The Italian Influence…
A look at what grooming traits British gentlemen have adopted from the Italians
Article by Laurence Culloty
With fashion hotspots such as Milan, Florence and Rome, Italy has always been considered by many to be the epicentre of style. Italian men are renowned for pushing boundaries and for years have set the precedent for the rest of Europe to follow.
So, where do we as British men fit in? Well, I think it is fair to say that we too, can take credit for our impact on the fashion world. With many of the world’s most famous designers and tailors calling the UK home, you don’t have to look too far to spot a dapper gent. Increasingly, we are seeing the boundaries being pushed and more avant-garde cuts and patterns being adopted, many of which are influenced by current Italian trends. Running parallel to the emphasis placed on male fashion, is the increasingly popular necessity of presentation and overall look. With the current trend and rise in men taking pride in their appearance, comes a host of products to facilitate our newfound grooming habits. Recent statistics suggest that 71 per cent of men spend 30 minutes or more prepping in the morning. The bathroom cabinet space is now rather likely to be stocked with both male and female grooming products in near equal proportions…
Men’s grooming is not a new concept. In fact, its origins can be dated as far back as the Ancient Egyptians. It was believed that the unshaven appearance indicated low social ranking, so much so, that the wealthy felt compelled to employ full time barbers for the specific task of maintaining their well kempt look. Despite this, in the UK, it is only in recent years that increased social acceptance has allowed men the freedom to take a greater interest in grooming. It is no longer considered a challenge to their masculinity thanks, in part, to the influence of public figures such as David Beckham.
Today, the UK male grooming industry is booming, with a recent study conducted by Mr Porter suggesting a 300 per cent growth in male grooming during 2015 alone. In this rapidly growing market, it is fascinating to take a step back and consider how the grooming routines that British men partake in have developed. In addition to taking inspiration from the Italian’s sartorial style, there is now evidence to suggest that the same can be said for our grooming traits.
The barber in Italian life remains to this day an important past time and social focal point, where a hot-towel shave in addition to a haircut is considered the norm. The origins of this concept are not only traceable to that of the Ancient Egyptian male, but also to the Romans, where a shaved face separated a free man from a slave. A short walk around any major UK city today reveals a vast array of traditional barber shops that have made a comeback in a big way, many of whom are charging a premium for the authentic experience. This has also lead the way for the birth of more specific ‘Male grooming salons’ which have sprung up in recent years and offer an ever increasing array of services and products. Similarly, the resurgence of the beard which spent years in style wilderness, was seen sported by Italian gentlemen such as football legend and style icon Andre Pirlo years before its big comeback in the UK.
So what about products? As would be expected, with the growth of the industry as a whole, a multitude of new products and brands have flooded the market. So, how do we choose our products and what should we be looking out for? As consumers, we need to make an informed choice of product. Following my research on how Italy is influencing this current market, I have identified two key things that I feel rank highly on the agenda; firstly, we need to pay attention to quality and secondly, on passion.
One company that seems to tick both these boxes is #Barba Italiana which has recently been launched in the UK. The company brand themselves as ‘a marriage along tradition, innovation and poetry’ with an aim of bringing a vintage style to the contemporary man. As the name suggests the products are made in Italy bringing with it a level of nostalgia. Their product range covers a wide spectrum with everything from Beard Care to Hair styling offering a complete grooming solution for the modern discerning man. Definitely worth a try.
On reflection, the British gents of today are a well-groomed bunch and this is only set to continue. We may not quite be at the level of the Italians but in my opinion we rank a close second! Keep it up Gentlemen!
#Barba Italiana will be showcasing their products at The Gentleman’s Grooming Show 2016 www.gentlemansgroomingshow.co.uk