My recent post about the 10th anniversary of my first wet shaving video on Youtube got me to thinking about the traditional wet shaving niche and how it has evolved. Here are what I think are seven “watershed” moments.
1. The Art Of Shaving Launches, 1996
Founded in 1996, I think The Art of Shaving started to hit it’s stride around 2000. Early-on their product ingredients were “cut from the same clothe” as the traditional British shaving brands (“the three T’s”). Proctor and Gamble purchased the company in 2009 for a reported $60 million. In 2011 many of the products (particularly the shaving soaps) were reformulated.
2. Van Der Hagen Launches, 2001
Although Van Der Hagen started in 2001 they took a slow, measured, organic approach to growth. That policy paid off and now they are practically ubiquitous in the United States. I think that from about 2010 onward has been their best time. Van Der Hagen was recently sold to Universal Beauty who has big plans to expand the Van Der Hagen line even more over the coming year.
3. Shave My Face Forum Launches, 2004
There were a few wet shaving discussion forums in the late ’90’s but they were always hosted on other platforms. Shave My Face was the first self-hosted discussion forum devoted to traditional wet shaving–followed closely by Straight Razor Place in 2005. Virtually all the current wet shaving forums can trace their lineage to these two sites.
4. The Today Show, 2005
The old school shaving niche’ got a huge boost in 2005 when Technology Editor (and wet shaving enthusiast) Corey Greenberg presented the topic on the weekend Today show. Shaving vendors reported selling a year’s worth of inventory in the month after the segment. Although Greenberg has moved on to other things, the effect of this presentation as a watershed moment cannot be over-stated.
5. Gillette Fusion Launched, 2006
I think the launch of the Gillette Fusion razor in early 2006 was actually a good thing for the “old school” shaving niche’. The “razor blade wars” seemed to reach the point where many consumers finally noticed that the number of blades in a cartridge–and it’s cost–may have diminishing returns, questioning the technology and researching alternatives. Follow-up engineering tweaks and changes only served to highlight the perception that maybe it was best for the consumer to take a step back….
6. Proraso At Target, 2006
Target seems to have a soft spot for traditional wet shaving. Back in 2006 they started carrying Proraso shaving products, causing a major buzz in the traditional wet shaving community: here was one of the favorite “classic” product lines in a major “brick-and-mortar” franchise! The Proraso stock ran its course about a year later, much to the dismay of enthusiasts, but Target seems to have kept a soft spot for shavers by being one of the first to carry the upgraded Van Der Hagen products, offering alternative products like Pacific Shaving’s Caffeinated shaving cream, and most recently starting to carry the Bevel line of shaving hardware and software.
7. How To Shave Like Your Grandpa, Art Of Manliness, 2008
This article on the Art of Manliness website has accumulated well over 25,000 social media shares since it was written in 2008. It is not only responsible for bringing thousands of shavers into the “old school” fold, but it continues to be one of the most popular articles on the AOM site (in fact AOM founder Brett McKay tells me it was one of the first “hits” the site had).
What do you think are the “watershed” events in wet shaving? Leave a comment below….