for haircuts, men are looking for a cut that’s tight on the sides and then a little longer on the top—but a lot of guys also still like a nice side part.
Brian Riordan, 43, partner at SWAT, a creative brand agency and former CMO of John Allan’s; nsgswat.com
T-shirts with blazers are a great summer solution, especially in subtle shades—Get the look: All clothing and accessories by Brunello Cucinelli (brunellocucinelli.com)
Like many young men, branding expert Brian Riordan believes that taking care of yourself inside and out contributes a lot to your personal happiness. “More men are finally realizing that grooming is not a vain thing to do,” says Riordan. “In fact, it’s a respectable thing to do.” As children, boys were taught to oil their baseball gloves and as men, to keep their car tires and wheels looking new. “So why on earth would we think using moisturizer for our face is strange or even feminine?” Riordan asks. “To me, a guy’s skin is more important than the tires.” The consultant cites brands like John Allan’s and The Art of Shaving as pioneers in the grooming category and is eager for media to start paying more attention to this space.
Riordan is also working with one of his beauty clients to launch a men’s makeup line that helps to correct simple blemishes and spots. “What excites me most is the continued dialogue men are having about taking care of themselves and their appearance,” says Riordan. “It’s good to see men stepping up again.”