The barbering scene in Malaysia has evolved from a traditional barbershop to a more modern barbershop that offers more than a haircut or a shave.
StarLifestyle speaks to three young Malaysian barbers who have set up their barbershop business with the aim of providing clients with a barbering experience that is professional and relaxing.
In the first of our two part series, 24-year-old barber Faez Zenon of Zenon Barbershop in Kuala Lumpur tells us what he enjoys about barbering and what it means to him.
Also read: Malaysia's next-gen barbers (Pt. 2): Personalised services and a relaxing ambiance
Everywhere you go, whether in a residential neighbourhood or an upscale shopping mall, there’s suddenly a swankier version of the barbershop.
Some may be more luxe while others have a minimalist approach, but both offer men a new type of barbering service.
These barbershops are mainly run and frequented by the younger generation, providing an alternative to the more traditional ones.
Their services usually include consultation, grooming and after care to make it a more pampering and relaxing experience.
That retro feel
Zenon Barbershop in Kuala Lumpur is quite unlike the traditional barbershop with its gallery of black and white photos. There’s even a guitar on the wall.
Faiz Zenon, 24, Zenon’s co-owner says the interior is a reflection of his and his brother’s passion. They like cutting hair and rock and roll music.
“My older brother and I got black and white photos of musicians framed up to give our barbershop a retro feel, and we loved the use of wood as shelves for our tools and products for a natural look, ” says Faiz, who grew up in the barbershop which his brother opened in 2010.
It was a foregone conclusion for him to enroll in a hair academy and follow in his brother’s footsteps.
“Barbers need a keen understanding of different head shapes and hair patterns to find the right cut to suit that person.
“When a client is happy with our services, it’s unsurprising if he makes it a point to travel 100km to our barbershop just to have a haircut with us, ” adds Faez, part of a new generation of barbers who believes that a man’s hair cutting experience is more than just a quick dash in and out of the barber shop.
Their young customers expect their barber to understand and share their desire to be well-groomed and trendy, so they expect haircuts that are fashionable.
Faez has two to five barbers (on weekends) to meet these demands: “Depending on our clients’ jobs, they come in either monthly or twice a month. Those in aviation or in luxury retail need to look neat and professional every day, and will need a haircut every two weeks.”
They even have their own in-house brand (F&ZE Styling and Zenon LockIt Spray).
Price-wise, Faez acknowledges that the traditional barbershops may be cheaper but it’s because they offer a very basic and quick haircut.
“For modern barbershops like ours, we can’t offer low prices as it will not be sustainable for our business. We have seen a lot of cheap barber shops close down.”
Apart from the satisfaction of excelling in his craft, Faiz also enjoys interacting with his clients.
“The human connection. My clients have become close friends and I’ve seen how their family grew over the years.”