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April 19 2014

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4 posts tagged "Freemans Sporting Club"

Nice To Meet You, My Good Fellow

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BarberBack when he cofounded the original F.S.C. Barber in the back of Freemans Sporting Club on the Lower East Side, Sam Buffa was ahead of the curve on men’s growing grooming fascination. Most guys had a barber; few had one who was still prepared to offer a straight-razor shave or a tin of mustache wax. (Their grandfathers might have.) An empire rose. The original F.S.C. begat offspring in the West Village and San Francisco, and Barber & Supply in Williamsburg. Now, having split with his original partner, Taavo Somer, Buffa has opened the latest link in the chain, Fellow Barber by F.S.C., in Soho. It offers the same cuts, trims, and shaves as the other branches, in the same twenties-vintage barber’s chairs, but with a more pared-down, less urban-lumberjack vibe, and an important new twist: It now stocks an apothecary’s worth of men’s grooming products. “We’re going a little more modern,” Buffa said, gazing at the shelves lined with Malin + Goetz hair products, Geo. F. Trumper fragrances, Japanese Cool Grease pomade, and Santa Maria Novella soaps. “The idea is putting the apothecary on the same level as the barber services.” (The West Village and San Francisco F.S.C. Barber outposts will now go by Fellow Barber as well; the original L.E.S. space will transition to Freemans Sporting Club retail.)

In an earlier, more foolish era, such an emphasis on creams, oils, and unguents might have been branded metrosexual. But more and more, it seems, guys are ready to pay for products that work (and smell) better. “We’ve seen our guy grow with us,” Buffa said. “When we first opened, he shopped at Duane Reade.” Not to be found there: fragrance sprays and incense from the California foragers at Juniper Ridge, Japanese Binchotan-charcoal toothbrushes, and the just-shy-of-parody staples such as Dr. Dittmar mustache wax and Prospector Co. beard oil. In the service of all of these products, Fellow will have a full-time grooming guide to offer guidance and pilot an “essentials” program to note customers’ favorite products and redeliver them, automatically, at agreed-upon intervals. To start, this service will be limited to a ten-block radius only. Yes, almost all of its products are now available for sale on the shop’s Web site, fellowbarber.com. But once the spacious backyard is completed—one that, tantalizingly, connects to the back patio of like-minded neighbors, Saturdays Surf—a visit to the brick-and-mortar pile shouldn’t be too hard a sell.

Fellow Barber is now open at 33 Crosby Street, NYC.

A Camper’s Companion

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When Sam Buffa opened F.S.C. Barber in 2006 as the grooming arm of Freemans Sporting Club, the locally sourced men’s clothing and accessories destination on the Lower East Side, it provided an affordable old-world cut-and-shave refuge for the downtown set’s long-haired, bearded masses. A West Village sister store and a recent move cross-country later, and the concept shop has ignited a resurgence of quality personal care for men. With its stocks of apothecary brands like Malin + Goetz, Baxter of California, and Geo F. Trumper, a trip to F.S.C. Barber means the opportunity to re-up on rosewater astringents, cucumber toners, and, starting this week, an in-house offering simply called Untitled, the first offering of which is a clean-burning candle. The hand-poured soy wax blend boasts a fresh, woodsy scent that mingles cypress, galbanum, and vetiver with lime myrtle and thyme for an aroma that’s made all the more flannel shirt-friendly with its “camper’s” cup packaging. As with most things from Buffa, no detail was overlooked here: The nostalgic, speckled reusable receptacle comes from one of the oldest enamel manufacturers in the United States and the simple pine-and-birch outer packaging is sourced directly from Maine. That it will be a staple at summer barbecues goes without saying.

$55, available this week at F.S.C. Barber locations and www.shop.freemanssportingclub.com.

Photo: Courtesy of F.S.C. Barber

F.S.C. Barber Goes Bicoastal

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Who among us doesn’t harbor a tiny (read: not so tiny) crush on the dapper, mustachioed, vest-donning gentlemen that run (and frequent) New York’s Freemans Sporting Club and F.S.C. Barber? The shearing destination of choice for downtown scenesters who not only care about their cuts but also about the products they slather into their precise fades and carefully curated mop tops was one of the first such establishments to crop up on New York’s Lower East Side. Now, West Coasters are getting in on the old-timey grooming action. “I’ve been thinking about it for a long time,” F.S.C. Barber co-founder Sam Buffa says of the decision to start a third outpost of his concept salon in the heart of San Francisco’s Mission District with his brother Jonah. Officially opening tomorrow, the barbershop’s signature straight razor shaves and smart haircuts (humanely priced at $40) will be on offer on the corner of 18th Street and Valencia. Its comprehensive apothecary made the trip from the East Coast, too, featuring niche favorites from Malin + Goetz, Marvis toothpaste, Geo F Trumper shaving soaps, Odin candles, and badger hair shaving brushes. “Five years ago, I don’t think the guys in San Francisco would have been ready—but I’m really enjoying men’s style out here right now: Americana but more outdoorsy, with a seventies-Patagonia, Yosemite sort of feel,” says Buffa, who grew up in Kings Mountain, California. In keeping with the West Village and Lower East Side F.S.C. locations, the roomy 1,200-square-foot space is decidedly antiquarian: Vintage hand-carved mahogany and marble barber stations (originally created for the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair), salvaged maple flooring from Virginia, and, for the waiting area, a red oak replica of a 1920′s railroad station bench. A small branch of the Freemans Sporting Club menswear store is conveniently located right next door. (Word to the wise/hungry: It is also a mere block away from Bi-Rite Creamery, which serves the finest salted caramel ice cream money can buy). “San Francisco is having a good moment right now,” says Buffa. “I really want this to be a neighborhood shop—just a comfortable place for people to hang out.” You don’t have to ask us twice.

Photo: Ethan Scott for FSC Barber

Behold, The Barber Shop/Beauty Parlor Hybrid

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We’ll be honest: When the old-timey barbershop resurgence took hold of the men’s grooming scene a couple of years ago, with places like Freemans Sporting Club leading the charge, we were a little jealous. No, we’d never have a need for, say, a straight-razor shave, but the idea of going to a low-key salon with an apothecary ambience—instead of the hustle, bustle, and general ridiculousness that typically exist at most of New York’s more high-brow locations—made us wish we were part of the boys’ club. Luckily for us, Russell Manley, the owner of London’s famed Tommyguns salon, is a proponent of equal-opportunity primping. “Despite the way they look, we predominantly cater to women,” Manley says of his concept salons—of which he has three in the U.K. as well as a New York flagship, which officially opens its doors today. The idea is to play up an authentic, old-fashioned image while offering upscale services for both men and women, a goal he successfully achieves with classic leather upholstery, nickel, mirror and glass cabinets, marble floors, and a collective of full-time and session stylists who also work as frequent collaborators with some of the biggest photographers, stylists, and models in the fashion industry. At $90 for a cut and $60 for a blow-out, the prices are a wee bit higher than your traditional old barbershop, but you get what you pay for: quality service, a prime Ludlow Street location, and the simple pleasure of the no-frills treatment.

Photo: Courtesy of Tommyguns Salon