Hidden a few streets away from Latimer Road station, tucked inside a studio unit on the corner of a housing estate, is one of London’s finest hidden grooming gems. Carter and Bond, established in 2002, offers traditional cut and shave services of the highest quality, as well as a store touting a range of superb male grooming products sourced from across the globe.
Entering now its tenth anniversary year, Carter and Bond’s focus on quality, hard-to-come by goods is spearheaded by managing director Joe Cotton, whose time in the armed forces helped cultivate an appreciation for the finer points of men’s grooming practices.
“We’ve found that people want to go back to quality products that they can trust and traditional grooming and shaving regimes that were being lost,” explains Cotton.
“A lot of people were finding that they weren’t getting the satisfaction they wanted from the mass market, high street products. It’s all just cheap and nasty foams and gels out of aerosol cans, full of chemicals and propellants and razors with 3, 4, 5 or 17 blades with cartridges that you need to take a mortgage out on to be able to afford.
“Whether it’s in architecture or fashion or cuisine, there’s a desire now to rediscover a bygone era, to look at how things were done in the old days. We cater for that desire in male grooming.”
Though rising rates recently forced a move from Carter and Bond’s Royal Oak home to its current location, the new shop retains the charming decor that helped make Carter and Bond so dear to its loyal customers. Model Airfix planes litter the barber’s showroom, piles of Commando comics are stacked in every corner and tin robots gaze at you from atop glass-fronted, brush and blade-filled cabinets.
It’s a unique spin on the traditional grooming emporium, but Carter and Bond’s skilled barber Mustafa’s cut and shave work is as solid as it comes. Specialising in styles from the 1950s and 1960s, a cut at Carter and Bond is a friendly, warm and carefully considered affair, while the 30-45 minute full facial and hot-towel shave is the ultimate in men’s pampering.
Carter and Bond take their niche online too, offering the same range of classic grooming products through their long-serving website. Brands like Agua de Colonia, Baxter of California, Czech & Speake, D R Harris, Dovo of Solingen, Floris, Geo F Trumper, HeadBlade, Marvis, Merkur, Musgo Real, Pashana, Prorasoand and Truefitt & Hill can also be purchased through the Carter and Bond online store.
“As the male grooming boom took off in the mid 2000s, there were lots of bandwagon brands popping up,” explains Cotton.
“Most of them didn’t last for ten minutes. So I became cynical and skeptical about these brands and became a lot more confident in the brands that have been around for decades or hundreds of years, particularly old English brands and their equivalents in other countries.
“Because these brands are quite niche and not widely available, we find our customers are very loyal.”
In a world of flash-in-the-pan fashions and trends, Carter and Bond’s classic take on grooming style looks set to stand the test of time.
“Both online and offline, we’re in a minority,” says Cotton.
“We’ve got our speciality; there’s not many people that do what we do, and the way that we do it, and I think our customers like and appreciate that.”
The Carter and Bond barber shop can be found at 15-17 Baseline Studios, Whitchurch Road, London, W11 4AT. Open Monday to Friday and Sunday, the shave and cut services are available Wednesdays and Sundays. While you can turn usually turn up without an appointment, you’re encouraged to book roughly a week in advance, especially for Sunday sessions.
A wash and cut costs £22, a standard shave costs £27, while the full facial and shave costs £35. Double deals for cuts and shaves are also available.
For more info, click here.
By Gerald Lynch | July 23rd, 2012