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Tucked in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Tommy Guns is a barber shop-inspired hair salon established in 1994. Furnished with classic barber chairs, nickel, mirror, and glass cabinetry—vintage pieces culled from the late 1880s to the 1960s—the salon sets itself apart with its authentic retro look. Catering to both men and women, Tommy Guns founder Russell Manley explains to us how to get the classic short back and sides or the Mad Men look.
Here is what we asked him when we spoke in person.
Racked reporter David Chen in the chair
Racked: So we noticed your accent, where are you from?
Russell: I'm originally from London where Tommy Guns started in the Soho neighborhood.
Racked: How long have you been in the business?
Russell: Oh, that's a scary question! It must be about 25 years.
Racked: So when was Tommy Guns founded in New York?
Russell: In 1994. Back in the Soho shop in London, I basically found an old barber shop that got shut down, and kept the original nickel cabinets and marble tops from 1927—and that's what we've copied here from the original cabinetry in London.
Racked: How do you get women to come into a barber shop?
Russell: Well, actually, we are a vintage style hair salon with the barber shop aesthetic. In London, the concept worked very well, actually, but we were nervous in the beginning that women wouldn't understand that this is a women's salon as well. That's also why the price point is slightly higher than a regular barber shop.
Racked: With the price point in mind, what's the clientele like?
Russell: Mainly people in publication—well that's a generalization—but mostly people in design. Clients range from their early twenties to their sixties here.
Racked: In terms of the haircut—what do people call it? The Mad Men cut?
Russell: Well, there isn't a specific name for this cut since it evolved slightly from the 1950s to the 1960s. The cut that most guys have in the Mad Men show is called the classic short back and sides. Depending on the age group during the era, the sides of the cut ranges from a longer style that was slicked back to a style that we are doing today — where the sides are shaved a bit shorter.
Racked: We noticed that men in that show definitely put on a lot of product. What do you recommend for men today if they want to sport this look?
Russell: Most the products back then were petroleum-based and are not good for your hair. We use water soluble products here at Tommy Guns which means that these products would wash right out when you take a shower. Then again, I can't make a general recommendation about hair products because hair products are very specific to the person, depending on the hair type. For you, I recommend using a pomade like Layrite or Cool Grease and then finishing it off with our climate control styling spray. The climate control styling spray works like a liquid hair spray to give your hair the hold. —David Chen
· Tommy Guns [Official Site]