Forever seeking out the best barbers in Britain, Defacto spoke with Ross Parlane owner of RPB, a barbershop in the Northern Quarter of Manchester.
We wanted to know why he chose barbering, where he sees the industry going and, of course, who would play him in a movie.
First off, how does it feel to be named one of the best barbers in Manchester by ‘Manchester Confidential’?
“This is actually our second post that we’ve been featured in. we’ve been open for 8 months now and already we’ve been placed pretty high up in lists and also we’ve been named by another magazine so for us to be featured within 8 months of opening and trading is pretty amazing. We’re a pretty unique barbershop in Manchester, our cuts aren’t just a standard barber cut, its not just cuts and skin fades, we specialise in long hair as well. We’re not just all about short hair, we also allow women in, ladies with shorter hair like to come in feel like they’re getting a proper sharp cut. When they go to a ladies salon and they feel like they’re not getting a short enough cut, women want to feel that sharpness as well, just as much as men do.”
I had a look on your Instagram and I saw that you, referring back to your work with women as well, done a patterned undercut on a girl with really long hair.
“I’d never actually done something like that before, a lady contacted me and said that she wanted to donate her undercut to a kids charity, The Little Princess Trust. For me it was pretty special and she had the sickest hair I’ve ever seen and we did an undercut and put a lotus design into it. For me it’s quite a nice thing to give to charity as well and it was nice for a woman to want to come and see us in the barbershop. We took it down to a one and that’s quite tight from a lady and she’s been back so from that we’ve got a customer.”
What actually inspired you to get into barbering?
“I was a ladies hairdresser first to be honest; I worked with ladies hair for years. A guy called Neil Atkinson was my trainer at Mahogany and he showed me everything, short hair and long hair and he’s got me where I am now, one of the best in the hairdressing industry and was like a second dad to me when I left home and moved to Manchester. About two and a half years ago I realised that all my customers were men. Like Football manager David Moyes and a few players from Manchester United Manchester city, and one on loan at Celtic, I still cut David Moyes hair now and I felt like I had to specialise in doing men’s hairdressing and barbering. I moved to a barbershop in Manchester about two and a half years ago and about a year ago I decided to open my own barbershop. Were getting quite a lot of footballers here as well, some good names in football, it’s all about expanding and being the best you can be.”
Obviously your dads Scottish and he has a background in football (Derek Parlane, Rangers and Scotland, for those wondering), are you into football and if so if you had the chance to be Team Captain of Rangers or win barber of the year what one would you choose?
“I’m a massive football fan, Rangers and City, yeah. Wearing a number 9 jersey for Rangers would be a dream for me. Both equal for me though, there’s so many amazing barbers out there now but I’m still young I’m only 27 so you never know what the next 5 years will bring. I feel like I’m really quite young, especially having my own shop and business, such a great industry to be in.”
What’s your favourite kind of style to work with?
“For me my favourite style varies on the client. Not everyone will suit having a skin fade, not everyone will suit having a crop. You’ve got to look at the client’s lifestyle and face shape. The slick back was a big thing last year but right now I’m enjoying the crop. Textured or blunt, it’s a big style in Manchester at the moment.”
The style of your shop, the interior is sort of industrial but minimalist, did you come up with that yourself?
“Yeah I designed it all myself, me and my friend Mark Turnpenny, he’s an electrician we spent 5 weeks kitting the shop ourselves, stripping it back to an industrial feel with the raw ceiling and the retro chairs. We’ve also added some old vintage style furniture in our reception area, we have an old school bench at our bar and then we have a 1920s old hospital bed side tables and sections for our drawers. We imported them from Slovakia, we’ve got an industrial yet vintage feel, and I’m not really a big fan of the old school retro barbershop thing so this is what inspired me.”
Like you said you’ve got a bar and a little coffee shop, why is that?
“We’re the only licensed barbershop in Manchester, we’ve got a full alcohol licensed. We’ve had companies like Jamieson’s and Guinness who supply us with large selections of lager. It was amazing PR for them and we were giving them all out to our clients and we recently had a rum company called Old J come and set up the bar and had a guy doing drinks for us at the bar. Yeah it’s a totally different vibe to any other barbershop. It’s quite a cool thing being a fully licensed barbershop. We want to be different we spend a lot of time doing the cuts, at least 45 minutes and you want to reach the kind of service they’re after really. I have a fantastic team, I have a young 19 year old who works with me and he’s going to be amazing, I have a young lad who works on a Saturday and I’m training him up once a week and I’ve got my eye on him as a rising star and a special mention to Dan Burgess who is amazing and a great right hand man.”
You’re obviously working with some up and coming talent, so where do you see barbering heading in the future?
“Every Tuesday night, every week I spend time training the boys up; I put what I learn into what I teach them. I don’t want to be that guy who doesn’t spread the knowledge and they’re soaking it up like a sponge really. For me the thing I want to apply to barbering and the thing I think is quite important is that scissor cutting is still in there. I think a lot of people are getting skin fades now and for me how long is a skin fade going to last? So for me what I’m trying to teach my lads is that the art is in the scissor cutting so I want the boys to understand that its not all about picking up a clipper. For me long hair is going to come back again and people who are just picking up clippers in college are going to be lost and confused. So for me my apprentice wont be picking up clippers until I feel that he is confident enough.”
If they made a movie about your life, who would play you?
“Leonardo DiCaprio… Nah I’m only joking! Eh I quite like the guy who was a main actor in skins… I can’t remember his name. He’s been in quite a lot. I quite like him to be honest. He’s a great British talent and I think he’s a great actor. I like him.” (Interviewers note: The actor is called Jack O’Connell, we got there in the end!)
If you won the lottery tomorrow, how would it change your life?
“It wouldn’t change my life at all I’d still keep doing what I’m doing, I’d just go on more holidays. I’ll always be barbering; I’ll never stop doing what I love.”
You can visit Ross’s website HERE!