The straight edge razor has experienced somewhat of a renaissance in the past decade. They were, it would seem, always a bit of niche product. Razor maintenance–such as honing and stropping–often necessitated professional training, and the act of shaving itself required great skill. Because of these barriers to entry, so to speak, shaving became a specialized trade left to experts. The invention of the safety/disposable razor further diminished the status of the straight razor: the Gillette was (initially) cheap and had a shallow learning curve.
Things have changed. Shopping malls are now lined with storefronts that house The Art of Shaving and their ilk. I’ve not been able to come to any satisfying conclusion as to the causation of their comeback. Some suggest its financial: while the disposable razor costs thousands of dollars over its lifetime, the straight razor can cost as little as a hundred or so. Then there’s the luxury of it: it’s impossible, many say, to replicate the closeness of that blade running across your skin. Finally, there’s its aesthetic properties: many designate the straight razor as both “manly” and “hipster.” Those two aren’t so mutually exclusive: as a man’s investment in one’s looks risks his rendering as effete, the straight razor could provide a supplement that restores the performance of masculinity.
Regardless of their genealogy, Alex Jacques is among those artisans propelling the straight razor’s unpredicted rise. I have to say: Alex’s razors are truly something to behold. Alex’s razors, however, are not only functional—Alex, after all, started as an enthusiast interested in better methods of shaving—but also intricate pieces of metalwork. The fine ridges along the side of one blade apes the rings of a tree’s interior. It’s gorgeous.
You can find more information about Alex and his work here: