With the release of the new The Great Gatsby movie, the Roaring ’20s are making a full-fledged comeback, even in the corner of America known as Portland, Oregon. Walking in the door of the vintage barbershop, The Modern Man, visitors will leave behind the hustle and bustle of the digital era and enter into another era. “My bet is that they will never have visited a shop like ours before and that’s what we want,” said The Modern Man founder Chris Espinoza. A time when flappers roamed the streets smoking cigarettes, jazz was king, and speakeasys were the place to be during the Prohibition Era. “This is where a kid becomes a man,” said barber Chase Danielle.
The Modern Man opened its doors in 2011, with two locations in town on Alberta Street and Hawthorne Boulevard, and will soon be opening a third location in June on Mississipi Avenue. Owner Chris Espinoza tells Untapped, “I was raised by antique dealers, so it definitely influenced me a lot. I wanted a barbershop to be an extension of who I am and how I grew up. The 1920s era happened to be one I was particularly interested in.” The upstairs is what barber Chase Danielle calls “Every man’s wet dream,” the Whiskey Room, where clients can top off their haircut with a complimentary beverage from an assortment of over 50 different whiskeys and scotches.
Both the upstairs and downstairs look like an old boys’ club with deer, elk, ram, and buffalo heads hanging from the walls and even a bear rug lying on the floor under a table. Vintage photos of highbrow men in suits and ties hang on every corner of the room and stare down at the clients. The mustache is definitely king of the castle at The Modern Man and serves as their logo plastered on every moustache wax bottle.
Four smiling gents welcome clients to slip into one of their four sleek black leather chairs. The barbers are lined up like butlers from Downton Abbey, ready to attend your every need and make you into a Lord Grantham or Matthew Crawley. Today everyone is mad for Mad Men with many Portlanders wanting to look like Don Draper and Roger Sterling. “Signature cuts are going to be similar at most barbershops. We do get a wide variety, but we get a lot of requests for Mad Men style cuts and prohibition era cuts,” said Espinoza. Both ladies and gents are welcomed–ladies can get a clipper cut or “short man’s haircut.”
The Modern Man is a perfect fit for Portland’s dapper lifestyle and the response from Portlanders has been well liked and supported. “From what people tell us, it’s something Portland has been needing for a while. A place for men with substance. We saw that there was no one filling that need, so we wanted to apply for the job. The response has been overwhelming. By June we’ll have opened three shops in under two years and created forty jobs. That’s a lot of growth. Thanks for giving us a shot, Portland!” said Espinoza.