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Thursday, Aug 22, 2019

Pakistani men go metrosexual, opt for expensive grooming treatments at male salons

The metrosexual trend is catching up in Pakistan as men focus on grooming themselves, and opting for expensive facials, mani-pedis and acne treatments. It is fuelled by a growth in per capita income and men wanting to be selfie-ready at any point of time.

fashion-and-trends Updated: Feb 23, 2018 12:41 IST

Agence France-Presse
A male hairdresser working with a customer at a men's salon in Islamabad.
A male hairdresser working with a customer at a men's salon in Islamabad. (AFP)
         

Nails are buffed, blackheads scrubbed, and coffee sipped to the sound of clipping scissors inside the “Men’s” salon in Pakistan’s capital Islamabad, where a growing number of male patrons are set on revamping their style. Deeply conservative Pakistan has strict notions of masculinity where men are often expected to be austere and flamboyant styling is to be avoided.

But savvy entrepreneurs in urban centres have latched on to a new metrosexual trend: male beauty salons. While women in urban Pakistan have long enjoyed access to the care of beauticians and stylists, expensive facials and mani-pedis for men are becoming more common as disposable incomes in the nation’s swelling middle class grow — per capita income jumped by 6.4% in 2017.

A male hairdresser blow-drying a customer's hair at a men's salon in Islamabad.
A male hairdresser blow-drying a customer's hair at a men's salon in Islamabad. ( AFP )

A vibrant social media culture has also fuelled the desire to be selfie-ready at any time, with influencers like Adnan Malik and Osman Khalid Butt attracting hundreds of thousands of followers with their fashion-conscious posts. At Tauseeq Haider’s “Men’s” salon, customers usually fork out a minimum of Rs 1,400 for a visit — a far cry from the Rs 200 spent at traditional barber shops.

“Men have an equal right to be groomed and times have changed. It’s no more about just getting your hair cut,” says Haider. “Senior citizens, bureaucrats... they don’t feel ashamed of saying that I need a facial, a massage, my nails need to be done,” he adds.

A growing number of male patrons are set on revamping their style.
A growing number of male patrons are set on revamping their style. ( AFP )

In rural Pakistan, men have traditionally taken their fashion tips from Islamic dictates, with the Koran specifying the length of the beard and moustache along with hygiene guidelines. And in the cities, Bollywood and Western entertainment have long driven fashion trends for conscientious groomers. But times are changing in the rapidly developing South Asian nation, with social media setting and wrecking trends in urban centres at the speed of a swipe.

According to Lebanese salon owner Michael Kanaan, who has been based in Pakistan for more than a decade, rising wages and greater exposure to global culture is fanning the demand. “The Pakistan male is becoming metrosexual. It is due to the internet and the age of satellites and TVs,” says Kanaan.

Economist Minhajul Haque agrees, and says that Pakistani men are also subjected to a new slew of online advertising campaigns that have reinforced the trend. “There is a lot of clever marketing of male beauty products which is spurring demand,” he explains.

Humayun Khan, 49, says he is fine with spending more money to look good and his wife is supportive of the new passion. “I... get my nails done, a haircut, and a facial and I am done for the day. After two weeks, I come again,” he says. “If I don’t look good, my wife wouldn’t like me,” he laughs.

Nails are buffed, blackheads scrubbed and coffee sipped to the sound of clipping scissors inside the "Men's" salon in Pakistan's capital Islamabad.
Nails are buffed, blackheads scrubbed and coffee sipped to the sound of clipping scissors inside the "Men's" salon in Pakistan's capital Islamabad. ( AFP )

Stylist Ghulfam Ghori says Pakistani men are more concerned with skincare, opting for blackhead removal, acne treatments and even the occasional brush with makeup before major events like weddings. “Men are very conscious about their skin now... and consider it essential to get facials. Previously, it was not common, but now the trend is increasing among men to get themselves groomed,” says Ghori. But it’s not just the salons that are cashing in on Pakistani men’s blossoming cosmopolitan predilections.

Zafar Bakhtawari, chairman of the D Watson Group, one of Pakistan’s biggest pharmacy chains, explains:”I can say there is a revolution coming up in Pakistan in the male psyche. They are becoming conscious about their beauty, their face, their hair, and their dress. It’s a great revolution.”

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First Published: Feb 23, 2018 12:00 IST

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