Brendan Murdock interview
I caught up with Brendan Murdock, founder of Murdock London – official moustache keepers of the Rugby Ralph Lauren Tweed Run, to find out what inspired him to start the traditional barbers and why he thinks they’re more relevant now than ever.
What inspired you to start Murdock in 2006? How do you feel it is unique from other barbers?
There was the overuse of the term ‘metrosexuality’ which is a glibb marketing term. I felt that men did want to be groomed and learn about grooming but not necessarily in a sterile/slick environment. The relationship with the barber is key, it is through that relationship trust is created, and our customers more confidently can discover the art of grooming. At the top of the tree of barber shops there was Trumpers and Trufitt & Hill used historically by the courtiers of the palaces and grand residences of Mayfair/ St James, otherwise for the most part barbershops were quite tired/cheap looking. I wanted to take what combined the history/luxury of those mayfair establishments such as Trumpers but blend it with modern influences, creating an accessible salon for men of all social backgrounds rather than a place for a certain strata of society. Hence shoreditch was selected, a market I know well having had a restaurant there, and also a place to test the brand and concept, to ensure it worked in other locations.
There seems to be a resurgance of 40s/50s inspired men’s hairstyles at the moment, can you see anything that inspired this revival?
I think it’s a combination of things. The 90s and early 2000s were more casual and relaxed. Now in times of osterity there is often a return to traditions, bespoke tailoring has had a complete revival, a renewed interest in ‘made in England’ and also in general considering what it is to be British. There is a certain view that these were more innocent times, values held dear, national identity stronger, the positives of this era, which we as a nation like to romanticize (keep calm and carry on) is appearing in various places. America is seeing a similar revival, Rugby Ralph Lauren for example celebrating ivy league university days in the times of JD Salinger’s Franny and Zooey.
Shows on television such as Madmen have obviously influenced designers, but everything comes in cycles, the last tweed revival was in the 70s, at the times that Great Gatsby hit our screens.
Both Movember and the Rugby Tweed run celebrate the moustache, and during Novemeber you see many more around on the streets, have you found people are now more open to growing one, as the stigma attached fades?
Moustaches and beards have been slowly becoming more popular since we opened Murdock in shoreditch. Movember and the Tweed Run have helped push that asthetic, but the revival had been occuring in places like Shoreditch, which always sets the tone in these markets. Men perhaps find the beard comforting, it would be interesting to look at the patterns of when facial hair is popular, from Tom Selleck in the 80s, working backwards.
What are your tips for growing a moustache and maintaining it once grown?
It’s important in the early weeks to persevere and grow a full moustache to a good length, the early weeks it can look a little odd, so during this time don’t be afraid to trim it, as you basically want to encourage density and growth. Then once length is acheived, with a moustache wax you can shave it and define it more clearly. It’s useful to consider what moustache you are trying to grow and how it might suit your face.
How will Murdock be involved with Rugby Ralph Lauren Tweed Run?
We are offering moustache shaping and tweaking on the day in the piazza in Covent Garden, and members of Tweed Run will be popping into the store. We will also be judging best moustache and awarding prizes on the day as we did in New York.