British Barber Association style director Chris Foster taps into the traditions of Savile Row tailors to turn out bespoke cuts for the modern man.
The streets of London are paved with rich history, much of it related to the profitable trades developed and honed by craftsmen and craftswomen over the centuries. Threading through this creative and industrious network of roads is Savile Row, suitably dubbed the “golden mile of tailoring.” “Savile Row is synonymous with ‘bespoke tailoring’,” says Chris Foster, style director at The British Barbers Association (BBA). “Bespoke clothing is traditionally cut from a pattern drafted from scratch for the customer.” This is the concept that Foster sought to convey with the BBA’s Kings Row Collection. “It’s about the ability to tailor a haircut in such a way that it’s drafted for the client from scratch, to give him the perfect fit,” he explains. Out with the idea of “mass-produced” fad haircuts and grooming: Kings Row celebrates the individual and all of the details a barber can employ to tailor a cut to fi t the wearer, and the wearer alone.
This is not a collection just “of the moment,” Foster stresses, adding, “Bespoke styling for men has and always will be important.” Indeed, barbering itself was never intended to bow to passing trends; the priority of this time-honored trade is to provide the look to fit the man: his unique physical features, personal taste and lifestyle. “Instead of fashion trends, the BBA sees suitability for the client as the defining factor of style in 2017,” Foster affirms. To that end, Kings Row, which is broken up into three sub-collections—Huntsman, Ripley and Squadron—is a nod to elevated craftsmanship for the pro and timeless, tailored style for the client. The looks, Foster notes, are “both commercial and wearable, which I feel will resonate with any man who lays eyes on the collection.”
"The Huntsman Collection represents clean masculine lines with a play on texture,” says Foster. Here, he cut using a feather razor which “gives a sporadic feel of texture within the hair.” Bulk removal techniques through the sides produced a more masculine silhouette.
Foster used a solid clipperover-comb technique through the sides and lower parts of the head, while maintaining length through the top. “I embellished the simplicity of the cuts in the Huntsman using traditional dressing techniques,” he says. After applying a liberal amount of BBA Finishing Pomade through slightly damp hair, he drew a clean part then sculpted the classic shape.
"The Ripley Collection represents a softer playfulness to men’s hair,” Foster says. A scissor-over-comb technique allowed him to shorten up the back and sides. For the sub-collection’s desired softness, he employed a razor-over-comb technique through the transitional zones. Finally, Foster deeply point-cut the hair at the top of the head, encouraging increased texture and movement.
For the Ripley man, casual styling highlights natural movement in the hair. To style this cut, which involved a razor technique and point-cutting method, Foster blow-dried hair using a Denman Brush and a small amount of BBA Moulding Cream to increase workability. Once the hair dried, he layered on more BBA Moulding Cream for a soft yet exact finish.
“The Squadron Collection represents the strength of conformed individual styling,” Foster states. To emphasize this striking silhouette, achieved using what he calls a “two up from target” method, the barber and stylist distributed a liberal amount of BBA Texture Clay through finger-dried hair to reinforce the haircut’s newly formed texture.
This flawless fade, created using a crossfade method, features a razor part that follows the distinct curvature of the head—a highly personalized detail. To accentuate the closely clipped style, Foster sprayed on water and then applied BBA Finishing Pomade using this precise method: “Roll the product onto the head with the palms of your hands using a circular motion, clockwise and anticlockwise, until a curl formation is created,” he says.
Photography: Barry Jeffery; Hair: Chris Foster; Makeup: Carina Pennant; Wardrobe: Selom Amoa