In a decrepit basketball court at some obscure village, a little boy is plopped on a makeshift high chair, getting his haircut. Some guys had set up shop with a pop-up barbershop and foldable tables for booths selling local organic pomade and statement shirts. This was Coast 2 Coast, and the Slick Barbers were in session, a group of new-generation barbers that proved fancy haircuts didn’t really need a fancy place. It was the kind of event that was inconspicuous yet relevant to a growing wave of clients who quickly embraced the art of pompadour hairstyles and parting lines, the stuff of gentlemen’s style guides and classic rock posters. Mak Azores, the leader of the pack, had been only on the scene for a few months, yet the movement that he espoused quickly caught on and was popping up here and there, at hole-in-the-walls and unsuspecting streets with dates unknown, with the most fervent of followers anticipating the precarious details that would only surface in little time.
That was two years ago. Now, Mak and his partner, Ez Abilan have left their nomadic methods, moved their cutting gears from the streets and have settled nicely in a shop called Heavyhands Barbershop along Mendiola, Manila. It’s definitely not your grandfather’s barbershop — don’t expect white-clad barbers spinning wild tales as they pummel your back with a hard rub, but the slick hairdos the customers walk out with he would definitely approve of. They’re polished and timeless, fitting in with either spiffed up men in business suits, or edgier styles, much like the underground scene Mak used to be part of.
Unlike the times of yore when customers would have to battle for limited slots in their pop-up events, clients now only have to book online at a reservation portal set up for Heavyhands.
It’s safe to say that Heavyhands has developed quite of a cult following, with a steady stream of clients coming from different backgrounds and places travelling to the heart of Manila, just to be able to experience what the kind of cuts that Heavyhands pride themselves on: with quality and dignity.
A photo posted by HEAVYHANDS Barbershop (@heavyhandsbarbershop) on
A few years ago when they had burst on to the scene, Mak told me that he was hoping for the best when it came to barbering, and that he was hoping that it would not just be a fad. It seems that they’ve kept themselves steady and interesting all this time. Not bad from someone who used to come from the streets.