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The state of your hair

Australia’s best and most experienced barbers talking about the hairstyles that are most popular

Illustration: Matt Roden

Across Australia, men are experimenting with their hair more than ever before. We spoke to some of Australia’s best and most experienced barbers about the hairstyles that are most popular or at least most reflective of what’s happening hair-wise in their towns, and asked for some tips on how to achieve the look.

The State of your hair

Queensland: Jules Tognini

‘The 60s Shag’

Jules Tognini is a respected hairdresser (of both men and women) who works from his own salon, Tognini’s Hair, in Brisbane, Queensland. He’s been at it for approximately eight and half years, and during that time has learnt a lot about cutting men’s hair. He believes that guys are starting to “dance to their own rhythm,” hair-wise, and that men should have a haircut that reflects their lifestyle.

The quintessential modern Queensland man’s haircut, he believes, is the 60s Shag. “It’s very Rolling Stones in the 1960s and ‘70s,” he shares, “and some guys even have the shaggy full fringe. Guys are starting to reject the short back and sides and tight fades in Queensland. They’re looking for a bit more of a relaxed hairstyle.” Jules recommends moveable hold putties, texture sprays and powders, as well flexible putties, for his hairstyle. It’s a quick and easy hairstyle that should just take a few minutes to prep in the morning. His steps? Run the product through when it’s wet. Mix into your hand first then work from middle to ends with the product, raking it through the hair. Once it dries you can play with it again. Scrunch it and push it around so it falls in that position.

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New South Wales: Paul Anthony

‘The Modern Pompadour’

Paul Anthony is a celebrated men’s barber in Sydney, New South Wales, who has been in business here since 2013, after training and working in London.  He believes the key to a good haircut is taking into consideration the shape of head, including the side profile. “A good cut on the wrong head is a bad haircut,” he says.

He recommends ‘the Modern Pompadour’ — a modern version of James Dean’s iconic hairstyle, almost rockabilly. It’s clean and lean on the sides, with the length depending on the man’s face. He suggests a one or two blade at the sides, keeping it really crisp around the edges, while leaving at least three inches on top. He likes the versatility of his hairstyle, and likes to leave more length on top so that guys can play with the look and texture. Men can wear it big and textured on top on the weekend, or sleeker and flatter during the week. For heavier hair, he recommends a product that’s flexible or has a strong hold. It’s good if you put it into wet hair and let it dry before playing with it again. A matte paste will give a more natural, textured look, where as a pomade is great for a sleek, well-groomed look.  If you’re going for the latter, dry your hair with a paddle brush for nice and smooth look. Really pull it back and stretch any wave out. When it’s bone dry, put your pomade in and slick down any fly-aways.

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Victoria: Sam Fordyce

‘Modern Business Cut’

Sam Fordyce works at Captains of Industry in Melbourne, Victoria. He’s been working as a barber for twelve years, estimating that about 80% of the hair he’s cut has belonged to the scalps of men. “There’s no one-size-fits-all haircut,” he shares. “It’s all about versatility.”

And so he recommends what he calls a ‘modern yet classic versatile business cut’ — a style for all occasions, from work to weekend. “In Melbourne at the moment, we’re still doing clean back and sides, but having more fun and freedom with the top,” he shares. “It’s about really classic square cuts with a modern twist. We use tapered sides and a square shape so it gives the client’s a face a nice narrow, clean look. There’s more height on the top, and it’s often worn with beards. We want natural texture through the top — accentuating any wave in the top using products, without doing too much work. The key to what I like to do is to give clients a few options with the haircut. We don’t want it to have to be combed perfectly to work. It should have a good shape if it is up, pushed across or forward. Somewhere in between that classic Brit mod look and the more classic pompadour.” Sam is using a lot of matte clays at the moment. They’re easy to style with, and you can work with them in more ways. You can slick the hair back, or if you’ve got texture you can maintain that more natural look. “It’s been fairly polished for the past couple of years,” he says. “Now we’re going for a bit more of a natural look.” It should take less than five minutes to style.

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South Australia: James Graham

‘English Lad’s Style’

James Graham of Boy’s Club Barber Shop in Adelaide, South Australia, has been in the business for twelve years, although he opened his salon in 2012. It’s a pretty unique space, in that it’s designed to be akin to your mate’s lounge room. Clients walk in, grab a beer out of the fridge, sit on the couch, and watch sports or movies while they wait. Although he’s a precise barber, he says the environment is relaxed and not at all ‘pampoured’. His clients are looking for versatility — a cut that translates from boardroom to the sports field.

He recommends what he calls ‘the modern English lad’s style’. “It’s a throwback to the ‘90s football hooligan,” he shares. “We keep it shorter through the back and sides but then the top is blended, with a slight disconnection around the front hairline where we’re leaving that extra length through fringe.” It’s a look that works best with texture on top, delivered with a cream-based wax or paste for a matte, dry-look finish. One can leave the fringe weighted down at the front, or quiffed up. “It should take ten seconds in the morning, and the only difference between looks is whether you push the fringe back or forward.”

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Western Australia: James Howe

‘Short back and sides, messy on top’

James Howe of Weston's Barbershop and Shave Parlour in Perth, Western Australia, is originally from London and opened his barbershop down under about two years ago. He believes the key to a good cut is attention to detail. “Being so short, you have to be on point with everything. There’s no room for error. Especially with the fade that has come back in. If it’s not on point, it wouldn’t be as flattering to the face shape. Attention to detail is the key.”

He is seeing the short back and sides get a more casual, messy-on-top upgrade lately. “It’s low maintenance but stylish. We keep it faded around the sides often, while on top it’s longer and messier. It’s a less clean cut look. It’s for guys who are wanting to change it up after having that harsh fade, but still want that fade effect, so it’s not too short at the sides. It’s a little less maintenance than the skin fades which grow out quickly. It’s a bit more practical, in that sense.” To achieve the cut, he leaves three to five inches on top, which is long enough that it can be flattened during the week or spiked up or messed up on the weekend. The key, he says, is to keep it longer towards the front and shorter towards the back, so that it’s sloped backward if spiked directly up. He recommends using dry clays and powders over wet pomades, and says it should just take 10-15 minutes to mess it up nicely.

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