THE MANE ATTRACTION
Truefitt & Hill, the world’s oldest barbershop, continues to innovate after two centuries of styling some of the world’s most famous heads
Herein lies a paradox. Joanna Broughton, the Executive Director of Truefitt & Hill – the world’s oldest barbershop – is adamant that the secret to the firm’s longevity is its willingness to break free of the shackles of convention. “We must know what our customers want before they know it themselves,” she enthuses. “We must remain relevant at all times to the needs of the modern man in order to continue to thrive.”
In essence, what has made this venerable institution the world’s most respected barbershop over the course of its 215-year history is its spirit of perpetual innovation. It is this drive for progress that led the company to apply to be the world’s first carbon-neutral male grooming establishment, working with only the most environmentally aware suppliers. It is why Truefitt has expanded to holding evening functions and masterclasses, with guest speakers delivering talks on a wide variety of subjects, from conservation and humanitarian issues to architecture, fashion and grooming. And it is why the brand has a research-and-development team that hunts out innovations.
The company’s ethos, however, has never been about rejecting history so much as treasuring and embracing it. William Francis Truefitt opened his shop on 21 October 1805 and soon established himself as the court wig-maker, hair-cutter and head dresser to King George III. In 1870, the brand embraced the new ideals of the age and launched its first ladies salon on Old Bond Street, and in 1935 it acquired the hairdressing business of Edwin Hill, creating the name, which is today a byword for male grooming excellence.
Truefitt soon became the destination of choice for a who’s who of international greats. An impressive client list has included the likes of Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde, Alfred Hitchcock, Laurence Olivier, Frank Sinatra, Cary Grant, John Wayne and Winston Churchill. Today, Truefitt & Hill is honoured to hold a Royal Warrant of Appointment to HRH The Duke of Edinburgh.
“We are the only male grooming establishment in the world to have the benefit of over 200 years of continuous passage of skills and knowledge,” says Joanna. “One generation of master barbers trains the next, so the mastery of service is passed from generation to generation, decade after decade. Our clients are drawn to the manner in which they are greeted when they enter the shop and the unique authenticity of the décor. All these elements weave together to create an unforgettable ambience. We don’t just provide services, we offer a unique experience which is savoured by our clients who often liken us to a gentleman’s club.”
The blend of old and new is now more explicit. For instance, new hairstyling lines replicate packaging of the company’s products recovered from the wreck of the Titanic. And, while the product names reach deeply into the company’s past, its formulations incorporate the latest technological advances. Another example is Truefitt’s sought-after collection of colognes, some of which date back to the 1800s. The company has even relaunched its C.A.R. hair cream and lotion, blended initially in the early 1900s in association with the Royal Automobile Club, for trendsetting dandies battling the wind in open-top vehicles.
“We’re passionate about what we do,” says Joanna. “We’re very proud of our brand, but there is also a huge responsibility to ensure that it thrives for centuries to come. There is always room for improvement, and we aim to be the very epitome of perfection.”