Meet the man living the legacy of Mr Cobbs and his legendary barbershop, Bob Lansdowne.
How long has Mr Cobbs, the Barber been around for?
The shop was founded in 1850 by Mr Cobbs, a barber way back in the Victorian era. He was a perfumer, and a well-respected one, in London at the time. All of the handles you see on the grooming brushes today are still made in England and only for traveling purposes are they assembled here in South Africa.
What inspired you to open a barbershop like this?
This is just a small tip of the iceberg; we do much more than simply cut people’s hair. The majority of our business resonates around the handmade products, which we have been operating since 1770. We sell thousands of handcrafted brushes, perfumes and even the clothing items that you see in the store. Over the years, we started to go overseas and collect these items to bring them back to the shop. Some of these brushes are more than 150 years old.
How does a business set in the Victorian times find its place in a modern world?
It has to do with the history of the company and how people like to buy into something that has traditional quality and credibility. These products can be passed down from generation to generation because of the amount of work that goes into making them. An example would be the wild boar-hair brush, where the crafter has to sit and string about 200 hairs through the holes to make the bristly side of the hairbrush.
What are some of the grooming products used to make a man feel like a gentleman?
We have a selection of razors handmade from Victorian ivory that took weeks to put together (one swipe with that and you are instantly taken back to old London), but it’s not just about the grooming when you come to the barbershop. It is also about the quality and experience you get when you walk through the door.
What has been your ultimate success as a barber of this shop?
People fly in from different destinations to see for themselves what the shop is all about and experience the uniqueness of it. I mean, this is one of the most photographed shops in the city. A bunch of celebrities from all walks of life come to the shop, whether it be film stars or rugby players, and have continued to do so over the years and they are generally nice people. Everyone has to have their haircut; we are just really privileged to have them pick us every time.