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Olly RBX London
Photo: Orlando Gili / RBX LDN

‘The chats I’ve had with people, just letting everything out’

London’s hair salons reopened and we were there to capture it

By Joe Mackertich
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It’s been a long haul for London’s barbers and hairdressers. Shut for months, they now have to deal with the fallout of DIY cuts and home bleach jobs. Plus the government advised them to ‘avoid lengthy treatments’ when they reopened, a suggestion that could only have come from people with Matt Hancock’s barnet.

But as they finally got cutting and styling again, photographer Orlando Gili was on hand, visiting seven London salons in the week after April 12. ‘Walking into the salons I was instantly hit by human voices overlapping with the humming of machines,’ he says. ‘Joy and relief were etched on all the customers’ faces.’ Oh, we hear you. 

‘My trip to the barbershop is closely tied to my Afro-Caribbean identity,’ says Olly in the main image above. ‘It’s not something I can recreate at  home with a pair of clippers.’

 Orlando Gili’s ‘Trivial Pursuits’ is published by Hoxton Mini Press.

Olly RBX London
Photo: Orlando Gili/ Faye, Bucks Barbers

‘It’s the most exhilarating feeling because I’ve waited so long, I feel back to myself again. You lose half of you with this job because it’s all about talking, socialising, making someone look good. The amount of men that have come in all hunched over, I’ve just been transforming them. For a lot of guys it’s their only pamper. Just to talk to someone and interact when they’ve been sitting at home at their desk on their own, they might not have a partner or any housemates. The chats I’ve had with people, just letting out everything.’

Faye, Bucks Barbers

Me'Lange
Photo: Orlando GiliMe'Lange Salon
Rokit Barber
Photo: Orlando Gili/ Rokit Barber

'A good 80 percent of customers are regular: we’ve had lovely residential support from the community. We’ve had a lot of restyling and people changing their look after being forced to let it grow for three months.'

Roberto, Rocket

Slider Cuts
Photo: Orlando Gili/ Slider Cuts

‘It’s nice having a proper haircut again. It’s like a new pair of shoes: you feel dead good.’

Henry, Slider Cuts

Jack The Clipper
Photo: Orlando Gili/ Jack The Clipper
Off Cut
Photo: Orlando Gili/ Off Cut

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