Hairbrained Q and A: Schorem Barber

Schorem Barber is an edgy rendition of an old-school classic: The men’s only barber shop. Specializing in traditional cuts and hot towel, straight razor shaves, this group of barber’s has successfully restored a long forgotten treasure – the men’s-only club.

Based in Rotterdam, Netherlands, client’s travel great distances (arriving in droves) to get the Schorem experience. Because these ‘scumbag barbers’ are giving client’s something they can’t get anywhere else – and they offer more than a great cut – they offer an old-world, customer centric experience. Read on to get a first hand account from Schorem Barber, Rob, AKA ‘The Butcher’ – and discover what sets these ‘scumbags’ apart, plus learn how their time-honored philosophies have made them internationally known.  

Q. You’ve said that ‘barbering is a lost profession.’ In what was does Schorem contribute to rediscovering this niche?

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A. It's not just the craft of barbering, itself. It's more the barbershop as an institution: One of the pillar stones of society and communities. The world has changed a lot. These changes can be credited to the Internet, social and traditional media, plus a change in infrastructure and people working from home. Traditionally, the barbershop was seen as a third place (the first two being home and work), and not just a place to get a haircut. Instead, it was a place where you could go to hear the latest news and gossip – to ‘chew the fat’ with your peers. It was a place where everybody knew your name.

It used to be that communities were much smaller. Both your family and friends formed a much closer circle than what you might find today. I think the rediscovery of having conversations with a total stranger – and engaging in social interaction in general – is exactly what the world needs right now. I believe that these simple philosophies make up the core (of the success and renaissance of) the barbershop; that and a goddamn good haircut, of course.

Q. You’ve created the ultimate ‘gentleman’s club.’ You pass beers to clients, engage in friendly banter – but most notably – you decline female guest, going so far as to deny their admission into your shop. How do these things help to create the Schorem experience?

A. Women are simultaneously the best and worst thing to happen mankind. Put a woman in the room and men loose all sense of civilization, and start acting like their ancestors. They all want to be the gorilla with the most silver back, or the lion with the loudest roar. There is a special thing about being with the boys, and it's impossible to explain if you’re unfamiliar with it – but every man intuitively gets it. Schorem is a save haven for the wicked and the weary; we secure you of a place with no distractions. And ladies: We created the safest place in the whole wide world to dump your fella.

Q. You offer a limited number of cuts (12) in your shop. This is certainly unique! Can you speak to this?

A. These cuts are the classics. They’ve proven themselves decade after decade, and will never lose their iconic status. You say 12 haircuts, but we actually think it's one: We believe every man's haircut is a flattop (which for us is the ultimate ‘masculine’ haircut). Let a flattop grow out for four months, and taper the neck, and you have a Pompadour or Executive Contour. It's really the square-ness of the cut that makes it masculine. We created the Schorem poster to make it easier for guys to pick the haircut they want; men don't want to sift through magazines – they just want to point at the wall and say “that one," and these classics form the base of every men's haircut.

Q. You have a photographer on your staff, and his images have become world famous. What are you looking to capture – and what message are you hoping to convey?

A. Hiring Jelle was an organic process; he walked into the shop one day and took a photo (of us) that we really liked. What we liked the most about him was that he wasn't messing around with lighting or telling us to pose. He cut away all the bull shit, which nicely surmises the Schorem mentality.

Together, we learned how to shoot models, and we made the posters that are now displayed on our walls. All of our subjects were shot in our extremely small backroom. It was a lot of me balancing on the stairs, trying to fix the hair, and Jelle cursing because the flash never worked. The images we captured were as raw and as real as you can have them: The haircuts were good, but far from perfect – and that's probably what makes Jelle's work so damn good.

At Schorem, we always say that barbering is a craft and the beauty of craftsmanship is that (unlike your mouth) you can't lie with your hands – and that’s exactly what Jelle's photos do: They speak the truth, not trying to make things look better then they are. We never look for a certain image. We just want to show the world what we do.

All images pictured here, complements of: Jelle Mollema Photography

Q. You’ve said that Schorem doesn’t do fashion, it does style. How would you differentiate the two?

A. I’ll answer this one with a cliché – but hey – clichés are what they are, because they’re (usually) true: Fashion fades but style is forever.

Don't get me wrong; we find fashion very exciting and interesting. After all, fashion can guide you in creating a solid sense of personal style. But the difference is that fashion is what you buy, and style is what you do with those things.

The best example is the iconic and style-heavy James Bond films. In a century you’ll be able to watch these films, and although the special effects might be out of date, James Bond will never loose his distinct sense of style. From the suits to the watches, the cars to the manner of conversation – his style is timeless. Women want him and men want to be him. Style is for the individual and fashion is for all.

Q. You’re longtime Hairbrained members, and are set to appear in HB’s upcoming ‘Teach In,’ taking place following this years NAHA event. How did you first connect with the Hairbrained community – and can you share your thoughts about ‘Teach In?’

A. For lack of a better term - I'm shitting my pant to be on stage with the legends featured at ‘Teach In’ – but I can't wait at the same time. I love what Hairbrained is doing for the trade, and I'm as proud as a seven-wanged monkey to join the ‘Teach In’ stage.

Q. If you could give one piece of advice to up-and-coming barbers, what would it be?   

A. Never forget that (in the end) it's always about the patron; the rest is futile.

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