Traditional Skills and Heartfelt Interactions

Barbershops Are Back!

2018 / July

Cathy Teng /photos courtesy of Jimmy Lin /tr. by Scott Williams

I am sure many men still vividly recall going to a tradi­tional barbershop with their father. Not yet tall enough for the seats in those all-male spaces, they might have found themselves seated on a washboard booster stretched across the barber’s chair, while their father had his hair trimmed and his face shaved by the auntie working there. After the cutting and brushing, the barber would work in a little pomade to make the new ’do look as slick as Tony ­Leung’s in Days of Being Wild.

But then the younger generation stopped going to male-only shops, cutting Taiwan’s traditional barbering culture off at the root. Fortunately, some people are now trying to bring it back.


At first glance, the large, colorful painting on an exter­ior wall in the Yong­kang Street neighborhood appears to be a copy of Da Vinci’s The Last Supper, but one in which Western suits and slicked-back hair provide a modern feel. The text that stretches across the front of the table at which they sit offers viewers the name and function of the space inside: “Barber’s Select.” 

Barber’s Select: A male space

Barber’s Select was established by ­“­Canle” (Xu You­lun), “Ali” (Chen Weili) and a group of like-minded friends. Their common goal: “We wanted to create a space just for men. The guys who come here don’t neces­sarily want a haircut. It’s a place where they can sip a drink, chat, and relax.”

The interior of the shop is purposefully styled in blacks, whites, and grays to give it a masculine atmosphere. Its exposed brick walls, classic photos of Elvis, ancient game console, and 70s and 80s playlist just add to the male “vibe.” Whether you’ve come for a beer, to watch a game, or to drop a few coins into the “Street Fighter” console, it provides a comfortable place in which to be a “guy.”

The space in which the barbers work is separated from the rest of the shop by a floor-to-ceiling folding gate that creates an almost stage-like effect. We watch while a barber named Esa (Lin Yu­xuan) works on a young man’s hair. As she shaves the hair from both sides of her customer’s head, she explains that short hair better suits his sunny disposition. She uses electric clippers to create a taller layer at the back of his head, and then tidies it up and brings it in line with current styles by cutting a careful part into the side.

Barber’s Select’s exterior may look a little out of place in the arty Yong­kang Street neighborhood, but many of the shop’s customers in their forties and fifties say they feel as if they’ve finally found a comfortable “male” space. “Seventy or 80% of the people who try us out come back for another visit.” In addition to being encouraging to the Barber’s Select team, that return rate is indicative of a resurgence in Taiwan’s barber culture.

Founded in 2017 as an integrated space providing haircuts and other items, Barber’s Select is a unique new entrant into the market. But if we want to fully explore this new barbering trend, we should look at Auntie’s Barber Shop, which was established in 2013.

Auntie’s: Reaching across generations

Founded by 20-something “Willy” (­Huang Wei­jia) and 40-something “Auntie” (Guo Yu­xiu), Auntie’s Barber Shop is a cross-generational partnership.

The two met when Willy came to her as a teenager looking for a new hairstyle, and they’ve been friends ever since. Though she worked in a traditional barbershop, Auntie’s skills and originality enabled her to create fashionable hairdos that suited her customers well. A unique individual, she was also able to talk to her young customers about virtually anything they had on their minds, and share advice on matters of the heart and life in general.

Willy brought many of his friends to Auntie for haircuts in those days, all of whom went on to become ­regulars. “Just picture it,” says Willy. “An old-fashioned barbershop with young people lined up outside, often waiting an hour or two for their turn!”

He broached the idea of going into business with her after a trip to the United States, where he saw enthusiasm for barbershops reemerging. When he returned to Taiwan, he realized that Auntie was already doing much the same thing, but that no one in Taiwan was yet correctly packaging her type of service. Feeling that Auntie deserved better working conditions and better pay than she had at that time, he suggested that they start a shop together. The two opened their first Auntie’s Barber Shop in Tai­pei’s ­Tianmu district in 2013.

After making it through the difficult early days, Internet exposure and positive word-of-mouth turned their shop into a must-see ­Tianmu destination. Foreign backpackers even began turning up at Auntie’s looking for a stylish cut.

In fact, demand became so high that the wait time for an appointment stretched to more than three months. Willy began planning a second shop, and found two more “aunties” to work alongside Auntie and extend her stylistic vision.

Working from the heart

Having just finished styling a customer at their first shop in Tianmu, Auntie sits down for our interview and says: “When people see the shop’s success, they think that I was Willy’s benefactor. But that’s not true. We’ve been each other’s benefactors.”

Auntie’s life has changed a great deal since meeting Willy. She is still cutting hair, but she has become even more skilled and has personally trained nearly all of the young stylists working at their second shop.

Stepping into Auntie’s, you enter a joyful space in which the sounds of conversation dominate those of the music and the hair driers. Willy says that Auntie has a unique ability to remember details about their customers’ lives. When one of them has experienced something particularly momentous, whether the good fortune of having a baby or the misfortune of a car accident, she gives him a red envelope.

Auntie is grateful to all her clients for her hair-­cutting skills. “I wouldn’t be nearly the barber I am today if it hadn’t been for all these handsome men letting me practice on them,” she says, then guffaws. Barbering is hard work, but she enjoys it.

She’s also become an influential figure that people listen to.

“David” (Yan Jun­cheng), a high-school classmate of Willy’s, is also a partner in the business and manages its non-technical matters. Watching the care with which Auntie treats customers, David has learned to interact with them as friends who he happens to see once a month. They share a cigarette and a conversation, perhaps talking about highs and lows at work. Auntie’s is the kind of place where men can relax and let down their defenses. David enjoys seeing men come in alone to have some time to themselves, and fathers introducing their sons to the barbershop experience and creating treasured memories together. The sincerity of the human interactions permeates the atmosphere at Auntie’s.

The young men who come to the shop pay real attention to what Auntie has to say. In fact, it is her conversation and advice that shape and maintain the shop’s culture.

These good vibes are at the heart of the shop’s success. While barbershop culture is a foreign import, and ­Tianmu itself a gathering spot for Taiwan’s expatriates, Auntie bridges the language divide and enables non-­Taiwanese to experience something distinctly Taiwanese. David says that Auntie’s gives this foreign import back to international visitors in a form that’s even better than the original.

Barbershops fell out of favor with Taiwan’s young people for a time because young people viewed them as old fashioned. But the younger generation’s rediscovery of barbershop culture is preserving and reinvigorating it. The idea to open a Taiwanese barbershop has blossomed into a vibrant barbershop culture, turning these spaces into places that men see as their own, where fathers and sons can forge memories, and men can talk about what’s on their minds.                               

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繁體 日本語



文‧鄧慧純 圖‧林格立




轉進永康街的巷弄內,忽見建物外牆上一幅彩繪壁畫,仿自世界名畫〈最後的晚餐〉的構圖,畫裡的人物卻個個西裝油頭,氣氛時尚而摩登。牆上「紳室商號」4個大字,英文「Barber’s Select」直指空間的功能,「我們想為男性打造專屬的空間」紳室商號的Ali(陳韋里)說。







2017年創設的「紳室商號」,以專屬男性理髮與選物的複合空間為訴求,是近年Barber空間頗具特色者;但細究帶起這波男士理髮店的風潮,不可不回溯到2013年的Auntie’s Barber Shop。


Auntie’s Barber Shop是由20世代的Willy(黃偉家)和40世代的郭玉秀(大家都稱她「阿姨」)的合作創業。


Willy介紹許多朋友給阿姨剪髮,朋友看到店面都會面帶懷疑,轉頭問Willy:「真的覺得OK嗎?」他總不厭其煩地說服:「真的啦,去試試看。」沒想到,大家一試成主顧,「你可以想像在那種很old style的店裡,外面都是年輕人在排隊,常常要排一、兩個小時才輪得到。」Willy補充。

創業的契機始於Willy的美國之旅,見識了從小到大憧憬的美國文化,也看到當地正興起的Barber 風潮,回國後的Willy想著,「阿姨在做的事情,其實是一模一樣的,但是台灣沒有用對的方式把它重新包裝。」另方面也覺得「阿姨值得有更好的環境跟待遇」,因此他邀請阿姨一起創業,只有兩張理髮椅,一張小沙發的「Auntie’s Barber Shop」1號店,2013年在天母開幕了。











阿姨的信念,這群年輕人也都聽進去了,這也成了Auntie’s 的文化,延續在日常中。「我們都算是阿姨的翻譯,講白一點,阿姨把她的所知與信念日復一日的跟我們講,我們理解後,再把它傳下去。」Willy說。

這樣的心意,成就了Auntie’s的成功。Barber雖是外國傳來的文化,天母是外國人聚居的商圈,但阿姨的服務能打破語言的隔閡,讓外國友人體驗到台灣特有的服務,「even better」David轉述外國友人的回饋。

曾經,年輕的一代不願踏入男子理髮店,以為那是過時的老派時尚,但卻有年輕的後進者,守住了文化,有傳承、有突破。「相信這件事情無論是對我們、或是對文化都是件好事。」Willy說。當初的起心動念,造就了Barber文化的百花齊放, 讓Barber不只是讓男性打理自己門面的地方,也有男孩陪父親上理髮廳的記憶,亦是分享男人心事的歇腳處。                                             


よみがえる古きよき時代の理髪店 伝統の技と、真心の交流

文・鄧慧純 写真・林格立 翻訳・山口 雪菜



台北市永康街の路地の中、建物の外壁には名画「最後の晩餐」を模した構図が描かれている。壁画の中の人物は皆、スーツを着て髪をポマードでなでつけ、モダンな雰囲気である。壁には「紳室商号」の四文字と「Barber's Select」の文字が書かれている。「私たちは男性のための空間を作りたかったのです」とAli(陳韋里)は言う。






2017年創設の「紳室商号」は男性のための理髪とショッピングの複合空間として近年では非常に珍しい存在だが、男性のための理髪店ブームと言えば、2013年にオープンしたAuntie's Barber Shopを忘れてはならない。


Auntie's Barber Shopは20代のWilly(黄偉家)と40代の郭玉秀(おばちゃんと呼ばれる)が共同で開いた理髪店である。



その後の理髪店開業のきっかけとなったのはアメリカ旅行だった。子供の頃から憧れていたアメリカでもバーバーがブームになっていたのである。「おばちゃんがやっていることはアメリカと違いませんが、台湾では彼女はいるべき場所にいないし、もっと良い待遇で働くべきだと思ったのです」とWillyは言う。そこでおばちゃんを誘い、2013年に天母に理髪椅子2脚だけのAuntie's Barber Shopをオープンしたのである。









Willy の高校の同級生David(顔峻誠)は、おばちゃんに髪を切ってもらうだけでなく、Auntie'sの経営パートナーでもあり、管理や事務を担当している。Davidも、おばちゃんがお客に接する姿を見て、自分もお客と友達のように交流するようになった。月に一度定期的に会う友人のように、仕事の悩みなども分かち合う。Auntie'sは男たちが鎧を脱いでくつろげる場なのである。彼は、男性が一人でやってきて自分の時間を楽しんでいく姿や、父親が息子を連れてバーバーを体験しに来る姿を見るのが好きだと言う。友人のようにお客の来店を待ち、心を交わす。そんな雰囲気を味わえる店である。

若者たちは、おばちゃんの信念を受け入れ、それがAuntie'sの文化となり、日常へと広がっている。人の心を大切にする態度がAuntie'sを成功に導いたと言えるだろう。バーバーは外国の文化であり、天母も外国人の多いエリアだが、おばちゃんのサービスは言葉の壁を乗り越え、外国人も台湾特有のもてなしを感じ、「even better」と言ってくれるそうだ。


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