Nice To Meet You, My Good Fellow
Back 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.—Matthew Schneier