Sometimes the way to be trendy is by being traditional, men’s grooming merchant learns
By Patrick Butler
Anthony Qaiyum believes you sometimes have to go back in time to keep current with men’s grooming trends. Just take a look at his Q Brothers Men’s Shop, next door to the 140-year-old Merz Apothecary at 4716 N. Lincoln Ave. his family bought in 1972.
Quiyum says its’ been happening on a number of fronts over the past few years. “Craft beer sales are going up, mainstream beer sales are going down. Even in the fast food business, it’s the higher quality foods that are doing well.”
More and more urban men, he noted, are turning away from cartridge and electric shavers and re-discovering the traditional strait-edge razor – or at least the safety razor.
“Guys are coming in for mustache and beard combs. Some want wider tooth combs for longer hair. And a finer tooth comb is going to give you that kind of dapper look” sought by many men today, Quiyum said.
“We have a lot of dads bringing their sons in for their first shaving set. And if you take care of it, you could have it literally your whole life.
“The old apothecary is probably 1800s Vienna, while the décor of the Men’s Store is probably 40s/50s American,” he said.
Pointing to a 1920s era barber chair in the middle of the store, Quiyum said he uses it for seminars on shaving and hair care. “We haven’t done a straight razor class here yet, but I think we will in the New Year. We have done a wet shaving class. We’re starting with the bacics.”
At the same time, fragrances of all sorts are coming out of the closet, Quiyum added. “Our store comes out of a European history and clientele who haven’t the common (American) fear of fragrances. For us, it’s not that things have changed recently, but we’re dealing with people who have always been comfortable with fragrances.”
Quiyum believes this fragrance-friendly trend has only started.
And the days of “his” and “hers” scents might be on the way out, he said, adding “more and more people are using fragrances that are not specific to men or women. It’s not just tobacco and bay rum anymore. There are a lot of things in the middle that are popular today.
“If you don’t know and really love it, why would it matter?,” Quiyum continued.
So are we going to have guys and their girlfriends fighting over the same fragrance bottle?”
“That’s happening more and more,” Quiyum smiled.