Interview: Truefitt & Hill

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Joanna Broughton, Director of Truefitt & Hill in London

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Truefitt & Hill Barbershop in London

As a traditional shaver, you are probably very familiar with Truefitt & Hill. Given the title of the ‘Oldest Barbershop in the World’ by the Guinness Book of World Records, Truefitt & Hill is one of the most respected and long-storied wet shaving companies in existence.

Founded in 1805 by wigmaker, barber, and perfumer Francis Truefitt, the company’s history encompasses a long list of Royal Warrants, starting with King George III and continuing today with H.R.H. The Duke of Edinburgh, as well as distinguished historical figures like Winston Churchill and Lord Byron, who were regulars.

Today, we sit down with Joanna Broughton, Director of Truefitt & Hill in London, to take you behind the brand and reveal some interesting, lesser known spots in the company’s history. From the incorporation of Truefitt & Hill into the British lexicon – ever heard of the expression, “right as a trivet”? That’s a corruption of ‘Truefitt’ – to the development of the first commercially produced lipstick by Truefitt’s chemists, we believe you’ll learn something new about this legendary brand.

Enjoy!

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Truefitt & Hill has an incredibly rich history. Can you tell us the story of how it began?

There is no question that Truefitt’s history is rather impressive. In fact, in April 2000 the company was awarded the title of the ‘Oldest Barbershop in the World’ by Guinness Book of World Records! It all began when Francis Truefitt opened his doors for trade on the 21st of October, 1805 in fashionable Mayfair, on the day of the Battle at Cape Trafalgar.

While King George III sat on England’s throne, he appointed Truefitt as Court Wig Maker. It wasn’t until 1935 that Truefitt acquired Edwin Hill’s salon and they merged businesses, moving to an enlarged premise on Old Bond Street. Truefitt offered London’s gentry a new level of service unsurpassed anywhere in the world, featuring exceptional products and barbering services.

The company also has long-standing royal ties, which started with a Royal Warrant from King George III. How does it feel having maintained such prestigious recognition?

We feel exceptionally honored to have maintained our Royal Warrant status. Truefitt & Hill currently are Royal Warrant holders to H.R.H. The Duke of Edinburgh. Today’s product offerings reflect over 200 years of research, knowledge, and experience which we are proud to be able to build upon, while we continue providing services and superior grooming products to a discerning modern male who is aware of the advantages of always putting his best face forward.

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Truefitt & Hill’s famous colognes

What was Truefitt & Hill’s first product, and how did it come about?

Truefitt opened its doors in 1805 as a barber, perfumer, and wigmaker. So the very first products were shaving preparations, fragrances, and wigs. In fact, Truefitt’s reputation as a very talented wigmaker soon earned him the customer of King George III. Since Truefitt’s wigs were so well made, they were indeed fit for the king himself! It was the perfect fit of Truefitt’s wigs in the bygone days that gave the rise to the English phrase, “right as a trivet,” which was a corruption of ‘Truefitt’!

Indeed, if anything was a perfect fit, it was as right as Truefitt’s wig. The pioneering spirit of Truefitt’s innovative past has influenced not only male grooming trends, but has also given birth to ladies’ hairdressing salons! It was Truefitt who, in 1870, opened the very first ladies’ salon at 23 Old Bond Street. This fashionable establishment was an instant success and numerous literary quotes confirm Truefitt’s status as the hairdresser of choice for fashionable aristocratic ladies and for Queen Victoria herself! Graced by Her Majesty’s favor and driven by an increasing demand, Truefitt commenced commercial production of toiletries in 1875. What’s more, it also appears that the first commercially produced lipstick was developed by Truefitt’s chemists!

In 1900, C.A.R. Lotion was formulated after a barrage of requests from members of the Royal Automobile Club (R.A.C.), who sought a solution to the problem of unruly and windswept hair caused by travel in their new, open automobiles that were driven at the alarming speeds of 20 miles an hour! The product is still a firm favorite today.

Some of your fragrances, like West Indian Limes and Spanish Leather, date as far back as the early 1800’s. Why do you think these scents have persisted in popularity with customers?

Truefitt fragrances have indeed stood the test of time as they continue in their popularity. We have a wide selection of scents which appeal to a wide spectrum of tastes, and the addition of new colognes is very carefully thought out to ensure they complement the current fragrance selection. The latest addition to our repertoire of fragrances is Apsley, a distinctive and captivating fragrance which already enjoys great popularity!

West Indian Limes draws on our rich heritage and traces its origins to an Imperial Bouquet, which was specially blended for Queen Victoria by Truefitt’s perfumers in 1876 to celebrate her crowning as Empress of India. This enchanting fragrance was re-orchestrated in 1989 with great success, making it one of Truefitt’s most popular, classic scents. It remains to this day a favourite with British Royalty.

Spanish Leather, on the other hand, is one of the oldest in Truefitt’s stable, with the original formulation dating back to around 1814, during a time when all of England was waiting with great anticipation for any news from Spain regarding the British military campaign that was at the time being led by the gallant Arthur Wellesley (later the 1st Duke of Wellington) in the Peninsular War. This rich, but subtle blend of woody, leathery and spicy notes, which truly captures the spirit of old Granada and Castile, was extensively re-orchestrated in 2001, bringing it firmly into the 2nd millennium. It has become a favourite with stylish men who enjoy a touch of nostalgia.

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A Truefitt barber performing a wet shave

What do you take into consideration when developing a new product?  

The necessity of staying relevant at all times to the changing needs of the modern man is the key to Truefitt’s enduring success. New ranges of products are regularly launched to cater not only to the latest fashion and grooming trends, but also to stay in the forefront of product innovation, utilizing the latest advancements in product formulations.

What do you believe makes Truefitt & Hill products distinctive?

Our heritage. With over 200 years of experience and refinement, we have been able to adjust formulations to ensure the best quality possible for all skin types. Our shaving creams, for example, have a high level of glycerin in their composition, which ensures a protective shave with a full lather and minimal application.

Our balms are non-oily and non-greasy but have moisturizing ingredients to replenish the skin post shave, leaving a smooth, clean finish. Our Ultimate Comfort unscented line offers sensitive skin or allergenic gentleman a superior product without irritation. The line includes our very fine pre-shave oil, which only requires a few drops to still allow a close shave (most oils are too thick). We feel privileged to be able to offer every gentleman a product suitable for them with an outstanding result.

What is one Truefitt & Hill product every man should own and why?

Our shaving creams are exemplary, as are our balms. A superior shave and healthy, clean skin exude confidence. A little goes a long way with all our products.

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Truefitt & Hill’s storefront is a wet shaver’s paradise

What new products can we expect from Truefitt & Hill in the future?

We are very pleased to announce that our new cologne will be launching in the next couple of weeks in North America (it has already launched in the UK), called “Apsley”. This cologne was named after the iconic London landmark and former residence of the 1st Duke of Wellington, and has been formulated to ignite the senses with a refined blend of smouldering woods accentuated by light citrus notes. The harmonious overtones of woody vetiver are lifted with a refreshing essence of grapefruit, and are accentuated by notes of pepper. Its heart of cedarwood and patchouli, enriched by sensual notes of musk, gives an alluring base to this captivating fragrance.

Apsley shaving cream and bath & shower gel are to follow.

We have also recently launched new beard products, including a beard oil and a beard balm, as well as a moustache wax to offer a wider range to those who wish to maintain their facial hair.

We have 5 new traditional hair dressings that just launched:  Limnol, Freshman Friction, Monte Carlo with Oil, Athenian Water, and Eau de Portugal to add to our hair management products.

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Where can readers find out more about your company?

We will have an updated historical brochure available online on all our websites in coming months, as we are in the process of updating with our new offerings. Any questions may be addressed to info@truefittandhill.com.

Learn more about Truefitt & Hill on their website. Follow Truefitt & Hill on Facebook and Instagram.

Shop Truefitt & Hill at RoyalShave.

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History of Wet Shaving: Geo. F. Trumper

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Instagram: @ourkidthebarber

A Victorian Age Gem

Geo. F. Trumper began as a barber and perfumer in London during the Victorian era of the late 19th century, when the gentleman ruled supreme. Mr. George Trumper founded his shop in 1875 at 9 Curzon Street, where it is still located today.  Catering to the quintessential English gentleman, the company sold wares consisting of cufflinks, walking sticks, perfumes, and razors – all things which can be found when visiting the store to this day.

One of Geo. F. Trumper’s specialties from the beginning was perfumes, which were commissioned by and named after the nobility. Today, Geo. F. Trumper continues to fabricate perfumes, some even still named after those original noblemen (such as their famous Wellington).  

Tradition, without a doubt, runs deep within the going ons at Geo. F. Trumper. The family-run business can be traced back to George Trumper.  Their lime-based aftershaves are still wrapped in pink paper, an homage to the British war effort during the second world war.  (During this time, all other colors had been required by the military to be used in the war effort.)

The interior of the store also remains as it was when founded.  You’ll find the same mahogany display cubicle and glass cabinets installed during the shop’s opening in 1875.  And you can get yourself a classic shave in a private velvet-curtained room, where during the Victorian era, men of all classes would go for a regal shave.

Geo. F. Trumper later opened their second location, dubbed The St. James Shop,on Duke of York Street in London.

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Keeping Tradition Alive

Though Geo. F. Trumper is strongly committed to tradition, the company has not failed to stay relevant to the current age.  Maintaining their signature level of luxury and style, Geo. F. Trumper has made the move to selling online, bringing their long-held traditions to the rest of the world.  

Their shops offer the best of what any gentleman could desire and remain one of the few of their kind to still offer professional barber services, including hair cutting, hair tinting, mustache and beard trimming, shaving, and manicure and pedicure services. All these services are performed on location and in the privacy of a curtained cubicle. When in London, a visit to Geo. F. Trumper is a must for any true gentleman.

Find out more about Geo. F. Trumper on their website, and shop Geo. F. Trumper at RoyalShave.

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The History of Wet Shaving: Taylor of Old Bond Street

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Instagram: @edcharmain

Keeping it in the Family

First and foremost, Taylor of Old Bond Street is a family business. Passed down over the course of 4 generations, the company keeps the operation small and immensely attentive, offering discerning wet shavers what they call the “Taylor Tradition” – products with pure, natural ingredients and a product range that “includes the luxurious and the unusual.”

Taylor of Old Bond Street was founded on September 1st, 1854 by Jeremiah Taylor, the great grandfather of today’s Chairman, Leonard Taylor. The business began as a hairdressing salon on Bond Street, and soon enough Taylor of Old Bond Street gained a reputation amongst the British gentry for superior hair and scalp treatments extracted from natural ingredients.

Jeremiah’s son, Ivan, later took over the business, using his expertise in chemistry to develop many new treatments.

In 1930, Ivan’s son, Sidney, expanded the business, opening up a second location on Jermyn Street. And today, Sidney’s son, Leonard, continues to be at the forefront of Taylor of Old Bond Street, creating hair, skin, and beard products that epitomize classic British style.

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A Commitment to Quality and Style

Taylor of Old Bond Street’s philosophy of balancing natural, high-quality ingredients with refined elegance has been a hit with wet shavers since its inception. Whether you’re lathering up their perennially popular Sandalwood Shaving Soap or applying their Bay Rum Aftershave Lotion, you always feel like a gentleman.

Taylor of Old Bond Street products are reliable and add a touch of understated elegance to your shave den.

Today you can visit Taylor of Old Bond Street at 74 Jermyn Street, located in the heart of London’s fashionable West End. Stop in for a relaxing barbershop shave or simply admire the dizzying array of shaving soaps, brushes, razors, and every wet shaving implement you could imagine.

Find out more about Taylor of Old Bond Street on their website, and shop Taylor of Old Bond Street at RoyalShave.

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Top 5 Instagrams for all things Wet Shaving

Although many may consider wet shaving to be particularly niche, social media platforms have helped grow appreciation for the art. Instagram, YouTube, and even blogs such as this one allow wet shaving enthusiasts to gather, learn, and most of all, discover the latest and greatest in the world of wet shaving.

Here we have picked our top 5 wet shaving Instagram accounts, from YouTube reviewers and wet shave instructors to world-renowned barbershops and men’s grooming companies. Hopefully this will help you in picking out your next shaving creme, finding a beautiful custom brush, or even just finding like-minded shaving aficionados.

Nick Shaves (@nickshaves)

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@nickshaves

Nick Shaves is a true shaving aficionado and self-described wet shaving instructor, not to mention a YouTube reviewer of all things shaving related. His instructional videos are some of the best we’ve seen, and a great starting point for those looking to get into the complex art of shaving.

Nick also runs one of the best wet shaving Instagram accounts around, with great pictures of all the latest and greatest pucks, cremes, brushes, and razors. Not to mention that all of his pictures include his own in-depth insights into the products being used. We believe his Instagram is a great resource for anyone who is interested in the world of wet shaving.

Brushcraft (@brushcraft)

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@brushcraft

A relatively small Instagram handle, but nonetheless one of our personal favorites. Chris Trimble creates his own absolutely beautiful brushes and safety razors, regularly showcasing them on his Instagram page. That isn’t all he does, though. Chris also regularly posts reviews on wet shaving items that catch his interest and will even answer questions relating to them in the comments. Chris’ Instagram page is another place we would recommend to anyone who shaves using a brush and puck.

Tony Shaves (@tonyshaves)

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@tonyshaves

Another relatively small but great Instagram page for those into a good shave. Tony regularly posts great compositions of what he’s been shaving with, along with generally in-depth reviews containing his personal insights into the products. Tony runs this alongside his wet shaving review site bartonio.com, but his Instagram posts tend to give a quicker, bite-sized overview of the products he’s reviewing.

Bullfrog Barbershop (@bullfrog_barbershop)

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@bullfrog_barbershop

Founded by Romana Brida, Bullfrog is a traditional style barber shop located in both Milan and Zurich. Brida’s Instagram isn’t strictly shaving related, but more of an overall look into the world of men’s grooming. That being said, a lot of his pictures have to do with wet shaving. His photos are great and offer insight into the latest trends in both men’s fashion and men’s grooming – two things that should definitely go hand in hand.

Brooklyn Grooming (@brooklyngrooming)

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@brooklyngrooming

Based out of New York and founded by Mckenzie and Alfredo, this Instagram is one of the best in men’s grooming and wet shaving. The page features a wide array of beautiful photos, all pertaining to men’s grooming and sometimes men’s fashion, with the occasional post on architecture around the city of New York. This Instagram also has many great pictures of the latest in the world of shaving. Brooklyn Grooming is a handle we would recommend to anyone who is into men’s grooming or fashion.

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