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David Jones

Meet the Barber

Part 2 of our The Art of Presentation series sees us with Tony Vacher, founder of Sterling Hairdressing Parlour and Barber Shop. We chat to him about age-old barbering techniques and the importance of personal presentation.

It may have started as something of a hipster trend but going to the barber for a cut and a shave has become de riguer when it comes to men's grooming. Indeed there is an art now associated with barbering but for Tony Vacher, they're skills that he's always known. 

"Barbering has been a massive part of my life, it is me and without it I wouldn’t be who I am," says Tony, who is founder of Sterling Hairdressing Parlour and Barber Shop in Surry Hills, as well as Sterling Apothecary in Chippendale. "[It's] more than men’s grooming – it’s historical. There are techniques that we use in our shop that date back hundreds of years that have kind of been forgotten. Unless you come from a barbering background and have been taught by an old-school barber you may not actually understand those techniques."

These age-old barbering techniques were impressed on Tony at a young age, working at his uncle's barber shop from the age of 13 where he started off "...just sweeping the floors and doing general odd jobs like making coffee for people. [But] my uncle and the time I spent working for him was a huge influence on me."

"He used to say to people “Have a sterling day” as they would leave so he’s why my shop is called Sterling," admits Tony. "Without him and his influence, [my] business wouldn’t exist."

In the barbering and hairdressing industry, Tony leads the way in retro rockabilly style. Both his shops are a treasure trove of vintage relics and decor from the studded leather barber chairs to the cut-glass whisky decanters to the cutthroat razors, and he and his staff specialise in providing traditional hair styling services, including Continental barbering and old Hollywood pin-up looks. Tony himself looks like he has stepped out of the '50s, dressed in a midnight blue Paul Costelloe 'Birdseye' waistcoat and vintage silver chain shirt sleeve holders. 

It's clear that for Tony, looking the part is not just important but it needs to be authentic. "I've been dressing like this for over 30 years and [my style] has weaved in and out of fashion over the years but I've always been true to myself," he says.

"Presentation in our industry is really important – you wouldn’t want to walk into a shop and be cut by somebody that looks shabby. Looking smart and being well-presented is paramount – if you’re not portraying a good image of yourself, then how can you pass it on to your client?"