When I lived in London, I used to walk down Jermyn street and admire the shops that housed England's heritage brands— my introduction to selling razors didn't happen directly from my experiences in London. Kent of Inglewood technically began with Knifewear — a Japanese kitchen store.
The demand for grooming products came from our clientele— since we were selling knives, they wondered if we would expand to sell other sharp things, like straight razors. We did just that. Then they asked if we had the classic shaving brushes to match the straight razors, so we grew to sell those too. We ended up with a barbershop inside of a knife store and this grew into Kent of Inglewood three years ago.
What was your first Truefitt & Hill experience? Did that happen when you lived in London?
I first heard about about Truefitt & Hill when I was in London, but my initial impression did not come until a little later. My first foray into Truefitt & Hill happened through a shaving cream purchase. I tried it once, and was converted —the scent and the lather were incredible, and I immediately called and asked to carry it within my stores.
The rest is history.
What differences do you notice in classic men’s grooming products versus more modern iterations?
There really isn't a comparison. I would say that modern grooming tools and product are convenient, but traditional grooming is in a league of its own, and presents an entirely unparalleled experience and a closer shave. As most of us know, a closer shave makes for happier, healthier skin.
As a rule, a single sharp blade gives a closer, less irritating shave than a safety razor. Aerosol can cream is convenient, but a proper cream and a brush gives a lather that actually protects your face while shaving. A shaving cream's lather is vitally important for maintaining healthy skin, since a better lather ensures our face is more protected from abrasion. This is one of the major reasons why any man should seriously consider a brush and a bowl of cream over what commonly comes in a can.
How would you describe the feel of Kent of Inglewood to those who haven’t had the pleasure of a visit?
We like history with modern updates. The feeling of legacy, and classic touches mixed with contemporary style is exactly what our stores give visitors.
Overall, the aesthetic is UK gentleman mixed with Canadian masculinity — we have taxidermy, like our resident Bison head, Tom Waits— a gift from a customer who donated it temporarily until he was able to retrieve it. It’s still here years later.
We're interested in true-to-era touches at Kent of Inglewood. For example, our Calgary manager, Nathan, participated in a 7km Tweed Ride on a penny-farthing bike, with a 100 year old suit and tails— an impressive feat!
What would you say are the differences between English and Canadian aesthetics? What do each bring to Kent of Inglewood?
While we do carry both English and Canadian brands, but they occupy very different spaces. The major difference between the two is that English brands are quite historic, and this long history has contributed to the excellence to the product, whereas Canadian products are almost a re-imagined history—and have learned from British standards. We feel that Canadian products lend a certain wild ruggedness while the English offer a subtle refinement.
The two aesthetics come together in a way that defines Kent of Inglewood perfectly. I've always loved Victorian clutter and places stacked with curiosities, trinkets and old English display furniture. All in all, I'd describe Kent of Inglewood as the dwelling that might house a Victorian gentleman in Canada — with a log cabin chock full of Victorian furniture. A true slice of England in Canada, and influenced by trading posts, pelts and shaving equipment.
Kent of Inglewood reminds me of the compromises that a Brit might have to make in Canada: no compromises on quality, but on surroundings— a forest instead of a garden.
Do you have a favourite Truefitt & Hill product?
Trafalgar shaving cream
. All are great, but it’s the first and my favourite—Trafalgar cologne is a very close second
. Truefitt & Hill's shaving creams are favourites not only among our customers, but the girlfriends and wives of our clients have also been known to abscond with the product.
We can hardly blame them!
Let's talk about straight shaving. What would you say are the major benefits for men who’ve never given this a go (and may find the look of it intimidating)?
I shave with a straight often— I personally love taking a beard off with a straight razor, it feels incredibly manly. One of the great things about shaving with a straight razor is that its impressive—many people think it’s harder than it actually is.
Straight razors are the sharpest thing you’ll find, so it can be intimidating to try shaving with one for the first time, but it's really not as challenging as you think. I suggest paying a visit to a shop that knows how for a tutorial before attempting it yourself. At Kent of Inglewood we host a class on Sundays that teaches customers how to straight-shave—it's a perfect opportunity for anybody interested in trying, and gives a chance to ask any questions that might arise.
As a general rule, I'll say this: you’ll want to prepare your face by making it warm and wet, and start with slow, small strokes. Make sure to use quality products and well-maintained tools, and when in doubt, seek an expert opinion before venturing in.
What do you think about the idea of a modern gentleman? Who is he, and what skills does he have?
A modern gentleman is intelligent and well groomed, and there is no place for racism, misogyny and homophobia in his life. Being Canadian at Kent of Inglewood, we personally embrace the outdoors and a modern gentleman should split wood, light a fire and cook a meal over that fire. He might have even caught the fish he's cooking himself.
Lots of misconceptions about manhood revolve around perceived manliness, but personal presentation is important for all people. Invest in things that can be passed down, and things that are built to last. The idea of legacy and taking pride in yourself is one that we can all incorporate into our own lives, regardless of where you come from.
Kent of Inglewood tells us that gentlemen drink gin, ruffians drink bourbon, and that you like both. Would your sense of style categorize you as more of a gentleman or ruffian?
It's true—at Kent of Inglewood we do enjoy both, as different occasions call for each. As for my sense of style— it changes. When I dress up I dress up well—I do look great in a summer suit. My surroundings greatly influence my style, for example, this summer looks like kayaking, fishing and canoeing, but there’s two sides to this modern man.