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The rebirth of an ancient art: Barberino’s lesson

Transforming the barber’s chair into a wellness experience: this is the mission of Barberino’s, a chain of Made in Italy barber shops. The company has successfully combined tradition and innovation to revolutionise the world of men’s beauty.

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The first barbers appeared in Ancient Rome. They were called ‘tonsores,’ and their services were mainly reserved for the higher social classes since sitting at the barber’s was an important rite, an initiation ceremony even, that sanctioned young men’s entry into adulthood. Michele Callegari and Niccolò Bencini, founders of Barberino’s chain of Made in Italy barber shops launched in 2015, must have been inspired by this ancient idea. Barberino’s, rooted in the ancient Italian tradition, just landed in Manhattan.

An emigrant grandfather, a role model

The idea came to Callegari, who drew inspiration from the story of his great-grandfather Giovanni. In 1910, the twenty-year-old Giovanni left Lugagnano in the province of Piacenza to land in Boston, where he worked as a barber for ten years, becoming to everyone the “Barberino” (the little barber), given his young age.

Helping every man feel handsome

The start-up is a successful mix of tradition and innovation because the idea behind Barberino’s is to revolutionise the world of men’s beauty care in the wake of the grooming salons that are enjoying so much success in the Anglo-Saxon world. If, until recently, male beauty care was a neglected topic, not to say a taboo, this is no longer the case. ‘Helping every man feel handsome and well’ is Barberino’s mission, and that fills a ‘market hole’ in our country.

“We went back to the peculiarities, the format, the materials typical of tradition, and we used them to define a concept that is both classic and contemporary at the same time. We wanted to give new life to the barber shop of yesteryear with a company’s managerial skills and scalability”, tells Fortune Italia Callegari, who studied in the UK but also went to Sicily to learn the secrets of the most famous barbers.

A wellness experience

Thus, the barber’s session becomes a wellness experience, which starts when booking the service—thanks to a customisation app that even allows you to choose how you want to be called, whether to keep your mobile phone or opt for religious silence and digital detox by leaving it in a special box—and continues afterwards, thanks, for example, to capsule collections of specific products.

A growing company

Today, Barberino’s has 18 shops in Italy, including ten in Milan and a number of salons in other cities such as Rome, Turin and Bologna. Nothing is left to chance. The refined décor, in both furniture and colours, is inspired by the atmosphere of the old Italian barber shops of the last century. Fifty enthusiastic young people who share the company’s mission and who have taken Giovanni Callegari’s lesson in skills and hospitality on board make up the team.

Congratulations to those who bring the tradition of Italian know-how to the world through innovation.