A Soothing Bit of Rebellion at Rebell Barbers
Recently I started thinking about getting a proper haircut. Wait… don’t stop reading! I know that sounds like an odd way to start but, bear with me. I’m digging into something I feel like most guys typically don’t pay much attention to.
I’ve lived in Prague for four years and have never really gone out of my way when it came to haircare. I mean, I’m a pretty average guy so I’d kind of just… select a shop based on price, convenience, availability, or location.
I’m from L.A. originally and, there, I had at least found someone I trusted to cut my hair. I wouldn’t have called her “a stylist,” necessarily, and she worked for a chain but she was consistent, knew what I wanted, and didn’t cost too much. My typical cut wasn’t anything dramatic or specific, but over here I still hadn’t found anyone I felt I could count on for a certain level of service – until this week, that is.
Part of the issue is my fault, of course, because for me, the Czech language is really hard to learn and your average kadeřnictví in Prague isn’t full of English speakers. When I go in I tend to bring a photo on my phone to give them an idea of the style or look I want… and then I kinda just have to… let them do their thing and hope for the best.
In my case, hope doesn’t seem to be enough. After several poor cuts and one totally botched one (I wore a ballcap for a couple of weeks), I wanted to find someone who really knew what he or she was doing – even if I had to pay a bit more for the privilege.
I started looking into what could be considered more “serious” Barber shops and, if you live in Prague, it isn’t long before you come across Gentlemen Brothers, but for me, something about the overall aesthetic put me off. If I had to boil it down I suppose it felt… too “hipster” for me. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
A few weeks later I was starting to feel a little frustrated and my hair was starting to get pretty shaggy. I even had several days of beard-growth which is unusual for me. Combine that with the fact that the hot water in our building has been off for nearly two weeks(!) and you could say that I was getting desperate for a little self-care.
That’s when I came across Rebell Barbers with their fancy moustachioed and bearded skull logo.
I”ll be totally honest: At first I thought, “great, another hipster shop,” but I scrolled through their website and something about Rebell felt… different.
“Ok,” I thought to myself, “I’m ready to be a rebel.” I decided to make an appointment and was told I should see “Siki.” I booked a slot for the following week.
Rebell has an aesthetic that pays homage to years past (courtesy of old black and white Barbershop pictures on the wall) while offering a more sleek, updated industrial and modern style. There’s a healthy bit of rebellion thrown in for good measure, hence the name. The shop has an old-school vibe, but it’s not your granddad’s barber shop, nor is it that stodgy Oak feeling of some other shops in town where you almost expect to sit there surrounded by cigar smoke (again, fine if that’s your thing, but it’s not mine).
It’s a perfect mixture of classic with a triumphant middle finger held high. Much more my taste. The Nusle location is bright and airy with concrete, shiny tile, and exposed wiring. The Karlin location is a bit more hip and warm with it’s exposed brick and wood floors.
Everything is clean and both locations feel comfortable, which is key.
A Rebell shop is the type of place where you wouldn’t be surprised to find a tattoo artist adding that skull logo to someone’s bicep in the corner… They don’t have a tattoo artist (yet), but you get what I mean.
The staff is friendly, inviting, and English is not a problem, but what makes it really cool is that you’re made to feel kind of like you dropped by to see a friend. When you arrive you’ll be offered a drink; They have an espresso machine or, if you want something a bit stiffer, you can opt for a whiskey or rum. They also offer beer (this is the Czech Republic, after all) or water. I know they do this at some other places, but again, the overall vibe of Rebell just seemed to make it less… showy, I guess. Casual.
The day of my appointment arrived and I got there a few minutes early. I opted for a coffee and a glass of water while I waited. When my appointment time rolled around I was promptly lead over to the station of Matej “Siki” Sikora. Siki is a Czech from the small town of Havírov near the Polish border. He introduced himself and we had a quick chat about what I was looking for that day.
I had decided to treat myself with the Complete Service and had been told in advance to reserve about 90 minutes for the service. I settled into my old-school red leather barbers chair, Siki went to work and we started talking.
Siki found the profession early on and was attracted to its unique opportunity for expression, artistry, and not unlike a tattooist, the chance to converse with and learn about the lives of a vast array of clients. He started studying the profession in school and eventually with the multiple award-winning brand Toni & Guy. Eventually, he decided to strike out on his own and, with his partners, start their own shop.
Between Rebell’s two locations in Karlin and Nusle (they’ll be expanding soon), Siki personally sees about 12 clients per day and works no less than six days-a-week. When he’s not seeing clients he spends his time training their combined eight employees in company culture, consulting on design aspects, and expansion of the Rebell brand. He is also the sole Brand Ambassador (or “Scumbassador” – this will make sense in the next paragraph) for men’s Hair and Skincare product manufacturer Reuzel in the Czech Republic.
Reuzel started in Rotterdam where two well-known and respected Barbers, Leen and Bertus, decided to start a school where they could train newcomers to the profession with a bit of the old-school method while incorporating an edge. Again, think Rock & Roll. Think “Kustom Culture.” The aforementioned middle finger.
Leen and Bertus are, according to their own description, “decent scumbags,” and if that doesn’t give you a sense of what kind of guys we’re talking about, I don’t know what would. For the heavily tattooed duo and, indeed, for Siki as well (minus the fully tattooed “sleeves”), Barbering isn’t a job… it’s a calling. A way of life.
This dedication to craft quickly brought success to the two men in Holland and their desire to expand was a no-brainer. Once they met Siki, they knew he would be the perfect guy to spread the gospel in the Czech Republic. A line of products quickly followed that leaned in to masculinity. Scents like Sandalwood, Wood and Spice, Tea Tree Oil, and Witch Hazel/Rosemary are the manly standard.
In our society, it’s common that women head out (sometimes in groups) for a bit of a pampering session. Mani-Pedi’s. A day at “the spa.” And while a man getting a manicure isn’t unheard of, you tend to think of guys calling it quits at, let’s say, a sauna and a massage… But Siki and his fellow “Scumbassador’s” believe that a visit to the barber can be its own unique experience. That men deserve more and that taking care of yourself is foundational and leads to greater confidence.
Having now sat for the Complete Service I have to say I agree and, if you give them a shot, I imagine you’ll want to treat yourself from time to time, too.
Here’s what I got as part of the Complete Service: A cut with scissors and clippers, styling (they’ll even do your eyebrows if they’re starting to look like wild caterpillars sitting on your face), a Reuzel hair and scalp treatment, a head and neck massage, beard treatment or complete shave with a straight razor (I felt like I was in a scene from The Godfather), hair wash and even skin care. Twice I was placed under pore-opening hot towels and then, at the end, a soothing cold towel treatment to close those pore’s back up. At one point, Siki even used an open flame to singe off those little ear hairs (“a Turkish method,” he told me).
The whole experience was incredibly relaxing, especially the scalp massage, and the fragrances of the Reuzel products were pleasant and not over-powering. In my opinion, and with a few days distance, I can say that the cut and styling were expert level. As I mentioned before, I also went in with about five days of beard growth and came out smooth as a baby.
If you’d like to try out Rebell, a reservation is recommended but not required, though without one, you can expect to wait. Word has spread about the two shops and Siki and his Barber’s are already seeing quite the demand. Karlin is busier due to its central location, but the Nusle location, which has been open for about 3 months, is buzzing as well with a large influx of expats and tourists – no doubt due to the proximity of several large hotels in the area.
Appointments, depending on your needs last from thirty to ninety minutes, with the Complete Service being the top end of that clock as previously mentioned. Prices range from 390 crowns for a simple cut (electric razor, beard and eyebrow contour, the Turkish flame singeing, hair wash, head massage and final styling) to 1590 crowns for the Complete. At 1590 crowns, the Complete Service probably isn’t something you’d do every time, but getting that service once every couple of months is a nice treat and one I’ll likely repeat.
If you’ve been looking for a solid place to get a haircut and or beard care, the type of place you could trust and return to on a regular basis, I highly recommend you give Rebell Barbers a shot. And they also offer Gift Vouchers in case you need some stocking stuffers for the upcoming holiday season.
If you decided to try them out, tell them City Spy sent you!