The trends of the past such as barbershops and vintage stores are slowly making a comeback in Philly.
If you’re reading this, you most likely didn’t get to experience much of the 19th or 20th centuries, aside from the 1980s or 1990s. Although technology has swept the current generation, it will never get to see a time like the 1950s, when disco dancing and barbershops were still relevant.
Those who regret not being born a few decades or a century earlier shouldn’t fret. Many timeless shops have been popping up throughout Philly, featuring retro styles.
Francis the Duke Barber Company, located on 1050 N. Hancock St. in Northern Liberties, is straight out of the days of an old-fashioned barbershop. Complete with barber chairs and old-school decor, Francis the Duke is an experience of a different age.
Philadelphia-based owner Steve Miller said he has enjoyed an influx of customers in his second month of business. He said the inspiration of the shop came when he decided the current neighborhood was lacking something.
“When people think of a barbershop, they only connect it with the initial service,” Miller said. “We are paying homage to the old barbershops. We’re [young guys] though and modern, so we’re more focused on what timeless means to us.”
“My grandpa would laugh if I said I had a traditional barber shop,” he added.
William Brown, a barber of Francis the Duke Barber Company and a fifth generation barber, said much of the business comes from people’s curiosity.
“Barbershops aren’t readily available to guys,” Brown said. “The sense of nostalgia they get from it is very satisfying.”
Miller also said much of the interest in the shop may be based on the nostalgia factor in its own right.
“In a time of economic crisis people want a comfort level and to take fewer risks,” Miller said. “Fashion turns itself down. [Some looks don’t] work out when you need to do 10 job interviews.”
“The retro lifestyle is a challenged remove from modern life, and you can have it here,” Miller said. “When you come here you can turn off your phone, have a complimentary beer and just have a conversation.”
Barbershops aren’t the only part of a nostalgic culture making a comeback, however. Vintage clothing stores have become more popular throughout Philadelphia in recent years.
Astro Vintage on 720 S. Fifth St. brings the best of the 1940s through 1980s in one organized shop that is more like a boutique than a regular vintage shop, which makes entering the boutique like a time travel into four different decades.
“Customer’s general reaction to the shop is a sense of nostalgia,” Astro Vintage owner Karin Tyburczy said. “People will see something in the shop and think, ‘my mom or aunt had this.’”
She also said many shoppers have developed a love for vintage because of the increasing popularity of recycling and the urge to become more environmentally friendly.
As Tyburczy’s own passion for vintage developed in her middle school years, she described her favorite fashion style as the early 1950s vintage with feminine skirts, hats and gloves.
Tyburczy said she handpicks all of the pieces that are sold in the store, and although she said she may not wear everything, she likes it all.
Vintage enthusiast and sophomore university studies major Allison Ripa said the real enjoyment in vintage is the resort back to the past.
“Just flipping through Vogue, you’ll see that designers are borrowing from all different eras,” Ripa said. “I think people long for those simpler times of years ago.”
Tyburczy said there is still much room in Philadelphia for shops that bring memories of the past.
“Everyone has different tastes and there are so many stores that have different things to bring to the table,” Tyburczy said. “It’s not so much a competition but a family.”
“People revert back to what their dad or granddad wore,” Miller added. “Sure, people like to be pampered, but at the end of the day they’ll go back to the old style.”
Although Ripa said her favorite part of vintage shopping is the fashion, the importance of the experience remains.
“When one is distracted by all the technology that surrounds them today, stepping into a barber shop or a vintage clothes shop slips them out of their current reality into one much simpler,” she said.
Danielle Miess can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.