Professional hairdressing across the globe has become stagnant, ‘the industry’ has become a dirty word. It’s time to reset. Here’s how.
Revealed to a group of industry leaders within intimate surrounds at Hair Expo, the RESET documentary left no feeling unturned – anger, resentment, excitement, remorse, happiness, laughter, these are the emotions professional hairdressing stimulates today. In a state of deregulation propelled by resistance to change, Howard McLaren calls on industry heavyweights – from government boars to super stylists and iconic veterans – to pour their heart and concerns on the table, ultimately motivating a movement from free fall to fierce uprising.
Spanning across 18 months, hairstylist, filmmaker and one-part director of professional haircare company R+Co, Howard McClaren powered by Luxury Brands travelled the US for 18 months in the creation of one truly emotional 45 minute documentary. Howard was one of the lucky ones who entered hairdressing in the Golden Age – built by the likes of Antoine and Vidal Sassoon and a completely different landscape to the industry Howard’s son, having just graduated ‘beauty school,’ is about to inherit.
For Howard, the term ‘the industry,’ is now a dirty word. “Who is the industry?” He asks.
“A lot of the major manufacturers are undercutting the prices, diverting the products and then lying about diverting the products,” said one LA-based stylist.
“We’re competing with the same companies we’re doing business with.”
For Howard, the original co-creator of Bumble Bumble, he’s experienced firsthand the corporate effect on professional haircare product companies.
“I worked hard for a corporate beauty company and saw how hairdressers were being lied to. They’ll say they’re a professional brand but they’ll take any shelf at a drug store,” he says.
And for Howard this is what maintains and restrains our behavior – our fear of rising prices, a huge factor in the modern industry’s state of disarray.
“We’re afraid to raise our prices incase people run away. During the great depression people spent money on beauty – people need it. You won’t lose a client for a price increase, you’ll lose a client if lack of self-worth is rendered on them,” says Howard.
“We change people’s lives, provide looks and set trends and we need to be compensated for that,” he said.
“Because the industry is so afraid to raise prices, it has become stagnant and this is effecting the resources and opportunities available to the industry. The price of bread and milk goes up year-on-year yet a haircut does not,” says Tevya Finger, CEO of Luxury Brand Partners.
Self-worth – a quality and life-necessity that comes through hard work, experience, skill and drive. Qualities that hairdressing students are 100 per cent not leaving beauty school with, and respectively, failing to enrich the industry with.
“Education is still the core value to becoming great – but what if the people running the education system are completely out of touch?” Asks Howard.
“Our current education curriculum is like handing students a road map of 1950s LA and asking them to navigate the streets of today. They’re going to school to learn how to pass state board, not to cut hair,” says one LA-based salon owner.
The group consensus is that nothing being taught is currently requested in the salon – curriculum is completely irrelevant and graduation should take three months, opposed to the money-making scheme of 1500 hours.
Outdated curriculum leads to student dropouts which leads to non-student funding, defaulted loans and deregulation, the result? A stranded generation without the same opportunities the likes of Howard, or Benni Tognini had.
For Bruno and Zak Mascolo (TONI&GUY), students should be licensed in-house before taking it to the government and paying the associated fee – a solid solution in our opinion.
“We’re people who make a difference and we need to start speaking up or other people will start doing it for us and I can’t guarantee they’ll have our best interest in mind. We need to fight for better education, fight against deregulation and partner with likeminded brands,” says Howard.
This story scratches only the surface of Reset, with important and equally insightful factors such as the older generation’s resistance to the X’rs – their power, influence and commodity through technology and in particular Instagram – plus the push towards salon suites: commission versus booth rental. Salon suites may seem like a foreign concept far from Australian shores and mindset’s however like all trends and traits, we’ll follow America’s lead soon enough, and the pros and cons will be all too real.
“Sometimes you have to press the reset button and lose everything you know to gain a new perspective,” Howard McClaren.
This is 45 minutes every industry-affiliate on the planet should indulge for the benefit of professional hairdressing tomorrow if they’re able.
Lose the script, hit reset.
The Reset can be viewed for free at https://vimeo.com/151969904