Letter from Singapore: the male grooming 'crisis'
Last month The Economist published a feature-length piece on the glum future of men in the modern world. It seems ‘the weaker sex’ are struggling to adapt to a changing world that increasingly values brains over brawn.
In Asia, however, new men seem to be coping very well with the changing world, thank you very much, and are making themselves right at home. There’s no crisis of masculinity here. And nothing illustrates that point better than the stratospheric rise of Asia’s male grooming trend.
According to Kantar Worldpanel, male grooming products are outperforming women’s beauty products in terms of growth in almost every Asian market. 63% of men in Korea use a facial toner for crying out loud!
Does it mean that Asian men are embracing their feminine side? Not at all. Apparently, for instance, men still don’t like shopping as much as women. On-line retailer Tate and Tonic curates a selection of clothes based on user profiles and sends them direct to your doorstep – no visit to a mall required. It’s effectively taken over the traditional role of the girlfriend or wife in picking clothes for their menfolk. In short, Singaporean men are simply becoming more confident at defining their own masculinity.
Meanwhile, all over Singapore you can hardly throw a pomade brush without hitting an old school barbershop. Men are flocking to quirky independent establishments to get their moustaches waxed and their pompadours sculpted. Impeccably English institutions like Truefitt & Hill rub hair-dusted shoulders with local upstarts like The Hound of the Baskervilles and Sultans of Shave.
At Sultans of Shave, there’s a bar where you can buy a drink or even keep your own bottle of Hibiki for those thirsty shave moments. At The Gentleman’s Lounge, you can choose between a spa treatment and a glass of scotch and a spot of TV. All of them offer man-centric respite from the pace of the modern world. All of them aspire to varying levels of hipsterdom and gentlemanly swagger. And frankly, all of them make me green with envy that nothing similar exists for women. If anyone hears of a nail salon offering Japanese whisky in Singapore, do let me know.
This letter is the first in a new series, written by our members around the world. It was written by Katie Ewer, strategy director at JKR Global. Read more from Katie in our Clubhouse.