Ruffians by Name, not by Nature
The barbers on Maiden Lane offers a traditional and comfortable barbering experience fusing the old school with a spot of modern science
Review by Nicolas Payne-Baader
The barbers shop can be a funny place in 2015, a little too associated with Swallow Tattoos, statement beards and trying to define yourself by who trims your locks; if that’s what floats your boat then fine but sometimes it’s nice to go somewhere which feels a little bit more grown up and a little less self-conscious.
Ruffians is just such a place: originally from Edinburgh, Ruffians was founded in 2012 due to a frustration with a lack of customer service in existing places. Their London branch – tucked away on Maiden Lane just between Charring Cross and Covent Garden Plaza – has been open since 2013 and last year won The Creative Head awards for Best Salon Team and Rising Star for Tommy Cunliffe who started at the shop as a trainee. It also comes as little surprise that they’ll be opening up a second location on Wigmore Street next year.
A surprisingly large location with eight chairs, Ruffians has the laid back and friendly air. Universally friendly staff are on hand to offer a drink, yes craft beer is an option as is drip coffee (that trendy sort of drip coffee but at least it’s not a bloody flat white) as well as a changing array of whiskies.
The shop is kitted out with exposed brick and dark wood around the most outrageously comfortable barber’s chair I’ve sat in for a long time which also has a special built in mechanism to prevent hairs going down your neck as well as being able to fully recline for wet shaves and beard trims. The main part of the shop is arranged around two large cutting tables so chairs face each other with the work top and mirrors in between (you don’t have to have your hair cut staring at stranger) which creates a nice atmosphere away from the slightly sterile and awkward ‘look at the wall’ set ups of most barbershops. The atmosphere is certainly helped by the staff seeming to genuinely quite like each other which is as pleasing as it may be surprising.
The place is overseen by manager Lilly Dillon, a fully trained trichologist (the study of the structure, functions and diseases of human hair) as well as very experienced barber, hairdresser, and teller of funny and ribald stories. The haircut she administers has everything you would hope for from a traditionally informed barber including the forward facing hair wash (I believe they do have the backward facing hair wash capability if it’s not your bag), straight razor finish around the neck line and a hot towel at the end.
Haircuts are of course a very personal thing but Ruffians really does seem to care about not leaving any boxes unticked and Lilly’s friendly manner and expertise set the tone for the rest of the place where the substance certainly overcomes the significant amounts of style.