Taking time to smell the peonies
As a boy, grooming expert Matty Conrad looked up to his sharp dressing, well groomed grandfather. It got Conrad into the hair styling business and later inspired his transition to a hard core heritage barber. Conrad opened his first barbershop, Victory Barber & Brand, in 2010, and has since been named “Coolest Barber on Instagram” by Details and GQ magazine, and was recognized as a top Canadian men’s hairstylist several years in a row. We caught up with Conrad at a Schwarzkopf Professional hair care product event to ask him about the evolution of the male market.
How can spas better market to a male clientele?
I’ve seen people do things really well where they have man-specific spas, they focus very much on men’s services, things like that. As much as those things are obviously very successful, the barbershop for me is kind of like the men’s spa. When it started, it was about getting a shoe shine and a manicure and a haircut and shaves – and shaves are very much like getting an exfoliating facial. As much as I’m sure a facial is probably the loveliest experience ever, if I have one done and I walk out into the streets and my friends say, “Wow, you’re glowing! What happened?” I’m probably not going to tell them what I’ve been doing. But if I’ve just come from a cutthroat shave, there’s an element of danger there that makes it so cool and masculine.
What trends do you see in men’s hair care and skin care products?
We’re going into an age now where people want craft, people want smaller things, but people want specifics. I think guys are not looking to use their girlfriends’ moisturizer; they want something that smells very masculine, that is specifically for them. The market is exploding with men’s care products – brilliant skin care lines, brilliant hair care lines. We’re really seeing people focus and specialize on certain things, and I think that guys have always been really receptive to that.
You mentioned that your grandfather was part of an era where men really took pride in their appearance and took time to cultivate it. Do you see that coming back?
Men’s grooming is back. Guys are spending more time, they’re buying more products than ever before. Men’s grooming is having its moment. It really came in on the backs of the early adopters, you know, the hipster kids got really into this old classic look and then it became mainstream. I think the best thing about men’s grooming right now is that it’s about highlighting the strongest and best features of a man and letting him play to his strengths, rather than dressing him up to look like something else.
What do you do to treat yourself?
I love to get a haircut. I travel an enormous amount, I’m on the road 36 weeks out of the year… teaching hairdressers, teaching barbers onstage, all these kinds of things. So when I’m in different cities, when I have an opportunity, I try to go somewhere for a haircut. I love going to barbershops around the world and feeling the vibe and letting people do their art and do what they do and working with different craftsmen. It’s deeply inspiring to do that for me, but also, it feels great to just get somebody to take care of you like that.
Have you been to the spa?
For me, the barbershop is my indulgence… but when [I’m] on the road, massage is a big thing. Going for a massage is great, I love that. When you get to be an old man and you’ve been doing this for 20 years… massages are a necessity.