PLACE TO WATCH – SCHOREM BARBER
It’s a place where men stick to themselves. No bullshit – women are not allowed to set foot in Rotterdam’s most talked about barbershop. Dogs (and bitches) however are…
Schorem is an old school barbershop located in the heart of Rotterdam, where gentlemen are groomed by (tattooed) gentlemen in white coats, where a promise still is a promise, and where time stands still. At least for the duration of a trim.
It probably is the only place on earth where men voluntarily stand in line and wait hours to be served (first come, first serve policy – the queue in front of the shop is legendary). Why? Because rumor has it that the world’s finest barbers work at Schorem.
The shop’s concept is simple and effective. No-fuss, no-frills, no trends, no fashion. Just classic cuts that have proven themselves over decades (there is a limited selection of styles to pick from, with a straight forward price list: Cut €33, Shave €33, Cut & Shave €61), a high focus on craftsmanship and a lot of rock ‘n’ roll.
We have talked to co-owner Robert Rietveld and asked him a particularly dumb question…
Schorem is all about the experience. It is about going back in time, about embracing traditions, about escaping from today’s insecurities, choices and information overflow. It goes without saying – the barbering is exquisite.
WTL: Which three words sum up what SCHOREM stands for?
RR: Sanctuary. Community. Craftsmanship.
WTL: How would you describe the signature of your work?
RR: Downright ruthless old school barbering.
WTL: Can you tell us about the concept behind SCHOREM and how you came up with it?
RR: Schorem is a men-only traditional barbershop, no concept. It’s not a place we wanted, it was a place that was needed, as the traditional barbershops were a dying breed. We tried to create a the place WE wanted to go to.
WTL: You have clients, of course only men and dogs, coming from all over the world. What was the craziest story so far?
RR: The craziest story is unfortunately a very, very sad one. A father brought his son in to have a cut and shave at Schorem because it was one of the things on his Bucket list, he had a great time, and three days later he passed away. Both Leen and me were in tears when the old man paid us a visit to thank us.
WTL: Talking about dogs – do they get a special treatment?
RR: Nobody gets a “special” treatment because in Schorem everybody is the same, whether you’re a street musician playing for dimes or the mayor so dogs get a bowl of water or a beer if he’s older than 18 (in dog years that is).
WTL: In a dream world, whom would you want to have as a customer?
RR: Dumb question… Elvis Aaron Presley of course…
WTL: What’s your fascination with the 50’s?
RR: We just love rockabilly music and it’s subculture, but it’s not just the 50’s, we love artwork from the 20’, jazz, Art Deco, but also the Psychobilly music from the 80’ or 70’ punk, Kustom Kulture… For us music is the backbone of the shop.
WTL: How do you explain the incredible success of your time-travel?
RR: Being in the right, place at the right time, work hard, party harder and DOCUMENT it so people see and hear your story and talk about it.
WTL: Craftsmanship is key… What are the requirements to become a SCHOREM barber?
RR: Again, work hard, party harder… A good barber is not the guy who does a perfect haircut but he who keeps his patrons for life, don’t get me wrong, they have to train their asses off to become as skilled as they can be but a good barber needs to have that very special social skill to feel how the patron wants to be treated that day, when to crack that joke or when to shut up.
WTL: You and your work are not at all about fashion & trends. How do you see the current hype about men, tattoos and beards?
RR: It’s not a trend or hype as we see it, it’s guys wanting to have a perfect cut and that’s something they forgot about. Men want to be men again and off course there’s guys that are only into it because it’s “the new thing” which is fine. We don’t do fashion, we do style so the guys with the right attitude will always find their way to the barbershop.
WTL: What kind of treatments do SCHOREM customers get and how long is the average treatment?
RR: We offer our classic and signature haircuts and hot towel shaves for 33 euro’s each or the combo for 61 euro’s. A cut will take about 45 minutes, a shave around 20/30 minutes.
WTL: Can you tell us a bit about THE OLD SCHOOL?
RR: We got questions about training almost everyday from around the world but we just didn’t have the time or space so we opened a little barber academy called “The Old School” where we offer courses for both beginners as well as experienced barbers and hairdressers.
WTL: What would be your advice to someone who wants to start a career as a barber?
RR: Be patient, it will not come to you in a few weeks, barbering is about practice, just try to be a better man (or woman) than the day before… NEVER let your ego get in the way of your clients, you should be there for the people, barbering is a humble job.
WTL: What was the best advice someone ever gave you?
RR: Eat your veggies, my mother.
WTL: What are a true gentleman’s most significant character traits?
RR: He puts more into the world than he takes out.
WTL: Do you think that young man today still have a gentleman’s set of values?
RR: Well, I hope so… I think it’s the parent’s job to teach them those values and morals and above all respect but the world has changed because of the internet and media. But again, you have to want to be a gentleman, I hope the kids will feel and see the rewards of being one.
WTL: How important is social media for you personally and for your work?
RR: I don’t really do a lot with my personal social media but for the shop it’s one of the most important parts of my job, the world has changed and you have to realize that people take photo’s of your shop and cuts, throwing selfies on the net so you HAVE to interact with your clients because the world has gotten so small because off the internet. You don’t just cut the client in your chair, you’re telling a story to people around the world.
WTL: What was your first tattoo?
RR: The Cancer sign, which is funny because I’m a Libra.
WTL: Who is your favorite tattoo artist?
RR: Daan Verbruggen owner of Namakubi Tattoo, currently working at The Inkstitution in Rotterdam. He’s been one my best friends for over 20 years and he’s working on my body suit.
WTL: If you could to tell us a story you have never told before, what would it be?
RR: There’s a reason I haven’t told those stories, so I think that’s none of your business…
WTL: Ah, one day we will get someone to answer this question….
WTL: What do you like to do when you are not working?
RR: Spending time with my kids, reading, skateboarding and going to gigs of course.
WTL: What is your favorite band and what music do you listen to?
RR: Pfff, to much to mention, I really, really dig Demented Are Go, but I’m into so many genres, bluegrass, rockabilly, psychobilly, hardcore, punk, metal, stoner and so on, as long as it’s played on real instruments…
WTL: What is your favorite restaurant, bar and club in Rotterdam?
RR: Restaurant: Prachtig / Bar: Tiki’s / Club: Rotown. And of course our annual day of goddamn rock ‘n’ roll… SCUMBASH
WTL: If you could leave us with one thought, what would it be?
RR: A true master is he who mastered the art of always being a student…
“A perfect haircut should fall in place like a well tailored jacket so a dab of Reuzel pomade should do the trick“.
Picture Credit: Jelle Mollema Fotografie