Happy New Year Wet Shavers!
The wet shaving industry has proved it is extremely resilient during the pandemic and as we enter 2022, it’s now harder than ever to predict how the year may end. With product delays, to increased costs, to new innovation, the wet shaving world has encountered it all in the past two years. From what we thought we were only a few months of inconvenience and concern, has now turned into a new way of life.
In 2020, we saw the world shut down and stop production, and in 2021 we saw how shutdowns affect the supply chain. We saw value skyrocket for certain items, especially high-end hardware and a ton of new items introduced to the wet shaving industry.
So what will 2022 bring? This is definitely the hardest year I’ve had in making a prediction, so here it goes!
Price Increases for Software
The pandemic has caused supply chain disruptions for virtually every industry in the world. Although much of the pricing was not affected in 2020 to 2021, the delay in raw materials has finally caught up to the consumer. Many businesses were shut down for several months during the start of the pandemic, and virtually no raw materials (scent oils, soap bases,perfumers alcohol etc.) were being made or shipped. Combine that with the shipping crisis of 2021 (lack of truck drivers and ship congestion at ports, you have a recipe for increased prices.
With overall costs increasing for the average artisan, expect to pay more at the point of sale for some of your favorite items. Most artisans are doing everything they can to avoid excessive costs and keep their prices as close to normal as possible.
Although prices will be higher there are still ways you can save some money:
- Buy in Bulk: Most vendors offer free shipping with a certain amount spent. You can save some serious cash by just making a larger order. *Hint, if you have some wet shaving friends locally, you guys can make one big order and meet up to distribute.
- Take Advantage of Sales/Coupons: Although non-existent a few years ago we saw many vendors offering promotions over the holiday season. Take advantage when you can!
The pandemic has taken its toll on many small businesses around the world, and wet shaving has been affected. With the shut downs of 2020, supply chain disruptions of 2021, and increased cost for raw materials, it’s become extremely difficult for some to keep operating at the same pre-pandemic level.
Although last year we saw several new vendors enter the market, we saw more leave. Just recently a long-time vendor (Kshaveworx) decided to leave the industry to spend more time on their day jobs.
I would expect to see a similar trend here in 2022 with more small vendors calling it quits. Although I’m not a fan of reporting news like this, unfortunately it has become a reality. Part-time vendors will be the most affected, and I don’t see any full time or larger scale vendors leaving anytime soon so there is some good news.
Availability of Shave Brush Knots
We’ve seen massive delays with items shipping from Asia. Almost every vendor I’ve spoken to in the past year has suffered delays with shaving knots. With most if not all the badger hair coming from China I would expect these delays to continue until the supply chain evens out.
I spoke with one of the vendors I use for badger hair knots and also told me the overall quality of the knots purchased have been lesser than normal. Brushmakers that usually wait 30-60 days for knots are now waiting 3-6 months.
As a result, we’ve seen major price increases on custom brushes, some over 20% in the past year. As the popularity of “hand-tied” in house shave knots increases, we can only expect more brush makers to follow suit. Expect to pay around $350-$400 for a custom hand tied brush.
On a lighter note, 2021 brought new innovation to the wet shaving world. The increased time at home/office has the wheels turning in the minds of some of the great artisans we have today.
In 2021, we saw several debuts of new razors, some of which had been in the making for some time ( Rex, Stirling, Charcoal Goods, Mag T) and some with different concepts not yet seen in the wet shaving world.
From speaking to several artisans, 2022 looks very promising for innovative products in wet shaving. Expect to see several new razors emerge this year (mostly double edge) and a few Single Edge designs from companies such as Wolfman, Charcoal Goods, Mag T, Rex and several others.
Items that have Shown Increased Interest
The Toggle has shown a massive increase in value over the past year and I doubt we’ll see any drops in the near future. It’s considered to be the ‘grail” razor for many collectors and with everything going on many people decided to take the plunge and get one.
Thousands of Toggles were made by Gillette from 1957-1960 and there is still a decent amount out there so if you have one on your radar there’s still time. Several companies have attempted to make a clone of the same style, but none quite like the original.
Expect to pay about $300-$500 for a D4 or F4 (1958,1960) toggle* in good shape which is up about 40% from pre-pandemic prices. Toggles are complicated to repair, so if yours does need service this could add $100-$200 to your investment
*The rarer versions of the Toggle value is undetermined because we did not see many leave the hands of collectors.
Non-Gillette Vintage Razors
It seems that collectors are finally seeing the light: That there’s more to vintage wet shaving than Gillette. 2021 saw some serious interest in non-Gillette vintage razors. Many of these razors were never distributed to the USA, so they are not very well known. Most shave well, maybe even better than their Gillette counterparts, and many can still be had at a bargain.
Be quick with pulling the trigger if you see that “Buy It Now” window pop-up on some notable pieces and start doing your homework before you miss out! Douglas Symthe from PAA has been supporting these razors for years and currently has several razors inspired by the design of vintage non-Gillettes.
I would say it’s a safe bet to see these harder to find razors increase their value this year, up to 20% from 2021. Notable modes to look out for: Apollo Mikron, Gibbs Adjustable, Persona, Wilkinson Sword, Kirby)
High End Adjustable Razors
The need for a high-end adjustable razor has been quite the demand for the past year, and from the looks of it 2022 shows no sign of slowing. We saw Rockwell Model T 2 emerge, as well as record sell out rates for the Rochnel Sailor (2021 & 2022). Wet Shavers all over are fascinated with the adjustability factor of these well built tools, much like they did in the 1960s. The difference, today’s razors are built in smaller production lots with the use of cnc machining rather than large factories forging each part.
While these razors fetch a premium at checkout, they are built to perform and last a lifetime. Expect to see a few more razors enter the market and be quick on the buy it now button if you see one that you like.
Merkur Vision 2000
There’s a reason why I didn’t mention this razor in the high-end adjustable portion because this razor is so hot it deserves it’s own portion. The Merkur Vision is a twist to open (TTO) adjustable safety razor, with butterfly doors and can be completely disassembled. It was one of the largest safety razors ever made and even had a matching shave brush. Introduced in 1998 as the Vision and then the Vision 2000 in, you guessed it 2000 this razor remained the only TTO adjustable safety razor in production until it was discontinued in 2014.
Today, the Vision and Vision 2000 are going for a massive premium and are hotter than ever, and getting your hands on one is going to cost you.
Expect to pay $350-$500 for one if you can find it. Otherwise you can settle for the Vision’s little brother the Futur which is still in production and priced well under $100.
Items that Have Shown A Decrease in Interest
High End Software
The need to have the rarest, or most expensive software (such as soap and aftershave) has slowed down enough to be mentioned here, for the second year in a row. The latest releases have been more available, so there’s a better chance you can get your hands on the latest set.
A few years ago it was common to flip a rare shave soap or set for 3-5 times what you paid for almost instantly. Today, expect to get retail or 10% less than retail when selling.
Applying a pre-shave product was very common when traditional wet shaving made a resurgence back in the late 1990s, but has since taken a backseat. Companies such as Art of Shaving relied on pre-shave products as part of their shaving regimen , and a lot of guys thought that was the only way. Truth is, pre-shave products are ( in my opinion) not necessary for wet shaving, but can enhance the experience.
If you’re a fan of pre-shave products there’s no need to panic. There are plenty of them out there, and you can even make your own!
Although the last two years have changed virtually every business out there, it’s safe to say that traditional wet shaving is here to stay. I think the “new normal” has established itself and there’s alot to look forward to in 2022. To sum it all up: Be ready to see some more innovation, such as new products/concepts and expect to pay a little more for your favorite products. Be mindful of shipping delays and above all, have fun!