Although initially not sure what to expect from the term hair clubbing when it was first introduced, after stopping by Blade Hairclub for a full explanation and demonstration, I can only say I’m happy to say I’m a convert – Blade is recrafting people’s ideas of what it is to get your hair done one crisp cut and delicious drink at a time. Born out of a desire to create a happy, unpretentious and above all welcoming place where visitors could get their hair done but also generally hang out, the boutique space in the heart of Soho on Frith street may be unassuming on the outside but hides a whole host of fantastic discoveries within.
The fun, welcoming team of senior hairstylists is led by co-founder Julia Olofsson who wanted to offer something more social than the clinical approach of high street hair salons. Together with her partner D.T Stroo, she began Blade, an ideal place for a moment of pampering or the natural starting point for a more energised night out, why couldn’t getting a haircut be as relaxed and entertaining as the social occasion itself? Julia and Stroo have certainly shown it can.
As I walk in I’m greeted by the smells of fresh Ethiopian arabica coffee and some classic funk being played from the vinyl record player which just happens to be attached to the wall. The atmosphere is relaxed and chatty and I’m reminded of the local barber shops that often get shown in films, except this has an authentic, London feel that is all central Soho. As my stylist is just finishing with another client I walk down a narrow staircase classic of this part of town and into the bar and hair washing area below. Here, I catch up with D.T Stroo, a musician turned-entrepreneur who talks me through their drinks list – starting with Four Roses bourbon.
From the start, his passion and enthusiasm is infectious, he explains how he goes out regularly to the USA and Scotland to source new and interesting whiskies, gins and bourbons but Four Roses is his definitely favourite. He talks me through his chats with Brent, the cellar master over a flight of their standard, single barrel and their finest selection of small batch options, even pointing out a few of his favourite barrel codes (they’re marked on the front of each bottle and he makes a note each time he finds a favourite so he can hunt down more). Paired with this impromptu whisky flight is a delicious range of raw chocolates, I’m advised to try the cherry and chilli, and it’s a great tip, the heat of the chilli making a great pairing with the heat of the bourbon.
But now Simone is here and it’s time to get down to the other side of my visit. After a welcoming consultation and initial wash, Simone talks me through my cut and styling options with charming Italian flair. Shortly after, Julia comes down to chat pointing out some of the memorable details of their old dairy building which include the original shop windows in the basement which would have led out onto street level and the drums Stroo used when recording his last album in the basement as well.
Consultation over and with my new cut underway, I have the option of checking out the Netflix on my personal iPad, but instead I opt to chat more with Stroo about his other favourite picks from the drinks list. Their wine is entirely biodynamic, an excellent range but Stroo points me to their range of beers. Harviestoun is a smallscale brewery up near Stirling who have created some fantastic craft beers. At 5%, Blade’s tailormade brew risks leaving me unproductive for the rest of the afternoon so I opt instead for their Schiehallion, a delicious larger that’s light, not too bubbly, yet full of flavour.
With the cut sorted, Simone and I talk through blow dry options, as I’m heading for dinner with a friend I opt for a loose curl look and the blow drying begins which gives Stroo just enough time to set me up with one of Blade’s signature cocktails – the list is impressive with a range of gin and of course bourbon cocktails but he opts instead to make me the Matcha Martini, a blend of chartreuse, triple sec, vodka and ceremonial grade matcha. Served with fresh orange juice it’s zesty with fresh green notes from the matcha and chartreuse, it’s something completely unique and packs an energising punch. By this time Simone has finished his final finishing touches. As he sends me out and on my way from Blade, I’ve got a newfound spring in my step, a new appreciation for matcha green tea, four roses’ range and a new haircut that even now has me planning my next return trip.