The Library Barbers club of Southsea
by B Thornton- Harwood
Opening its doors just four months ago The Library Barbers Club of Southsea has taken the stylish Portsmouth town by storm, delivering the highest quality in service and good old fashioned gents grooming.
Josh C. Smith’s vision of the classic barbers, with the added elegance and personal touch of a top London salon has brought a breath of fresh air to the Southsea scene. I took a seat in the chair for a trim and to talk about his first business venture.
At just 24 years Josh has been a professional hairdresser for the past 7 years, starting his apprenticeship in Chichester Josh went on to work in London at the L’Oreal studio while entering competitions in the Capital. Since then Josh has decided to come back down south and open up the Barbers Club in the city he calls home.
After looking into both London and Brighton Josh decided Portsmouth was where he should set up shop; “London would’ve been great but it’s hard to be different. Here it’s something new and fresh, it fits the bill so well. I knew this is what I wanted my place to look like. I looked at Brighton too, but it all added up to come home.
“I think the Southsea scene is a huge part in my initial success. It fits in with the Southsea lifestyle and I couldn’t have asked for a better response. It’s exactly what the town needed I think, and I’ve been quite lucky really. I hate the word, but the trendy lot is who first came in, but I’m now getting the older gents, wanting the classic cuts and services like my hot towel shave.”
My time in the shop is different to many other salons on the south coast, Josh’s personaltouches like offering me a coffee or beer on arrival, to remembering my last haircut and twitter handle through which I booked the appointment, stick out in my mind as a chap who not only delivers high quality grooming but actually cares about the customers of his now thriving business- which can be no mean feat. Before I know it an hour has passed in a blur of chit-chat from co-attended music festivals and HBO programming, but there’s never a rush in Southsea.
“The slower pace of the Library Barbers is definitely to do with Southsea, you couldn’t get this chilled and laid back in London. That why I call it The Barbers Club, I’m not a salon or in-out talcum powder barbers shop. I have something better than that here- this is a Club where likeminded gents can get their hair cut, you know?”
The shop obviously sits well with today’s trends in male hair and grooming, the side partings, big quiffs and slick backs, the inspiration Josh says coming from the timeless cuts of the 1920s.
“The 20-30s hairstyles have always been a huge influence on me- my first ever competition entry was a bowl cut. A lot of it seems to be stemming from Boardwalk Empire, and the likes of The Arctic Monkeys and even Joey Barton. It’s good to me cos it’s what I want to cut and better than the 90s cuts. Barton loves a quiff and The Smiths and that sort of scene, Alex Turner- his hair is ridiculous at the moment! That huge ducks arse is sick. The same goes for Jimmy Darmody, the severe sides and back is so simple and just so cool.
“In terms of the future, granted at the minute we got the quiffs and slicks, but there’s never any cuts that are in or out of fashion, people can get away with a lot more now and do what they want with their hair, gone are the days of French crops and highlighted tips. In terms of what’s next I honestly can’t say, but the traditional cuts are going to stay for a long while now they’re never going to stop looking cool.”
The Library barbers is currently a one man band but Josh isn’t ruling out expanding the Club, but it must stay true to his mission statement to bring traditional practices back to the South coast.
“My brother helps with publicity and so on, but it’s just me in the shop, I’m getting really busy and booked up which is nice. Before anything else though I want people to know me and my service first and then I can start to ingrain those methods onto other hairdressers.
I do want to expand; I’ve thought about Chichester or Brighton, or a unisex Library too and adapting it to a full salon. Whatever happens I will make sure it’s a success.”