Cut above the rest: Artisanal concept barbershops in Metro Manila

Talas Manileño artisanal barbershops

As someone who grew up on sub-50-peso haircuts at friendly neighborhood barbershops, the emergence of high-end artisanal ones is something I find quite hard to grasp. Can the exponential price difference between these establishments be rationalized or, at the end of the day, is it all snake oil?

Admittedly, the look and feel between the two is night and day, but is the difference in quality, in the end product, as noticeable as you’d want? In an effort to answer these burning questions, Speed traveled across the Metro to visit four of these concept barbershops and tried to get to know what makes them tick.

1Talas Manileño

Nestled in the heart of Cubao is Talas Manileño. A lot of people are familiar with Talas Manileño because one of its owners is actor Jericho Rosales. Make no mistake about it, however, as the showbiz stops there. Once you step inside, it’s all business.

There’s no fanfare to greet you or pomp and circumstance. What you receive instead are warm hellos and an invitation to take a seat to have your haircut. The two-floor space is quaint and, during busy times, can feel a bit cramped. Once everyone settles down, however, it quickly goes back to being cozy.

One thing you’ll notice is that the design, which was done by one of the partners, furniture and interior designer Budji Layug, is deliberate. Nary a stone is out of place. Once you’re sitting down, your eyes will immediately find their way to the repurposed Ginebra gin bottles that they use as spray bottles, adding a dash of whimsy that’s just so perfect for something as manly as a barbershop. Looking at the interiors more closely, you’ll see accents that are distinctly Filipino, something that Talas is proud to be.

We got curious and asked the team behind Talas Manileño, which also includes Kim Jones and Marvin Germo, on what kind of customer experience or lifestyle Talas Manileño promotes.

“We’re proudly Filipino and so we incorporate that into our experience as much as possible. We want to create a uniquely Pinoy experience of barbering and grooming, and bring that to the rest of the world with all our quirks, humor, and culture. Our services are Tasá, Ahit, and Pisil. You’ll see sungka and dama on our tables, and hear Pinoy artists on our playlists—we don’t want to introduce the culture of grooming from abroad. We want to create our own and promote Filipino on a global scale—and that’s our edge.”

Words and photos Ron Cruz
First published in Speed March 2017