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Need A Trim? Head To Ruffians

Tuesday 31 March 2015
Words Ailis Mara

Is it just us, or can a trip to the hairdressers end up being somewhat of an ironic experience? You’re the one that is handing over the cash, you’re the owner of your own… hair, yet somehow you feel pressured to please the hairdresser and establish that flow of conversation, like a Tinder date that you both accidentally swiped ‘yes’ to? Then, even if you don’t like the end result, the natural response is “thank you very much” before walking away like a one night stand that isn’t quite sure what happened.

Luckily, refuge comes from Ruffians.

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Along a cobbled street in London’s Covent Garden, with its infamous maze of boutiques, hides a barbers that has a traditional and masculine heart. And more importantly, its ethos is to be more than just a grooming parlor, but a rustic hub for creatives to socialise and be inspired. Imagine the pages of GQ coming to life, and there you have the brickwork to Ruffians.

Unlike many establishments, the ‘waiting room’ and first welcome is out of the norm and more of a living room. Antique charmed armchairs are next to a roaring log fire, with jenga piles of art-house books to get you settled in for starters. Maybe you’re in line for a meeting with Sherlock Holmes, or maybe it’s just a beard trim, only time will tell. What’s more, unlike those generic water cooler machines that bring the tone and refreshment down at most places, Ruffians are on hand to change that. In an open kitchen area with an industrial gated cloakroom to the side, freshly ground coffee is offered straight up. A member of staff is putting the porcupine stamps on the cups, and jokes of it being “that scene in Friends where Phoebe is on cup duty at a party.” Being a little of a snob when it comes to coffee, there was no trouble drinking it all and wanting more, but to trump this, a beer was offered from their ever-changing seasonal menu. The current persuasion is a Meantime pale Ale, but previous alcoholic cameos have come from the likes of Drambuie and Jura Whisky, so there’s clearly no rush to get the hair and beard in place when you’re sat there.

You feel like you’re part of a secret society, where the staff are genuinely interested in investing friendship rather than seeking an in-and-out regime to hairdressing. So much so, that they’ve hosted poker nights, whisky tasting, pop-cup clothes shops, and pending restaurant evenings. All the more reasons to fix up and look sharp with the stubble. Lucky you’re at Ruffians then.

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As for the haircut itself. We’re appointed Joe, who has been with the Covent Garden branch from the start. You feel immediately at ease thanks to the importance on ‘the consultation’. They listen to your vision, as obscure as it might be, and give friendly feedback about whether you’ve lost the plot, but in doing so also offer their expertise to meet in the middle with a look that might just work. The staff are hired not purely on their skill level, but also their intellect and cultured grounds in the city. As a result, they have something to say outside of the generic ‘how has your day been’ sort of behaviour that some hairdressers are bracketed for. Skill wise, the haircut and beard trim was exceptional; the vintage-like sink is in front of you, avoiding that painful backward neck arch that other barbers insist on. Which, for us, is like an everyday scene from Saw. The warm-flannel given to you after the cut is infused with bergamot oil, and a head hoover does what it says on the tin… Meaning a night out is the obvious port-of-call rather than a shower straight away. Oh, and did we mention they send you on your way with a spray from one of their in-house aftershaves?

As you can probably tell, from how much we’ve written, you can spend a chunky amount of time in Ruffians, because it’s a treat to be there. For those wanting to bring quirks to regular practice in their life, Ruffians is full of character without being pretentious in the slightest.