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The history of Turkish Barbering

There’s more than one reason why Turkish barbering techniques have been so widely copied by hipster joints and high street chains alike. There’s a heritage and authenticity to Turkish barbering, and an unrivalled service that draws on tradition, friendliness and charm - a winning combination if you’re after a good ‘cut. Turkish barbers are often more talented than most, largely because of the respect given to the profession. Indeed, in Turkey, barbering is considered an important, incredibly skilled job. But how did this come to be, and what does it take to become a barber in Turkey?

The respect for the craft of barbering is heavily prevalent in all of Turkey. So much so that children often grow up yearning for a career in cutting hair. And the dream can start early on. Children will often work for a master barber in the school holidays, learning the basics of what it takes. If the child is deemed talented enough and a quick learner, the master barber may take them on as an apprentice. If not, the master will regrettably inform the kid’s family that they don’t have what it takes.

It’s not just barbering skills and technique that are considered though. Temperament and mindset is of equal importance, and often can’t be taught as easily. This is partly why Turkish barbers are favoured over others - customers feel welcome and comfortable in their shops, like a home away from home. A barber will act as a confidant and friend, and will be someone his clients can go to for help and support, something that, along with a good haircut, will keep them coming back time and again.

Today, Turkish barbershops are exactly that, shops. But back in the time of the Ottoman Empire, barbers didn’t tend to have fixed workplaces. Instead they’d travel around, cutting hair in coffee shops or on street corners, and sometimes in customer’s homes. They’d also go beyond the call of duty, and were able to clean wounds, take blood and even perform small surgical tasks such as taking out teeth. While not the case today, barbers are still trusted members of the community and often form strong bonds with their customers. This is perhaps the most important aspect of traditional Turkish barbering that’s remained today - there is an openness and friendliness in the profession rarely seen anywhere else.

Today, time-honoured traditions such as the ear flame and hot towel that have been passed on from generation to generation are still practiced in all of our ateliers. We honour the history of the Turkish barbershop but push the boundaries further, offering a full range of services from beard reshaping to wet shaves and neck massages. Our barbers have decades of experience between them, and respect the history of Turkish barbering while offering a truly modern, personalised service for everyone who walks through our doors.

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