Feb 27, 2018
A Cut Above
Let's take a step back in time for a moment.
Let's head back to a time when when men didn't leave the house without a fresh shave, a crisp collared shirt, and a slick haircut. For decades, we were a polished lot, but then, something changed. We opted for dirty jeans instead of trousers, tees over button-ups, and more than a few of just stopped shaving outright. The attention to detail that had dominated men's grooming for countless decades had fallen by the wayside.
But then, things began to change.
In cities across the country, the art of barbering has made huge comeback. After decades spent keeping it casual, men are once again opting for the vintage-inspired haircuts, straight-razor shaves, and embracing the beauty of nostalgia.
Enter the recently opened Phil's Barber Shop in Ward Village. As you walk into their location on the ground floor of the Anaha residential tower, you're instantly transported back in time. On the wall, a constellation of framed photographs from a bygone era are intricately displayed while the likes of Nat King Cole gently croons a familiar tune. Say, it's only a paper moon…Sailing over a cardboard sea…But it wouldn't be make-believe…If you…be-lieved…in me. It truly feels as if you've stepped back in time. What's old has become new.
As it turns out, the "Phil" in Phil's Barber Shop is the owner, Joe Randazzo's, late-grandfather, Phil Marsala, a professional barber originally from Palermo, Sicily. He created the original Phil's Barber Shop in Michigan, back in 1931. And though Joe's own father was technically neither a barber nor hairdresser, Joe was fascinated with the craft from an early age, was trained and hired at Vidal Sassoon in Chicago (the gold standard of hair dressing) and even became the artistic director there.
After a stint in New York City, teaching at academies around the world, and even styling at New York Fashion Week, Joe wanted to escape the East Coast winters and in 1999, moved to Honolulu. By 2003, he and business partner, Gary Casupang, started J Salon, the successful, modern and minimalistic salon this barber shop now shares a space with. It was only two years ago when Joe opened Phil's, both an ode to his grandfather's original shop, and a much-needed classic, old school-style barber shop for patrons on the island. While J Salon and Phil's Barber Shop were once a few blocks away, they've recently moved into the ground floor of Anaha at Ward Village.
Joe, who's actually done classes in Holland with the Schorem Barbers (the best in barber world), is the embodiment of sophistication and a true savant with the shears. Merchandise, including balms, pomades, oils, pastes, creams, tonics and hair potions of all kinds are neatly displayed for sale as well as rare Italian toothpaste co., Marvis, and a host of other apothecary-like items. To be sure, getting a haircut at Phil's (if you're looking for a true treat, opt for a straight-razor shave) is an experience, a trip back in time when a level of care, attention to detail and sense of style hasn't been lost.
"I appreciate good design," says Joe. "I love architecture and modernism and clean lines and I think that definitely translates to hair for me. I think our style here is minimalistic and modern, more architectural than anything else, if that makes sense. Architecture or interior design is probably what I would've done if I didn't do hair."
Overhead, Sinatra's smooth-as-silk voice fills the warm tropical air, reinforcing the sense of nostalgia. This place is truly special. In the fast-paced-go-go-go atmosphere of today, finding a locale that places a premium on quality, detail isn't just good for you looks, but it's good for your soul. Let's just be thankful that Joe opted for the shears over the drafting table.
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