Some HistoryMen always had facial hair.We know that culture has celebrated beardsand also removed them for millennia. This wasand is for various reasons. Of the morepractical ones: to avoid being grabbed at thebeard by an enemy during a battle. A shavedAlexander the Great is supposedly responsiblefor the widespread adoption of shaving amonghis soldiers.Beards have always served as a signal todistinguish men and women. Beards have alsodistinguished farmers from lords and blue- fromwhite-collar workers. Beards have thereforealways been a rich symbolic territory.
How-ToBefore the 20th century men largely used singlerazors. And if they didnʼt do it themselves,barbers offered a professional shave for themen who could afford it.“The 1880′s to the 1940′s were the golden age forbarbershops. During this time, men socialized inall male hangouts, and barbershops rivaledsaloons in popularity. Visiting the barbershop wasa weekly, and sometimes daily habit. Men wouldstop in not only for a haircut and a shave, but alsoto fraternize with friends and chew the fat.”Then came Mr. Gillette and invented the safetyrazor and after the wars, almost everybody usedsafety razors. Barbershops on the other hand weremostly wiped off the urban landscape.
The status-quo.Even with the threat of being grabbed in a battlegone, more than 1.7 billion men worldwide age15 years and older remove hair. 1.3 billion menshave with a blade and razor.The routine depicted to the left happens againand again and again without much thinking -most of the time with a Gillette razor, in front ofa mirror or in the shower.The clean-shaved men is now establishedmainstream. As are the billion dollar business-model that he supports and the values thecategory is built upon. Both are worth exploring. http://www.flickr.com/photos/28177041@N03/3001229803/sizes/z/in/photostream/
A Business Model Cultureof “Fuck everything. Weredoing ﬁve blades.”“The market? Listen, we make the market. All wehave to do is put her out there with a little jingle.Its as easy as, Hey, shaving with anything lessthan five blades is like scraping your beard off witha dull hatchet. Or Youll be so smooth, I couldsnort lines off of your chin. Try Your neck is goingto be so friggin soft, someones gonna walk up andtie a goddamn Cub Scout kerchief under it.”This is a category that poured $750 million intoR&D for a razor with three blades. Shortly after thesatirical Onion piece, ﬁve blades were a proﬁtablereality. This is a category that buys into the sciency,modern promise of progress, as in more is alwaysbetter. And it also buys into the power of makingpeople believe that. http://www.theonion.com/articles/fuck-everything-were-doing-five-blades,11056/
“Do men really need the new five-bladed Fusion, especially cons ideringthat Gillette is planning to sell Fus ion tblades at a stiff 30% premium ov he r azor heads tha er what it harp practice? T 2 .4 3now charges for "the best a man “S ak e, but sell for £http://www.businessweek.com/bwnf20050915_1654_db035.htm daily/dnflash/sep2005/ can get?" cost just 5p to m t- -razor-heads-cos each ” ticle-1191456/Sh arp-practice-The ail.co.uk/news/ar m http://www.daily ml#ixzz1KcuMao dT just-5p-make-sell-2-43-each.ht rst blade s were a joke. The fi zors with multiple riple “ON CE upon a time, ra mock commercial for the T Night Live included a e br oadcast of Saturday gan : Because youll believ razor, featuring the slo Track, a three-bladed anything.” m/gst/fullpage.html?res=9903E2DB153FF93AA25752C0A9609C8B63 http://query.nytimes.co “Some dermatologists say the five-blade des more blades mean mo ign smacks of overkill, re friction, and frictio because add more blades, ther n irritates the skin. W es a greater chance o hen you Ezra Kest, a dermatolo f nicks and razor burn gist in Beverly Hills. I , said Dr. not to use more tha always tell my pat n two blades.” ients
So what values does the category reinforce?The modern men myth.
In ʻ93 we see the ʻmodernʼ man.Modern, as in thriving and giving everything inbusiness, married, being a part-time father, athletic,nice and shaved.
In ’11 we again see the ‘modern’ man.And he is still thriving and giving everything inbusiness, married, athletic, nice and shaved.He might be full-body shaved, own an iPhone andhe might not work at Wall Street anymore, but notthat much has changed on a deeper level. This is inaccordance with the male mainstream that - insurveys - associates ʻmodernʼ with cosmopolitan,career-minded and athletic while women say theyregard men as modern if they are empathetic andtreat them on equal terms. http://diestandard.at/1282979025078/Deutschland-Der-moderne-Mann-ist-nur-ein-Mythos
To sum it up: the Gillette-shaved man isnt exactly arealistic, interesting or multilayered guy. And once hedoes interesting things, he gets axed. http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/dec/24/tiger-woods-dropped-by-gillette
Is all of this really The Best a Man Can Get? This is a market that made a joke and billions of dollars out of a once proud ʻmanlyʼ activity. Of a territory that was once regarded noble, even sacred maybe. The shaved man in the norms of the category could be seen as a symbol of mens submission. Submission to a corporate lifestyle and norms that regards facial hair as unprofessional and to an advertising and marketing machinery that treats them as dumb and needy. … like literally It g liiiides ove this – My w ife will l lieben’ ra u wirds kisses.’Meine F ‘Figh t ... for
Men* Are Under Pressure. On average, men are still earning more money than their female counterparts. They still hold the majority of senior positions in corporations and still only do a fraction of our worldʼs unpaid work. Numbers tell only so much though: real economic trends, pop culture and media discourse makes many men feel under pressure. After the ʻhe-cessionʼ, there is now a lot of talk about the end or decline of men. Globalization, immigration, highly educated and emancipated women - the ʻmodernʼ man has more things than ever to ʻworryʼ about and less time, money, rights and knowledge to actually do ʻtraditionally manlyʼ things.* Here meaning men in ʻWesternʼ countries. Unfortunately I canʼt conﬁdently stretch this assumption to Asia, Africa or South America.
So Some Men Are Angry...They retreat and turn to things that allow them tovent, like voting for right-wing, xenophobic parties inEurope for example, or buying a Dodge.This path would also be the easy shortcut for Kingof Shaves: Riding the wave of a destructive malebacklash until it breaks. But this would be amistake, as backlashes are usually more short-livedthan media discourses would want us think.As sociologist Kimmel puts it: Men have twooptions.“Are we going to be dragged into the future,kicking and screaming -- like the mens rights guys-- or are we going to go boldly, fearlessly, and say,‘What a minute: Whats in this for men?’” http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2011/03/29/scott_adams_mens_rights_movement/index.html#
.. and Others Take TheChanceMany men today, like women, take a chance toexplore their roles and experiment with them. Theycan use this to rediscover what it means to be aman in all the different aspects of life.“What the data clearly shows is that the men whoembrace gender equality are actually happier,healthier, live better lives, have better relationshipswith their friends, their wives and their kids. So Idont think its going to catch on.” (Kimmel)This doesnʼt mean they arenʼt be interested intraditionally masculine things. On the contrary, menworking in ofﬁce jobs increasingly desire authentic,DIY, real and interesting stuff. But unlike theirreactionary gender-mates they acknowledgeequality and are not afraid of the future.They can even admit weakness as a hero orincreasingly embrace sex toys as a partner or ... http://www.salon.com/life/feature/2011/02/19/vibrators_men
... show some countercultural facial hairthat says “Iʼm not a suit”, ...
... and maybe even visit a barber shop now and then. Also nowandnext.com brainmail.
This is the shift that Kind of Shaves should embrace: let the brandperform for men who are conscious about being good men. Men whomight feel the pressure, but who take the best of male heritage whileembracing a future, which might include cooking, looks and other thingstraditionally gendered female. King of Shaves should celebrate modernmenʼs journey and quest to become better in a world that doesnʼt reallywelcome them with open arms. Achievement, in this sense, isnʼt amilestone men reach, but the journey they are on. King of Shaves is hereduring that journey, from the ﬁrst whisker, to the ﬁrst date, to the daywhen the next generation takes over. Because a part of what will make agentlemen, now or in the future, is a decent shave.
We know most interesting man in the world doesntalways drink beer. But apparently he also doesntneedily shave in a ﬁght for kisses.(Could you overhear him say “I donʼt always shave, but when I shave I donʼt useone of those 5 blade pseudo-tool for kiddies”?)
Would they shave with ﬁve super-thin Gilletteblades and say “Ohh ... it glides”?
Or would Tom Fordʼs ﬁve rules for a moderngentlemen ever include a Gillette razor? “1. You should put on the best version of yourself when you go out in the world because that is a show of respect to the other people around you. 2. A gentleman today has to work. People who do not work are so boring and are usually bored. You have to be passionate, you have to be engaged and you have to be contributing to the world. 3. Manners are very important and actually knowing when things are appropriate. I always open doors for women, I carry their coat, I make sure that theyre walking on the inside of the street. Stand up when people arrive at and leave the dinner table. 4. Dont be pretentious or racist or sexist or judge people by their background. 5. A man should never wear shorts in the city. Flip-flops and shorts in the city are never appropriate. Shorts should only be worn on the tennis court or on the beach.”- While #5 might be a bit superﬁcial, the other points resonate with what King of Shavesshould be. http://www.anothermag.com/exclusives/tom-ford
King of Shaves should base itself on theassumption that certain good things men didin the past are still valid and relevant todayand will be tomorrow - a good shave forexample, or even a good shave in a barbershop. And it should also be conﬁdent aboutdoing supposedly female things, such astaking care of kids or cooking. Therefore, thesource material is everything that supports thisbelieve and can give conﬁdence and a guidinglight for the many men out there. These can bebiographies, books about manners, the currentdiscourse or the stories of the men we want tocelebrate.
Milton Glaser once said that not less is more,but ʻJust Enough is Moreʼ. One doesnʼt needless experience to be a good men in a certainsituation, but just enough. The King of Shavesuses two blades, which are just enough. It chargesless money than Gillette, but ʻenoughʼ to be goodquality. It celebrates manliness, but not in anextreme and overdone, but subtle way thatcommunicates understatement and conﬁdence.
All of the before-mentioned raises a questionabout doing and merely playing a role.“The riggers, welders, and boilermakers of generations past weren’twearing overalls to feel like men, as Susan Faludi, the author of books onboth sexes, has pointed out. Instead, ‘their sense of their own manhoodflowed out of their utility in a society, not the other way around,’ she writes.‘Conceiving of masculinity as something to be turns manliness into[something] ornamental, and about as ‘masculine’ as fake eyelashes areinherently ‘feminine.’”As Tom Ford puts it: “You have to be passionate, you have to be engagedand you have to be contributing to the world“. True ʻmanlinessʼ is somethingto be done, not something to be played. And doing means experiencing togain experience. Axe offers an instant solution to manliness, but real manknow that there are no shortcuts to interestingness - or becoming agood man. http://www.newsweek.com/2010/09/20/why-we-need-to-reimagine-masculinity.html#
This suggests two things:1) Men donʼt have the time, talent, guts or money to do all the stuff the MostInteresting Man In The World, the Man Your Man Could Smell Like or SeanConnery do, so the King of Shaves should bring them closer to the alluringworld of modern, storied gentlemen. All of this without the irony of the beforementioned, but with dry understatement.2) Gillette demands more than double the price for its high-tech blades. Mendonʼt need ﬁve blades and they certainly donʼt want to pay a 100% pricepremium to a billion dollar corporation. There is simply no good reason aGillette Fusion should be in a manʼs toolkit.
What to do?1) In TV (if possible) and print, celebrate the history of multifaceted,multilayered men who know the rules for a future-oriented moderngentlemen. People like Keith Richards, Sean Connery, Tom Ford and TheMost Interesting Man In The World are interesting blueprints for men whohave learned and experienced a lot and who could credibly say that paying12$ for unnecessary, sciency shaving tech isnʼt exactly the smart manʼschoice.2) Associate King of Shaves with an authentic barber shop shave. On thewebsite and maybe packaging conﬁdently stress the heritage, importanceand beneﬁts of a great barber shop shave now and then. Provide a barbershop map. Make barber shops Kind of Shavesʼ best friend, so that theysuggest King of Shaves as the best non barber shop experience. If necessaryand possible produce one original single blade for barbers.3) Combine 1 and 2.4) As for tone and setting: Let the men have a beard. Beards are a richsymbol and eventually have to be shaved or trimmed. King of Shaves doesnʼthave a reason to be afraid of beards or barber shops.5) Consider switching packaging to ʻjust enough is moreʼ style (e.g. wooden-style, minimalistic metal) to distinguish from the tech-design of the category.
In a world that has lost the sense for what manliness andmasculinity actually means, King of Shaves celebrates themodern gentlemen.These are men who are fed up with the old role models andcliches of what it means to be a true man as much as they dontplan to fall into oblivion. Men who know the good manners thatbeing a good man brought with it in the past, as well as thefuture challenges that lie ahead. Men who seek to navigatethrough the interesting journeys of life on a quest to becomebetter as a person. Men who know their heritage, but who arenot afraid of the future. Or of women, for that matter.King of Shaves is here to light a light for them, as they areconfronted with the many options and traps modern society haslaid out for them. We believe that just enough is more and trueconfidence isnt associated with the riches we carry, but thethings that made us. We dont buy into the old masculine mantraof failure is not an option but encourage making experiences,for experience is what really makes the man of the 21st century.