Style Semper Fi

[11/11/15] 

NecesCity talks with marine-turned-barber extraordinaire Peter Tan about style, grooming essentials, and the future of barbershops in Hong Kong.

What do you remember about going to the barber as a kid?
I remember going to a barber for the first time as a teen, and that was with my best friend Jeff. What I recalled was that I had to wait for two hours for a particular barber, but in the end, the wait was worth it. I got the freshest cut - a taper fade - in my life, and quickly realized how much a great cut will increase your confidence.

 

How important is it to look “silky smooth”?
Silky smooth is for someone that has long hair on the sides and top. Today, the majority of males would like something short on the sides and long on the top. This look is what I call ‘fresh’; where the sides are sharp and crisp, while the top is smooth. To be called fresh, sharp, smooth or any other slang is important because that is an indication that your barber gave you a great haircut.

 

You look well groomed? How much influence does your time in the US Marines have on your grooming ritual?
Spending time in the US Marine Corp instilled in me the habit of grooming - plucking, shaving, cutting, and general manscaping - at least once a week to look presentable, and immaculate. There’s a quote by Daymonf John that resonated with me: "good grooming is integral and impeccable style is a must. If you don't look the part, no one will want to give you time or money."

 

What are the most common mistakes men make when it comes to shaving?
In my mind it’s the aftercare, which is just as in important as shaving because it keeps your skin pristine. After you shave, the skin is at its most vulnerable because the top layer of the epidermis is gone and the pores are open. This is when you should wash your face with cold water instead of just a rinsing, and apply aftershave lotion or balm to calm your skin down to prevent bumps, irritation, or ingrown hairs.

 

You recently did a pop-up with Flawless Spa in Central – what do these events allow you to do creatively?
They allow me to try different techniques, and also refine my existing skills set because I’ve grown accustom to my clients’ hair type and texture. Therefore, getting new people to try out on allows me to hone my craft and be creative.

 

Which city has the cool credentials when it comes to grooming?
That’s a hard question to answer because each city has a unique style. However, if we look at the number of establishments that offer male grooming services, I believe New York takes the cake. The term GTL (gym, tan, laundry), which started in New York, sums up how guys there look after themselves.

 

What are your tips for beard care?
Tips for beard care can fall under the umbrella of taking care of oneself. Manage your stress level, exercise regularly, watch your diet, wash and condition your beard and use the appropriate products, such as using essential oils to ensure a healthy looking beard. This can also apply to your hair as well.

 

What styles will come up tops in 2016?
This is another hard question because everyone’s style is different. I believe 2016 isn’t going to be a drastic change compared to 2015. Short on the sides and long on the top with some facial hair will continue to be “in.”

 

What do you suggest for guys who like to be adventurous but still need to look good in the boardroom?
During my time as a barber, many people have mentioned to me to keep it ‘business appropriate’, but what does that exactly mean? With the world being so connected, tolerance for hair has definitely gone up. I’m not saying go into work with a mo-hawk (although I have seen that before), but having a skin bald fade for the younger generation is completely acceptable. However if you prefer to be on a safe side, then I would suggest a #1 - #3 fade with around three inches of hair on the top – it’s completely stylish and suitably conservative.

 

What are your recommendations for grooming when travelling? What products do you use?
It depends on the duration of the trip but what I use are just the essentials, which are tweezers, nails clipper, and a shaver (Gillette Fusion with the single blade for precision shaving). I recently tried the Refinery face wash, shaving gel, and aftershave balm and these are some of the best products I have used for my skin. As for hair, I recommend Uppercut Deluxe Featherweight because it leaves your hair looking natural, with a hold that is strong enough to last throughout the day.

 

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What are barber shops in Hong Kong missing?
Space! It’s unfortunate that Hong Kong charges a premium on the land, leading to high rents, but barbershops out in Hong Kong lack the space for people to mingle and hang out. Furthermore, because of the space limitation, it restricts the opportunity for other services such as a shoeshine.

 

Who do you take your style cues from?
In all honestly, I don’t have a particular person I take style cues from but I do look at well-dressed guys while I’m walking around to style after. My style is to work out for a built frame, grooming, and fitted clothing. Perhaps having all these factors in combination gives off the illusion of being stylish.

 

You’re in the process of conceptualizing your own barber shop called Cuts & Glory – what can we expect?
Well, if all goes according to plan then you can expect whiskey and cigars, food, a lounge area, sporting events, and networking. Basically two words: gentlemen’s club.

 

You’ve had a lot of different jobs. Where does your passion for barbering come from?
The passion for barbering comes from making other people feel good about themselves, whether it’s their self-confidence, self-esteem, or self-image that has increased due to the haircut. This is one of the joys I get and the gratification of seeing someone completely happy with their look is humbling.

 

What’s the craziest style you’ve been asked to create?
I wouldn’t consider anything to be crazy, but recently I had to showcase my ability to create hair art, and the piece that I did was the Versace pattern with a Hi Lo fade. The one I enjoyed the most was creating the iconic Japanese wave.


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