Bristle City Bristle City

The categorical statement piece this year? An expertly groomed beard. The Insider visits Barberian, the go-to place for aspiring gents… (Text: Alex Webber | Photos: Kevin Demaria) 

Last year a scientific study (and I’m not making this up) claimed that the planet had approached a ‘peak beard’ stage, i.e., a crossroads whereby the prevalence of beards had reached such a point that they would soon no longer be considered attractive. Well science was wrong. Extravagant frizz, so it appears, has become mandatory amongst Warsaw’s men – just don’t think you can get away with looking like that tramp you saw sleeping at the bus stop.

Beards, and their meticulous upkeep, have become big news, and that much is evident in Barberian. Opened last October by musician Adam ‘Nergal’ Darski and life coach Małgorzata Marczewska, this barber shop has become the mothership for Warsaw’s pogonophiles. “There’s lots of good hairdressers in Warsaw,” says Małgorzata, “but they’re focused on women – barbering is entirely different. For a start, facial hair is different to the hair that grows on the head.”

But don’t think it’s that simple. “This is one of the oldest crafts in the world,” says Małgorzata, “it involves respect and knowledge, not to mention the transfer of that knowledge.” Leading the frontline in this respect is Łukasz Tarka, a widely acclaimed barber who cut his teeth in London (“Cheap places, expensive places, I worked in them all, I wanted to learn everything”), before being headhunted for a stint in Amsterdam. All the time though he kept a watch on what was happening in Poland: “When I saw things were changing I wanted to be a part of it, so the moment I heard about this place I contacted them for work.”

So why have beards made such a comeback? “It’s a man thing,” answers Łukasz, “they’re part of masculine culture. Of course, I also think people perceive you as a more interesting person when you have a beard.” Małgorzata agrees. “I think beards say something about a male dream,” she says, “but it’s important to take care of them – as a woman it creates an impression of security if you see a man who takes care of his beard. He understands life. He gets it. But beards are also about freedom, about expression.”
By reviving a craft all but eradicated under communism, Barberian have simultaneously sought to resuscitate a whole way of life. “A barber shop needs to have the right atmosphere,” says Małgorzata, “you have to create the type of environment that’s right for a chat, a coffee and a shave.” This has been achieved to great effect by an intuitive design that’s pure ‘man fest’: antlers, a motorbike, antique shaving utensils and black and white pics of epic-looking bristles. It’s a design that’s both humorous and human; ultimately, it causes people to pause their life and disengage from the world.

“It doesn’t matter how old you are, or what background you have, in a barber shop everyone is the same,” says Łukasz, “and that’s a great part of the tradition. It should be a social place without any boundaries. It’s not about beards and hair, it’s a lifestyle thing. Basically, it’s all about having man time.”

Barberian Academy & Barber Shop
ul. Emilii Plater 25 and ul. Kredytowa 9

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