Manila's manliest barber shops

Trendy haircuts, wet shaves, and beard trims are all on the menu card and if you feel like it, these barbers serve draft beer and hand-pressed coffee too

Felipe and Sons Barberdashery

Old world meets industrial style. The shop has hardwood parquet floors, low black ceiling with pin lights, and mostly wood furnishings. On display are an old typewriter sitting on top of a reused sewing machine table, antique chests, glass-encased memorabilia including a pair of Manny Pacquiao-signed boxing gloves, and a framed collection of Marvel comics on one wall. One side of the room is all brick in industrial-style steel grey.

Photo by Monica de Leon

Claim to fame. Traditional wet shaves; maintaining facial hair, mainly beard sculpting or trimming. The wet shave or haircut or both always start with a chat to find out your preference. If you’re in the chair for a hair cut, the style of the moment is slicked back, combed pompadour style. “In the summer, it’s often shorter hair styles,” says Felipe & Sons co-owner JC Taruc. Soon as you’re seated, you’re handed an iPad to browse hair styles. Then, it’s cut, shampoo, rinse, and a three to five-minute massage.

Traditional wet shave starts with a preshave oil to moisturize the face and allow the blade to glide smoothly, and then a hot towel compress to open the pores. Soon as the face cools down a bit, the barber applies shaving cream, and gives a first pass of the blade, following the grain of the hair. The process is repeated until a smooth shave is achieved. This is finished off with an after shave balm and a cold towel compress to close the pores. 

Personal collections as decor; quirky neckties for sale

Other services. Range of treatments include facial, hair spa, anti-dandruff treatment, thinning hair treatment, hair dye, grey reduction, mustache coloring, ear candling, manicure and pedicure.

Shoe shine, anyone?

One of the items you can buy off the barbershop's rack
While in the barber chair, you can order a cup of coffee, single malt whisky, vodka, rum or cold beer. Need a shoe shine? You can get one on the spot. You can do some chair shopping too. Haberdashery, a custom clothing and custom shoes salon, under the Felipe & Sons umbrella, shares space with the barbershop. On sale are men’s grooming products (Suavecito for imported; Blue Sail, Grasa, Eight Wolves, Messy Man for local); Parker Safety Razor products and tools for a wet shave; and men’s sneakers, quirky socks and neckties.

Who goes there. Men who live and work in the area, mostly in their 20s to late 30s. Lots of executives, artists, entrepreneurs, and fresh graduates.

Essentials. Felipe and Sons Barberdashery, Mezzanine A, LPL Mansion, 122 San Agustin Street 1227 Makati;

Back Alley Barber Shop

Photo by Monica de Leon

Character. Mix of modern and cool vintage. The shop chose light wood-effect vinyl for the floor and off-white walls, a perfect foil for dark hued paintings — an old bank’s vault, the post office of Manila by Ranelle Dial, and handcrafted guns by Bembol dela Cruz. The attention grabbers are of course the 40-year old hydraulic barbershop chairs refurbished with chrome and leather, working well with the brown furniture and Philippine mahogany countertops. Music is played from a turntable sitting on top of a refurbished army chair. Cos Zicarelli pencil sketches hang on the wall by the entrance.

Barbers are dressed in shirts, ties, and denim aprons. When you enter the shop, the woody, manly scent of White Wood Number One Baxter of California candle hits you. It’s a mix of patchouli, vetiver, Oak moss, liquid amber, and rum. All very civilized. The music is mostly blues and jazz, and house in the evening. The receiving area has a selection of books from global affairs to design.

Photo by Monica de Leon

Claim to fame. Simple hair cut and traditional wet shave are done to exacting standards. The most favored hair cut styles by Back Alley’s clients are undercut and the fade, a tapered and tight cut. Also on the shop service menu is the Hungover Treatment, a combination of facial treatments and massages on the upper body.

Photo by Monica de Leon

What else in store. While in the chair, you can order hand-pressed coffee or local draft beer (Katipunan Craft’s Indio Pale Ale).

Who goes there. Professionals (18 to 40 year olds) who work in the area, mostly in corporate management positions, designers and artists, entrepreneurs; expats; hotel guests.

Essentials. Back Alley Barbershop, Unit 1D Alpha Salcedo Condominium, Bautista Street corner Sanchez Street, Salcedo Village, Makati City

Published May 2016