Bevel Campaign Taps Heritage of Black-Owned Barbershops

Global culture largely starts in U.S. -- and ultimately springs from barbershops, says Walker & Co. CEO

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Black-owned barber shops have never been only about a cut and a shave. They've long been central to African-American culture. Now Bevel, a brand that's arguably been trying to cut in on that action, has embraced the barber shop as part of its new Bevel Classics video campaign.

An introductory video for the Bevel Classics series looks at five barbers, iconic haircuts they create for their customers and some of the stories behind them -- which will be explored in greater depth in subsequent videos. While the barbers aren't Bevel endorsers, telling their stories is important to the brand, said Tristan Walker, CEO of Walker & Co. Brands.

The new video series aims to update and bring new life to the age-old "style guide" posters that grace the walls of thousands of barber shops, but it also looks to tap into the cultural significance of barbershops. "All global culture is led by American culture, which is led by Black-Latino culture in the U.S. That culture actually starts in the barbershop," Mr. Walker said.

"If you walk into any kind of barber shop, you always see this style guide with these numbered haircuts, and it hasn't been updated forever," Mr. Walker said. "Our ability to really reimagine that experience and start a conversation about it I think is important."

That means getting into the stories of customers who've worn the same haircut for years, and posting the question why. It means getting into the origin of the Afro in the 1950s and '60s, or talking about the half-moon part that Mr. Walker said one of his firm's investors pioneered years ago.

Barbers could see Bevel's products aimed at African-American and other men with coarse, curly beards cutting into their shave business. But Mr. Walker said, "We're not going to displace the barber shop. It's an institution that's culturally important. Our customers are going to go to the barbershop every Saturday. But we're here to take care of them from Sunday to Saturday."

Making barbers and barbershops central to the brand also makes sense on at least a couple of levels.

"Barbers recommend products, and people listen and believe them, because they're trusted advisers," Mr. Walker said. "We want to partner with barbers to help them evangelize the Bevel brand not only for the razors but for products to come."

Getting into the barbershop also helps give Bevel permission to expand into other product categories, though Mr. Walker isn't saying exactly which just yet.

Raquel Lachman, Bevel's brand marketing leader, led the effort behind the video alongside Creative Director Mari Sheibley and videographer J.M. Harper.

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