#Culture

The Fitzroy Barber: All in a Day’s Work

03.Feb.2015

Melbourne barber Jack Papoutsidis only has to glance down at his regular work attire for proof of a hard day at the office.

“The turned up jeans at the bottom seem to accumulate the daily clippings of each customer,” Papoutsidis explains.

“At the end of the day when I’ve taken the jeans off, there are remnants of the day’s work.”

Papoutsidis is the resident barber at Pickings & Parry, a vintage inspired shop in the heart of Gertrude Street in uber trendy Fitzroy.

The concept combines a traditional old school barbershop with a men’s clothing and products section that celebrates the denim workwear craftsmanship of the past.

Papoutsidis usually gets around in jeans and a T-shirt at work, a classic blend that is as much about comfort as it is portraying that retro look.

“It’s comfortable. It creates an image. Part of barbering culture is that it’s all about the look. Hairstyles and fashion items go hand in hand. They complement each other. It’s all about creating an image.”

Papoutsidis remembers buying his first pair of jeans in his early teens and loving them so much he slept in them that night.
His current staple is the iconic pair of Levi’s 501’s that started a revolution.

“They fit me. They’re well worn. They’re my favourite at the moment,” he says.

“I think every wardrobe has a pair of Levi’s of some sort. It’s a classic brand and everything else has been modelled on or around Levi’s.

“They’re really the pioneers of denim. What we see today is an offshoot of Levi’s culturally and socially. The fact that it’s still here speaks a thousand words.”

Papoutsidis says he slips on a pair of jeans whether heading to music gigs or gardening at home.

For him, they illustrate tradition and classic quality.

His trusty denim jacket also occupies the back seat of his car, ready for any occasion.

“It’s just there. I know that at any time I can pull it out and it’s an acceptable attire.”

The 54-year-old Papoutsidis began his career as a barber in the 70s and in the past five years has welcomed the timely resurgence in men’s grooming.

“It’s almost a lost art. In some cultures it’s been a mainstay. The western world has seen a lull and it fade away. It’s obviously come full circle in a timely return.”

“It’s really allowed males to reclaim their masculinity. They’ve got their place where they can go and discuss and solve the world’s problems.”

Papoutsidis says the job is always unpredictable and there’s always a mix of colourful characters that pop in, whether to try on some denim or indulge in a hot shave.

Fitzroy is an alternative hub known for its eclectic fashion culture and Paspoutsidis gets a big buzz from being a part of the brand.

“The biggest plus for the job is the number of people you meet and the cross-section of the community. Everybody needs a haircut. We’re getting all number of people, from surgeons to street sweepers. You have thirty minutes of their time to get to know them and their lives.”