JA’s Razor Club covers it all – from hair to nails to shoe shines.
Published By Tony Bravo, San Francisco Chronicle
John Allan’s commitment to perfecting the full-service grooming experience began when he opened his first New York Club in 1988.
“My dad and I built that club ourselves. I finished construction Saturday night, and Monday morning we were open with no time between. … A guy came in and just wanted a haircut. I explained to him that at my club it wasn’t just about a haircut, it’s the complete package: the nails, the skin, leaving the club with your shoes shined. When a man leaves a John Allan Club, I want him to reflect those values, my values. He kept arguing for just the haircut and I turned him away, even though my stylists thought I was crazy. Eventually, they got it.”
With four New York locations (downtown, Midtown, Tribeca and in Saks Fifth Avenue) and clubs in Chicago, Toronto and now San Francisco and at Saks Fifth Avenue Beverly Hills, many more fans are jumping on the head-to-toe grooming train.
The San Francisco JA’s Razor Club, which opened in March on the second floor of the John Varvatos boutique on Geary Street, is a pared-down version of his other clubs, which feature club chairs, pool tables and other amenities. But the full-service treatment remains the same: Members pay an annual fee for unlimited access to services at all Razor Club locations. A one-time full-service option is available for $85 and includes a skin care and facial massage, beard trim, haircut, manicure and shoe shine. Pedicures and full-shave service are on the way.
“Something happens when a man discovers a pedicure,” he said during a recent visit to San Francisco. “Once they’ve experienced it, they never go back.”
Trained in Paris under salon magnate Jean Louis David, the New Jersey-born Allan initially worked on the women’s side of the industry before seeing the need for a more personalized men’s experience in the 1980s. The biggest change he’s seen in the men’s industry in the past 20 years has been the expanded vocabulary men have developed when it comes to their personal grooming regimens. It’s an awareness he appreciates in his members, but he worries that men may be struggling to keep up as the industry perpetually shifts and styles change at an ever more rapid pace.
A membership program allows men to make forays into types of grooming they may not yet know about or be comfortable exploring, he said. And he’s noticed the level of discourse go up as members find their footing.
“When you walk into my clubs and hear one of my guys say, ‘Have you ever had Victoria do your nails? She’s incredible.’ I’m so proud. The men are talking about grooming, they’re talking about fashion, they’re so relaxed that they can have these conversations. No one is there to preach to them and judge them. It’s giving them the confidence in a world they weren’t used to.
“Women have known about the social experience of the salon for years: My clubs bring that to the men.”
When asked about future locations, Allan says that eventually the goal is to return to Paris where he learned his craft.
“To have a Razor Club in Paris done my way, in my style, is the dream. If I can win them over here, I may be an American in Paris, but I’ll have the confidence to do it. My tagline has always been: ‘Most men think they’re fine the way they are. My job is to take them a little further.’ “
JA’s Razor Club at Varvatos: 152 Geary St., 2nd floor, S.F. (415) 398-2707.
Tony Bravo is a San Francisco freelance writer. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
original article can be view @ San Francisco Chronicle: http://www.sfgate.com/style/article/JA-s-Razor-Club-gets-manly-for-grooming-4614903.php