As we’ve mentioned a few times here, businesses in Hoboken tend to come in waves. One year it’s bowl-a-mania, the next it’s toast with everything. And a few years ago it was barbershops, but specifically barbershops that sought to bring back old-school cool, with classic setups, straight-razors, hot towels, and other things designed to pry lazy, unkempt men out of Supercuts and into their retro environs.
I’m a guy who grew up in traditional barbershops; until my college years I got my haircut by a diminutive Italian man in Jersey City, and as a flailing, grooming- and fashion-challenged young adult I usually went wherever was cheapest, resulting in some truly shocking haircuts. For a while I convinced myself that a bad haircut just added to my off-center charm, but looking back I think they just made me crazy.
Hoboken is currently something of a paradise for men’s haircuts; there are more than a dozen spots where a man can confidently stroll in and get a professional cut for a decent price, depending on what they’re looking for. Here’s a quick overview of your haircut options in this town.
Old Old School
These spots could be transplanted back to 1975 and no one would notice, which doesn’t mean you can’t get a fresh new cut there.
If you’ve been in Hoboken a while you know this spot has more or less always been a barbershop, and it looks much the same as it did 10-20 years ago—which is a good thing. Markdaniel are part of the new breed of barbers, but they run their shop like an old school barber. It’s best to make an appointment; walk-ins aren’t exactly turned away but you can wind up waiting a looong time.
Dominick & Vincent’s has been at 1032 Washington Street for decades, and still has that old charm about the place. It can be a bit erratic with its hours, but stepping into it offers a sort of neighborhood/club feel that you don’t get in a lot of the newer spots.
This small shop at 55 1st Street has all the trappings of a classic barbershop, though their service menu is a bit limited. Still, their cuts are among the lowest-priced and they do a great job generally. If you’re looking for a chatty, friendly cut experience, this is your spot.
Along with Mr. L’s, Gino’s at 363 1st Street is the Oldest of the Old School spots in town. A lot of people grew up getting their hair cut at Gino’s, and it still has that vaguely mediciney smell of the past swirling around in there. But if your goal is a classic haircut, you can’t do better.
Mr. L Hair Creations
A family place that’s been in operation for so long literally everyone who’s ever lived here knows about it, Mr. L’s has a passionate following. It’s cheap, it’s friendly, and it’s no-nonsense, though if you pick the wrong moment you’ll find a horde of kids getting trimmed in there. You won’t get a drink or a thumping dubstep beat here, but you’ll get a fine haircut.
Hair I Am
With a name like that, how can you resist? This is a small shop at 461 5th Street with just one guy giving the cuts. He’s been around forever and has quite a following, but because it’s just him walk-ins aren’t recommended. Nothing fancy here, just a classic cut done well.
New Old School
These spots bring the classic look and feel of a barbershop plus a vibrant, modern attitude and services menu.
Located at 605 Adams, Stag’s Only is, as it’s name might imply, meant for guys only. The environment is cool and funky and the barbers have modern skills with an old-school attitude. They used to offer an awesome Hangover Treatment involving hot towels and moisturizer treatments, but it seems to be gone from the menu of services, which is unfortunate.
At 1114 Washington, V’s has the formula down pat: Exposed brick, old-school barber chairs, straight razors and hot towels, TV’s on the walls and music in the air. Sometimes it’s a party in there. The appointments work flawlessly but they’re really good with walk-ins, too.
This is the downtown location (the other is on 14th street and is geared towards men, women, and children more or less equally) which is men’s cuts only. It’s small but efficiently laid out and offers relatively affordable cuts done very well.
Yup, this used to be Rooster’s, the oddly-named chain of men’s barbershops, but they closed and Hoboken Barbershop rose from the ashes as a unisex spot. The owner, Joe, has been cutting hair in town for years now and has quite a following. It’s also got some of the most beautiful barber chairs in town.
These places aren’t exactly old-school or new-school, they’re sort of their own thing.
Supercuts is a different experience for everybody. Leaning more towards the salon side of things, you can absolutely get a decent men’s cut in here—and for cheap—but your experience will vary a great deal depending on who you get, because there isn’t a clear focus on old-school barbering (although you can ask for a barber cut). They also tend to push product on you, which is either helpful or annoying.
Located at 1150 Maxwell Lane, this place is styled like a cigar bar and combines classic services with a modern approach. This is a good place to go if you’re extremely picky about your grooming and want an elegant, high-end feel to your surroundings. Most importantly, they do all the stuff you need them to do and they do it well.
Mike’s Hair Design
This spot at 700 Willow has been in business for decades now—he was once partners over at Mr. L’s before striking out on his own. The curb appeal is lacking, but the cut is solid and reasonably priced.
For the Youths
Younger guys have different needs from the old fogeys, and these places offer the right skill set and the right attitude.
At 303 1st Street, Trim is cheap and buzzing with energy. The barbers are pros and can handle anything you need, but the atmosphere is definitely youthful, so if you’re a middle-aged guy just looking for a standard cut you might not fit in, though your hair will look fine.
Spesh at 932 Washington is 100% modern, youthful, and high-energy. It’s a fun atmosphere, and geared towards guys who view their hair not as an annoying thing they have to deal with but as an extension of their style and fashion sense. If that’s you, head on over, just be prepared for the loud and boisterous atmosphere.
At 453 5th Street, this is an ideal spot for younger guys who aren’t looking for a simple haircut, but have some slightly more particular needs. Make an appointment; it can be tough to just walk in.
Located at 526 Jefferson, we’re not sure anyone’s ever gotten a cut there. It’s a tiny spot that always seems closed. A little help?