Man’s battle with his hair pre-dates known history, and until Bronze Age man came up with a razor-like implement to hack his tangled tresses off, what couldn’t be braided was simply scrubbed from our skin with rough stones until the desired area was smooth (and no doubt sore). Once Bronze Age man had made his contribution, the evolution of the hairstyle had begun and by the time the Ancient Greeks and Egyptians rolled around, barbers were in daily use and the hairstyle was starting its history as a good indication of social class, political affiliation, occupation, religion, marital status, race and culture.
From the Egyptians, who were fanatical about hygiene and haircuts (and have a most iconic and recognisable style of cut to this day), the practise spread to Rome, where barbers operated from market stalls or in the streets. The tonsors of Rome became places of gossip, debate, and voicing opinions, and a young mans visit for his first shave was considered an essential coming of age ceremony.
By the Middle Ages, barbers had their own guild, The Worshipful Company of Barbers in the City of London. As the priests and monks who had traditionally held the positions of barbers and surgeons (for the two went together for around 6 centuries) were banned by Papal Decree from spilling blood, barbers instead worked with these men, performing such duties as surgery, ear-cleansing, dentistry, and blood-letting, as well as cutting, shaving and styling hair. You’d better have some faith that your barber surgeon knew his pompadour from his prostate! Around the same time, Vikings of certain classes were very well groomed with neatly styled hair, contrary to popular depictions of wildly hairy savages, and when this made a good impression with the women they encountered in England, the men of the UK quickly followed suit and began taking better care of their hair and general hygiene themselves.
In the late 1800’s, Chicago man A. B. Moler established the first school for barbers, which was so popular that branches across the U.S followed. The surgeon’s in the U.K split from the barbers, forming the Royal College of Surgeons and leaving the barbers with their own guild whilst making a trip to the barbers a lot less terrifying.
By the early 20th Century, barber shops and haircuts were commonplace and iconic styles from throughout history were already recognised and being replicated. Although many aspects and expectations of the job have changed through history, the barber shop remains a place where men can voice concerns and have public debates, just as they were in Ancient Rome.
Into the 21st Century and the barber shops of the world are still booming. With famous figures through human history from Charles II to Australian popstar Sia recognisable by their hairstyles, the last two decades have seen oodles of innovations in styling and more and more people using their hair as an expression of themselves or their brand or persona. One thing is for certain, one of the world’s oldest known professions and social activities is showing no signs of slowing down.
With a massive range from simple trims to extensive treatments delivered with a wealth of experience that transcends time. Our relaxed and friendly Barbers atmosphere is designed with you in mind, you can enjoy a nice cool drink whilst we get to work. Why not pay a visit to Chaps & Co for a grooming experience like no other.