One of the most persistent masculine myths is that “cool” should be effortless—that “real” men don’t need grooming, or styling, or primping. But ask anyone who’s tried to pull off the whole James Dean cuffed jeans and white t-shirt look: cool requires a fair investment of time and energy. And the more natural a look seems, the more effort it actually requires.
That’s where Regal Grooming Lounge fits in. The men’s hair studio, which recently opened a new location in Vancouver’s financial district, is a kind of oasis for men looking to up their style game—a place men can go when they want to look good, without feeling bad about the time it takes.
“It’s an experience, definitely,” says Angelo Khoshaba, Regal’s founder and co-owner. “There are lots of barber shops in the city—good barber shops. But there is nothing like this in Vancouver. In a way, we’re copying an idea that’s in Toronto, Los Angeles, New York. We’re trying to use their ideas, and then make it fit in the Vancouver scene.”
As Khoshaba explains, his business is part of a larger trend in which spending time and money on one’s appearance is a gender-neutral activity. “That line between men and women in terms of grooming is becoming a little more blurry,” Khoshaba notes. “Men want to look sharp. They don’t look at eyebrow shaping or a manicure as something foreign or feminine. They want the services that women get, but they don’t want to be in a ladies’ atmosphere.”
Indeed, Regal is a million miles from your average beauty salon. And probably another million from your dad’s barber shop. Instead of a grizzled old-timer standing in front of a spinning pole of red, white, and blue, you’ll find a crew of fashionably hip stylists and a contemporary, distinctly masculine vibe: a dark design palette, high ceilings with plenty of exposed duct work, a full complement of beverages (both alcoholic and virgin), TV mirrors playing sports highlights, and a generous helping of house music.
As far as services go, Regal offers a full range—everything from haircuts and stylings, to straight-razor shaves, to more elaborate menu items such as beard and eyebrow sculpting, “sports” manicures, and shoe polishing. Everything is performed by expert-level stylists with a good deal of experience in men’s grooming—the kind of people who can answer style questions with insight and advice, rather than just a pair of scissors.
As Khoshaba explains, the word “Lounge” was chosen deliberately, in order to make the place feel less like a salon and more like a gentlemen’s club. “We wanted something a little more modern,” he says. “But not too modern—not something that you look at from outside and are intimidated by. But not something too casual, also.”
Most of Regal’s clients are what Khorshaba calls “downtown people”—well-heeled urbanites who work (and increasingly live) in the heart of the city. That includes up-and-coming executives, affluent lawyers, style-conscious millennials, a fair number of sports celebrities, and anyone else who appreciates a well-done do.
If you’re looking for a quick cut that gets you in and out in as little time as possible, Regal is not your place. Instead, it’s a spot where you want to linger and spend a little time—the point being not only to look forward to your stylistic destination, but to enjoy the journey there.
While drop-ins are always welcome, the Lounge works primarily on a monthly membership. The premiere tier offers unlimited hair and beard styling, as well as front-of-the-line access to Regal’s most experienced groomers. The goal is to encourage members to come in not just when hair is looking shaggy, but anytime they want to feel suave—before the date, the meeting, the dinner, the wedding, the night out, whatever. Essentially, Regal grants permission to make an effort.
“The bottom line is, we make people look great,” Khorshaba says. “And when they walk out, they feel like a million dollars. It’s a good feeling.” Then again, “cool” always is.
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