Hair veteran Paul Gerrard looks excited as he leads us to his new venture – Era Barbers, a bright red store front nestled on the slope of Pottinger Street, Soho.

There we are introduced to long time barbers, Roger and Lee.

The shop interior is polished with 1950’s American household glamour. It reflects much of Paul’s personality – quirky, fun and oozing with cool vibes. Interestingly, unlike Paul’s bustling main salon across the street, Era Barbers is a tranquil, relaxing place – echoing the old school hang out culture of barbershops in the West.

Era Barbers specialize in slick rockabilly vintage haircuts, beard trim/shaves for men.

Spa Monkey test subject Edward is keen to try out a new cut. He goes for a “Stray Cat” – a wash, cut and finish.

Edward is a little concerned whether that 50’s American-Euro look would suit him, as Asian and Western hair is very different. The shave is also out of the question in Ed’s case, as he’s proudly facial-hairless. We ask questions while Ed is being tended to.

Era Barber cuts have a very distinct vintage style that originates from the West. How does this work with Asian hair? Are there some styles that work better than others?

Asian hair is great! It’s usually thicker than western hair and has a natural gloss to it.

The trick is to get the shape and styling right – Asian hair is so resilient that I actually get splinters from it sometimes! [Chuckles in amazement] Achieving that sleek, shiny look without looking greasy on Asian hair is no issue – in fact I would say it compliments Asians amazingly well. Everyone has a different style, so I cut each person depending on their personal look.

However, we do tend to stay away from that over layered, scruffy look so common in modern hair trends – our cuts are carefully even and uniform to give that gentrified, elegant appearance.

[With that, he takes out a shiny new blade (they use a new one for each customer) and starts giving Ed the closest cut he’s ever had.]

What about bear maintenance and care?

People underestimate the effort it takes to keep a beard looking good! We have customers who come regularly to keep it trimmed – with beards, you need to be careful not to overdo it and end up looking messy or worse, dirty. I recommend using proper facial hair products to keep it in place, with regular trims.

Tell us a bit about Barbering.

Barbering is not the same as hairdressing. I’ve been barbering for over twenty seven years, (I’m originally from New Zealand). Back home, there is a distinct difference between going to a barbershop and a hair salon. Barbers and hairdressers are trained differently – from very different schools of styling. Barbers have traditionally focused on male hair care and grooming – we do accept female customers of course, if they would like a barbered cut.

This concept has been around a long time in the West, but not as much in Hong Kong. This retro glam type of look is extremely popular right now all over Europe; we can see that it’s catching on here in Hong Kong, amongst both expatriate and local men.

Any tips for man hair maintenance and styling?

[Roger passes us a small can] Here. This is Pomade. It’s a really good product that gives a shiny, slick finish. It’s not like wax or gel – more of an in between.

It’s surprisingly uncommon in Hong Kong but I use it to style customers when they are here and they love it. I suggest for customers to use wax or clay products on dry hair – those types of products style dry hair much better.

Any advice for customers interested in trying out a new cut here?

At the end of the day, it’s about the look you want; if you like vintage elegance and that sleek, natural style of the 1950’s – you’ve come to the right place. We definitely specialize in a certain style here and if it’s something you’re interested in trying out, we’d be happy to walk you through it.

Our services range from cuts like our Rebel (buzz cut, single grade) to a full Stray Cat.

We do a good James Dean too (wet shave).

I was a bit concerned at first as I wasn’t sure if that Western vintage look would suit me, but honestly I am really happy with my new cut. I think I’m going to be keeping this style for a long time – it’s neat, easy to maintain and my friends immediately noticed a big difference. It’s also unique – the cut looks like it came out of a black and white portrait from the past, it’s slick and neat.

I’ve just started working full time alongside a lot of corporate clientele – this style gels really well when I’m in a suit. I think I look more professional now – which is a huge plus.