BY JENNA KASHOU | PHOTOS BY DAVID SZYMANSKI
For more than a century, the barbershop has been a community oasis where people gather to connect, clean up and swap stories. Three local shops, Stag Barbershop (3064 S. Delaware Ave.), The Nobleman (6831 W. North Ave., Wauwatosa) and Gent’s Classic Barbershop (N88 W16758 Main St., Menomonee Falls) recreate that timeless tradition by honoring the craft of barbering and creating a welcoming place where men can go to look and feel good. Where smart phones give way to lively conversation, and the art of proper grooming goes well beyond a haircut.
<< Stag Barbershop
Stag Barbershop opened in 2010 and was one of the first local spots to reinvent the classic barbershop for the modern man. Jess Stern is the brain behind the Bay View shop that oozes unapologetic masculinity. Red, white and blue barber’s poles spin dutifully, and the scent of talc and bay rum tickle your nose when you step inside. Clean white subway tiles, detailed woodwork and taxidermy, as well as hides and horns, decorate the split space.
The barbers bring the same level of detail to their clients, who are invited to grab a cold Pabst Blue Ribbon, saddle up in one of the ornte, vintage barber chairs, and enjoy a cut, shave or beard trim. There’s even a bootblack on duty to shine shoes. “There’s a mutual respect between the barbershops in our community,” says Stern. “We look to other shops for inspiration, not as competition. We all have the same goal; we want our customers to walk out looking and feeling their best.” 3064 S. Delaware Ave., Milwaukee, (414) 489-7824
Gent’s Classic Barbershop >>
The vibe at Gent’s Classic Barbershop in Menomonee Falls screams classic, old school barbershop. Opened in 2015, Gent’s has a constant stream of men waiting for a cut, bantering and recounting the highs and lows of the last Packers or Brewers game. The advice you receive from the crowd (whether you want it or not) is part of the experience.
Owner Nick Papageorgio’s interest in barbering came, in part, from visits to the barbershop with his father when he was young. For this reason, he created the “Dads and Lads Outing” special for men to bring their sons or grandsons to the shop to learn about proper grooming. Gent’s also offers a discount for men over 60 and veterans, as well as a photo “wall of fame” for WWII Veterans and classic style icons like James Dean, The Rat Pack and Muhammad Ali. Papageorgio is joined by a multigenerational duo of barbers. Richard “Dick” Bozek, 75, has been barbering for six decades and makes special Saturday appearances to show off his craft. Thirtysomething Will Petersen, an Iowa transplant, left the environmental industry to take up barbering. N88W16758 Main St., Menomonee Falls, (262) 293-9841
<< The Nobleman
Nikki Schneider and Samuel Zielinski opened The Nobleman on Wauwatosa’s busy corner of 68th Street and North Avenue almost three years ago. The rustic barn wood and Crea City brick interior feels warm and inviting, and the steel table in the center of the room invites conversation and collaboration among the six barbers and their clients. “There has always been an interest for men-specific places, but there wasn’t a place to go to get a full experience,” says Schneider. Though the bulk of The Nobleman’s clients are men, women and children are welcome too, and the staff makes everyone feel welcome with special extras like complimentary consults, hot towel treatments and styling lessons to keep cuts looking good.
Rolan Fernandez is The Nobleman’s go-to barber for hair artistry and fresh fades. “The mentality of people is shifting,” he says. “They are more open to show who they are through their hair. I like to encourage people to explore a little more. At the end of the day it’s only hair, but you’re going to feel better when it looks good.”
Fernandez tests out new styles he dreams up on his nine-year-old son, Phoenix, who isn’t a fan of holding still for the cuts. Dad recently won his cooperation by crafting a Star Wars symbol on the side of his boy’s head. “Sometimes I draw things I’d like to see or I go to Instagram for inspiration,” Fernandez admits, adding that medium-length hair with texture and volume is a current popular trend he appreciates. 6831 W. North Ave., Wauwatosa, (414) 210-5667 MKE