An institutional event on the men’s grooming calendar, American Crew put just the right amount of creativity and culture and spun it into a globally recognised authority in men’s hair – the 2018 National All Star Challenge, writes Cameron Pine.
Taking over The Facility in North Melbourne, arrival to the venue conjured up a Hunger Games level of cultural authority – industrious, creative and a little bit mysterious – it was the perfect landscape to unleash a room of respect for a man’s mane.
More than 400 people filled the venue that included a live boxing ring installation, a Ducati bike which guests went in the draw to win, all with the necessary hashtags of course. However the night proved that while social media is important, it’s the energy in a room that sets out to honour a specific cause, like the finer details of what keeps men looking good that really stands above all.
The pinnacle of the event was the announcement of 25 finalists and the eventual winner. The brand congratulated Kelvin Wong of Rokk Ebony Collin’s Place as their major winner. See all 25 finalist entries (some hairdressers placed multiple entries in the top 25) below.
As the panel of American Crew educators and mentors on stage, including 2017 winner Ben Kane emphasised it’s about giving something back to the industry that’s the hallmark behind the competition.
“Education is one of the biggest and most important elements in our industry. If you’re not growing you’re not going anywhere,” shared All Star Gary McKenzie. “We as a brand are evolving and changing from the short pompadour back and sides and we want to push you guys to make sure you are changing so you’re on the cover next year.”
It’s this link to innovation and creativity that continues to propel this men’s competition year after year – a building number of entrants including a refreshing number of ladies in the mix embracing men’s hair. It’s proof that it’s not just a growing market, but a lucrative one.
Not only does this talented mix of gentlemen run the education calendar throughout the year, they are also the judges for the competition. Chris Dunkley, Mark Rabone, Gary McKenzie and Lino D’adderio are all committed to the American Crew way of grooming and each spoke of their experiences with the All Star Challenge and how it has shaped and propelled their careers.
All 25 finalists were announced and acknowledged on the night, receiving recognition among their men’s grooming peers – sent to the stage and receiving the framed pictures that have become synonymous with leading men’s grooming destinations.
Fitting with the winner travelling to Barcelona in June to compete with other American Crew finalists from across the globe, the food was a mix of Spanish tapas style dishes, Vietnamese pork, chicken and everything in between – a true global culinary feast that brought the venue and live music.
Ceremonial duties from David Mannah took guests through the true spirit of the American made brand while live sparring in the boxing ring and boys climbing a scaffold to 90s Cake tunes – there was a somewhat humbling level of nostalgia in the room.
The show was comprised of pretty boys trying to do manly things – even if against their will, the important part for American Crew was to stay true to its core foundation as an authority in men’s grooming.
Haircut demonstrations on the floor sporting some serious creativity and designs in the hair provided a surprising twist from the quintessential American Crew aesthetic.
15 American Crew models were styled, groomed and presented across the three signature American Crew looks of Classic, Americana and Sport. Just like some of the hair in the room it was refreshing to see some mastered longer looks in the mix – testament to the fact the American Crew male- just like the brand, continues to evolve to meet the demands of the increasingly fluid male aesthetic.
“This year’s entries created a new standard than ever seen before. The quality surpassed all expectations and highlights the visions and talents of Australian hairdressers and Barbers,” said American Crew Marketing Director, Cristobal De La Rubi. The camaraderie in the room was just as strong and indicative of the Australian men’s market. It’s just as much about the element of sharing knowledge that builds new growth in the men’s frontier. Kings Domain branded bombers backed up against Bold Biba legends in what was a true representation of the incredible talent in Melbourne and nationally.
Filled with sponsors and not just talent, it took some strong partner brands to help make the night a reality; Ducati, Wahl, Liz Zak, Kofer Bags, Bared Footwear, Diesel, Van Heusen and Team Ellis Boxing took the night inspo from corporate to cage fighter.
The mission for American Crew and the All Star challenge is to represent the best stylists on the planet and celebrate unique, artistic vision and on a night like this, guests walk away with much more. Kudos to Crew.
Congratulations to all the 25 finalists:
Tori Gill – Kings Domain
Samantha Theodoulou – Rokk Ebony Mentone
Olivia Nosworthy – BIBA Clifton Hill
Jessica Sutherland – Rokk Man Barbers
Fred Demarches – Fred Demarches
Denise Dolan – Kings Domain, South Yarra
David Wieselmann – Wieselmann Salon
Colin Ellingham – Sweeney Todd’s
Alyse Santry – Kinky Curly Straight
Harriett Tan – Colour It & Man It
Timka Tremouille – Muse Hair
Paul Masci – Mr Masci Barber
Lyndal Salmon – BIBA
Blade Pullman – Luigi & Sons Barbershop
Joe Bibby – Fleet St St Kilda
Johnny Georgiou – Colour Cosmetica
Jordan Tabakman – Kings Domain Barbershop
Karla Smith – Hair By Karla
Lee Chen Teoh – Fleet St Barbers
For more information visit americancrew.com
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