West and Hunter, luxury barbershop opens
A Master Barber with a celebrity following
West and Hunter opened up at 125 Chiswick High Rd on Friday 16 October. It’s a luxury male grooming emporium run by Zamaine Ismail, offering wet shaves, beard and hair trims – haircuts for all hair types – and facials. Forced to close two weeks later for the second national lockdown, Zamaine reopens on Wednesday 2 December.
He is looking to offer an ‘experience’, especially in the run up to Christmas, when he will be offering cigars (which you can’t of course actually smoke on the premises) and a range of drinks in addition to the pampering.
Zamaine himself is a Master Barber who has established himself over the past ten years as a hair stylist whose clients include pop stars and footballers. He has cut the hair of players for Chelsea and Fulham FC and rugby players with Harlequins. The guy in the picture on his website (and below) is Andy Brown, lead singer with Lawson.
This is his first shop and he is looking to establish West and Hunter as a brand. The shop itself, at 125 Chiswick High Rd, (where the Kath Kidston store used to be) is already one of the biggest barbers in London, with over 100 square feet of floor space.
Zamaine deliberately chose premises where there would be room for big comfy sofas where his customers and their families can relax with a coffee, creating more of an atmosphere of a gentlemen’s club than a barbershop. Even the client’s dogs are welcome he says.
He wants his customers to feel that they are getting the very best service, with hot towels, cold towels and luxury brands Balmain Paris and Oliver J Woods providing a range of pre-shave and post-shave products, even down to the smell of the place – subtly scented with Olive J Wood sandalwood and cedar, bergamot and amber.
He emphasises that the single cut-throat blades he uses are sterilised and everything is thoroughly cleaned between services.
He learned his trade initially from his father Abdul Majid, spending time in his father’s barbershop in Morden from when he was quite small. Zamaine sees his father as his inspiration. His brother Samir is also involved, as a business partner.
Having worked in Bond St, Mayfair and on the King’s Rd in Chelsea, Zamaine knows exactly the Gentlemen’s Grooming Club experience he wants to create: “to offer the best in luxury male grooming services… to look pretentious, but not feel pretentious!”
So, invited to kick back and enjoy an ‘experience’ at West and Hunter, to relax with a hot towel and a drink and be ‘styled to perfection’ by a Master Barber, here’s what The Chiswick Calendar’s Matt Smith thought of it.
Image above: Matt Smith gets his haircut (Photo: Alanna McCrum)
“An art form” – not just any old haircut
It looks like a posh restaurant from the outside, which is just the sort of vibe the owner Zamaine Ismail is going for. When I enter the shop, I’m greeted in a friendly, yet professional, manner and shown to black Chesterfield sofas in the waiting area.
This is when Zamaine hands me the “menu” of services that they offer, he then takes the time to sit opposite me to chat about what style I’m thinking of going for today. The consultation is a great ice breaker, there’s nothing worse than sitting in a barber’s chair and being grunted at. I explain the style I usually go for and he gives a bit of feedback, then we move on to the bar.
The bar is in the middle of the shop and it’s where I’m offered a complementary drink while I wait. They have coffee, tea, beer and bottles of still or sparkling water, I went for an espresso. Zamaine is applying for a licence so he can also offer his clients a range of spirits.
After my coffee, the first part of the haircut experience involves getting my hair washed and conditioned, during which, a warm perfumed towel is placed on my face for a few minutes which apparently brings all of the impurities in the skin to the surface to be wiped away.
Images above: Matt Smith getting his hair washed and cut (Photos: Alanna McCrum)
Then we moved onto the haircut itself where the conversation flows pretty easily. Usually, especially when going to a new barber, I find it difficult to strike up a conversation in the chair but since we already had been talking from the consultation, I was much more relaxed and at ease with Zamaine and he seemed genuinely interested in our chat, which is part of the luxury experience after all.
This cut really stands out compared to other haircuts I’ve had in the past, you can tell that skill and care went into it. To Zamaine this is an art form, not just a profession, and it shows.
Images above: Finishing touches and the end product (Photos: Alanna Mccrum)
After the cut, it’s a quick rinse and another hot towel face treatment. Then my hair is styled, and I’m given some tips about what products would work best on my hair (sea salt apparently!) and then we finish off with a spray of cologne, which is a nice finishing touch.
Zamaine hopes that West & Hunter will become a Chiswick institution and I think they have all the important tools to make that a reality. Friendly staff, sharp service, and the ability to transform my horrible lockdown hair into something half-decent to look at.
Tel: 0203 874 7741
Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar
See also: Let Christmas commence!
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