Beyond the fade

The trend for immaculately groomed hair has seen barber shops become one of the fastest growing retailers on the high street. And with such rapid expansion, it’s easy to worry about quality – so how do the leaders of today safeguard tomorrow? Outliers spoke to three pioneers of barbering who ensure standards thrive…

The Future Proofer
Sid Sottung, Haus of Sottung


The Sid Sottung academy and eco-friendly salon, Haus of Sottung, offer courses to equip the next generation with the education the industry deserves alongside jolly good hair cuts for discerning gentlemen.

“Thanks to barbering becoming so trendy, we have unfortunately seen a reduction in both the quality and skill of educators,” explains Sid. “It’s so important to pass on high standards when it comes to hygiene and professionalism. ‘Education’ is freely available online, and people expect to get the same results from their phones as a professional course.”

Sid believes that a good educator has to focus on their pupils. “Just because someone can do a great fade doesn’t mean they’re ready to be a teacher,” he adds. And he loves Redken Brews because of its teachability, particularly with clients. “It’s simple to explain how to use Redken Brews and in what order. If we show men how to use the products, and they work, they’re likely to buy them and stick with them.”

The Big Thinker
Joe Mills, MILLS X Primark

Renowned for his session styling and celebrity clientele, Joe Mills has created a grooming space in Primark’s Birmingham flagship store, and another in Manchester. The salons’ partner brand is Redken Brews – “We needed a professional men’s range that really delivered on performance and price for our customers, so we chose Redken Brews,” he explains, and also offer the service you would expect but in an informal atmosphere.

“The industry is changing,” says Joe. “Rents are going up and there is competition on every street, we need to be smart. The days of just bashing cuts out are numbered.”

That’s where MILLS x Primark comes in. With more than 2,000 clients on the database, this shop within a shop is both innovative and lucrative. “It’s an opportunity to be on the high street, an amazing platform,” he says. “Footfall is high and customers can have an additional experience within this retail space.”

The Renegade
Garry Spencer, The Great British Barber Bash


The Great British Barber Bash (GBBB) was set up by Garry Spencer to educate, inspire and tear up the rule book. It’s an interactive stage event showcasing some of the barbering industry’s top names and demonstrating the latest in new skills and techniques. “Barbering has become a fashion industry again and Instagram has played a huge part in this,” says Garry. “Talented people across the globe have the opportunity to present their work, however there are some who complete a short course and think they’re ready to go. That’s partly why we started the GBBB. We felt we had a duty to attract and cultivate new talent.”

It’s the kind of place a modern barber would want to be, from the music to the brilliant female barbers presenting. “We want to continually change it up and we go to great lengths to ensure the talent at each show is diverse,” says Garry. “It’s not a soulless arena – it has to be cool.”