Why are Retro Barber Shops So Popular in the 21st Century?

Have you noticed a new barbershop near you recently? If you did, know that you weren’t the only one. According to statistics, they have been opening up everywhere in the past few years. In fact, the men’s grooming products market is estimated at $38 billion in 2020. And barbershops alone have reached revenue of more than $1.1 billion this year. More than fifty percent of American men visit barbers, and the ones that aren’t on the trend are looking to join. So, one can’t help but wonder; why are retro barber shops so popular in the 21st century?

History of barbershops

To understand why barbershops are so popular today, we need to take a walk down memory lane. And unsurprisingly, these places have a rich history. Traditionally, these were a lot more than a space for getting a haircut. Barbershops were where people went to socialize and enjoy entertainment

Visiting barbershops was a weekly ritual. It wasn’t unusual for men to wait in line for a shave and a haircut. And there were many reasons for this. For starters, barbers were known for developing unique social connections with their clients. So, men went there to have a break from their routine

In a way, these places were social clubs rather than ordinary hairdresser’s saloons. Their beautiful designs were only a bonus. And that aspect of them seems to be present today also. But, before we start talking about that, let’s see what made them disappear in the 20th century.

In past times, visiting a barber was a weekly ritual. Alt tag: Old man at a barbershop thinking about why are retro barber shops so popular in the 21st century.


As great as barbershops were, their popularity declined quite a bit during the 20th century. And it all started in the 1900s with the invention of the safety razor. Although this is still the case today, in those times, the price of the barbershop couldn’t compare with the price of a new razor. It was a much more affordable alternative. However, there were other factors also.

  • The Great Depression
  • World War 2
  • The trends of long hair and beards in the 1960s and 70s

In such a turbulent century, the need to visit barbershops became a thing of the past. And that lasted until a few years back. Then, everything changed.

Barbershops taking the industry by storm

The main reason why barbershops are back is that men started focusing on establishing a strong identity and a sense of masculinity through professional grooming. Additionally, the marketing has changed also. Nowadays, men are being pitched a lifestyle, which changes things a lot.

We can safely say that barbershops that you can go to today aren’t the same type of barbershops that your grandfather may have visited. But, that is to be expected a hundred years later. Nowadays, customers are treated to the full, luxurious experience of receiving high-end services. You can join your daily coffee and groom into the same thing or just sip on your beer or scotch while waiting for a shave. 

These are the options your grandfather didn’t have. And these made barbering one of the fastest-growing professions in the US. According to market experts, it’s an industry that will only develop more. So, it makes sense to start looking for a barber school in the area if this is something that strikes your interest.

Photo by Kamile Leo on Unsplash

Offering access to lounges and high-end services is why retro barber shops are so popular in the 21st century. Alt tag: Man getting a haircut.

What is different?

As we already mentioned, one of the biggest reasons why retro barber shops are so popular in the 21st century is that they’re changing with times. Although attention was always paid to the interior decorations, nowadays focus is on contemporary designs. The lighting is brighter, and sound systems keep customers in the groove. 

And since the world was struck by the COVID-19 pandemic last year, booking services online has been perfected. Also, the waiting period for customers has been reduced significantly, and Wi-Fi, phone charging points, and television have been standard for quite some time now. 

The fact that men started wearing more complex hairstyles only boosted the prospects of the industry. And people with beards started being nominated for the most stylish man of the year, which is also good marketing for barbershops.  

The straight shaving concept

In the old times, shaving has always been done in a sitting position. However, men started looking for added comfort and variety. So, the concept of straight shaving was born.

The trick is to allow the customer to lay down and enjoy the experience of being shaved in the most relaxed position. Essentially, people feel like they’ve come for a massage, and they leave with a clean face and a new haircut. It’s just another example of how things are changing to suit the customer’s tastes and preferences.

However, this option calls for more space and better alignment of the shop. And that would be a problem in the past. Luckily, landlords are basically competing for barbershops nowadays.


With recent times came new concepts. Alt tag: Straight shaving process.

Why landlords love barbershops so much?

If you ask them, it’s a no-brainer. All the landlords want is to fill their retail vacancies with fresh concepts. And health and beauty have been one of the bright spots in their horizons for some time now. The reason is simple. It’s the industry that’s exempt from the e-commerce competition. You can’t get a haircut online, at least not yet.

With added amenities and higher prices, these luxury barbershops can even outmatch the rents of high-end salons. And that doesn’t come as a surprise to the experts. New barbers are offering an experience and a kind of lifestyle. According to them, that’s experiential retail done right.

New products are introduced every day

Whether we’re talking about shaving creams, lotions, or hair styling products, both men and women are keen on going organic in modern times. This made barbershops use products with a more natural composition

Additionally, body massage techniques and methods are being incorporated into some barbershops, while others introduced yoga therapists. These trends come and stay because customers want them. So, the variety and quality of services are the reasons why retro barber shops are so popular in the 21st century.

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