Aug 18 2014
With the resurgence of old-school barbershops sprouting up around the globe, it is only fitting to shine a light on a few of the industry’s top male groomers who keep guys looking sharp, suave and, frankly, cool. We got the chance to grill the best scissor-wielding, clipper-clutching barbers across the country and get their thoughts on everything from facial hair to celebrity styles to the barbershop culture.
We all know a first impression can be a make-it-or-break-it moment, and for Eric DeBella, owner of Philly Bloke, the sophisticated and man-centric hair studio located just a few miles from the heart of Philadelphia, it starts from the hair down. Whether it be a James Dean recreation or a beard trim for the ages, Eric and his well-rounded staff make sure every guy who sits in one of Philly Bloke’s three chairs leaves feeling like a gentleman confident enough to make any impression a success.
How did you get started in men’s grooming?
As a young kid I was into fashion, clothes and hair. My mother worked in a hair salon, and I was always surrounded by people who owned salons and cut hair. But right after high school, I started working for Pepsi. I was there for six years when I finally realized that working there didn’t fit my personality, and that is when I gave the hair industry a try. I went to cosmetology school because I wanted the most well-rounded license that would give me the most opportunities. My goal at the time was to work in the top salons in my area, and that is what I did.
I consider myself a stylist and a barber. I started out with styling, and then moved to barbering, which is a separate craft in itself. It’s really important to know both sides.
What is your favorite part of the barbershop culture you’ve created?
When I opened Philly Bloke in January 2011, I wanted to create a place that men could call their own. My tagline for the shop is: Your hair, your time, our house—meaning when a guy comes in to Philly Bloke I want it to be an exceptional experience. The name Philly Bloke really represents an identity, for one person it might mean he is a successful business man, for another it could mean he is successful at family life.
Philly Bloke is a blend of both barbering and styling. I look for diversity when hiring because it’s important that we are able to cover all angles.
Why would a guy want to make Philly Bloke his spot?
We are all about being real and genuine. We try to make a lasting impression on every single person who sits in our chairs because, for us, it’s about being personal and professional. Some might say style starts with the shoes up, but I say it starts with the hair down. When you think back on iconic figures—Johnny Cash, James Dean, Elvis—they all have something to do with hair.
Do women ever come into the shop?
Wives of clients come in for the first consultation. Actually, women are big recruiters of my clientele because they seek out business on behalf of their guys. However, none come in for a cut.
You offer a service called “The Bloke Tandem,” where fathers and sons can come in for a cut at the same time. Why it is so important that a father and son visit a barbershop together?
It is their time together to bond. We hope it is something that they can both look forward to and an experience that will help build memories. When you get older you reflect back on life’s memories, and something like this will play a part.
What is one grooming tip every guy should live by?
Every guy should get to know the texture of his hair. Once he knows his texture, he will know what to do with it. For guys with thick, coarse hair, it’s important they don’t shampoo daily. Those guys need moisture. If he has thinner hair, he should know to apply products to dry hair to make it appear thicker and less transparent.
What are your rules when it comes to facial hair?
If a guy is heavier and wants a beard, he should avoid a high, defined line above the chin, which would give him a double chin. That is something to think about when lining up the beard. Also, I believe in sideburns, depending on length. If someone has a thinner face, sideburns can be used to fill out the face and create that oval shape that we desire.
No matter what facial hair you have, try to keep it well groomed. Facial hair on a guy often creates a first impression. If you like to keep it unruly, that says a lot about what you represent.
What is your favorite cut to give?
I’m more of a classic hair cutting stylist/barber—I’ve always loved James Dean’s look. My favorite is a scissor-over-comb cut that builds up to more weight and texture at the top of the head. I have a little bit of ’50s and ’80s in me, so I like a classic cut, as well as a high pompadour.
What do you do when not barbering?
I’m a foodie and movie buff.