The moustache business has been thriving at a traditional barber shop in Mount Pleasant, thanks to Movember and the changing face of the area.
Mount Pleasant recently became the youngest neighbourhood in Vancouver, with an average age of 35.9, according to the 2011 census. The arrival of a demographic with a propensity for awkward facial hair, combined with a fundraising campaign that has popularized the hirsute look, has meant a slow but steady bonanza for the Belmont Barbershop .
“Every year, it’s getting bigger and bigger, and, in here especially, people are asking us more questions,” said Paul Donnici, a barber at the Belmont on East Broadway.
The neighbourhood even celebrates the hairy event with a charity event at the Biltmore, where men show off their growth in a best-moustache competition at the end of the November campaign month.
Stylings of the past
The Belmont, which has the look of a traditional 1930s man cave, caters to people of all ages, but a large proportion of the clientele are young. And not all of those young people know the finer points of mancare.
Men growing moustaches in support of Movember, a campaign to raise money and awareness for prostate cancer and men’s health issues, are turning to the Belmont for guidance on how to style and maintain them.
One of the more popular items is moustache wax, as the young seek to emulate the style of an older generation.
“There are certainly a lot more men who will wax the tips and curl the ends than there were five to 10 years ago, because guys are into that old style,” said Rich Hope, another Belmont barber.
But the barbers are also dealing with men who are sporting moustaches for the first time and are not quite sure what to do with their newfound lip sweaters.
Donnici’s advice for those not looking to try anything fancy with their moustache is simple.
“Keep it clean, and make sure there’s no food stuck in it.”
Raising money and awareness
Movember started in 2004 in Melbourne, Australia and has since become a global phenomenon.
There are a variety of moustaches on display in Mount Pleasant, worn for a variety of reasons. Some grow their moustaches with co-workers to raise money, some to raise awareness, and others sport them all year round.
For Richard Carter, spotted with a moustache near the infamous Kingsgate shopping mall, the facial hair is about raising awareness for men’s prostate cancer, a disease that has affected several men in his family.
And Nigel Blondeau, a third-year UBC law student caught in the vicinity of the coffeeshops at 10th and Main, is growing his with other law students to raise awareness for men’s health issues.
“It’s kind of a win-win to grow one. You raise money for a good cause, and you get to attempt to grow a moustache,” said Blondeau.
For Kris Wiggins, found strolling near Mount Pleasant’s heritage hall at 15th, it’s his third year participating in Movember. He hopes it brings some awareness to men’s health issues in general.
A community affair
At the end of November, when all the moustaches are fully grown, men can go to the Biltmore Cabaret in Mount Pleasant to shave them off. Vancouver band Redbird is hosting the 4th Annual Mo-off there, with a contest – judged by women in attendance – for the best moustache.
“We get all the men on stage and the crowd cheers for their favourite,” said Savannah Leigh Wellman, the event’s main organizer.
Last year, the event raised $1,200 for Movember Canada out of the $42 million raised nationally.
Trying out ‘Mo Yoga’
Last year, over $42 million was raised in Canada during Movember. According to Peter Verge, co-chair of Movember Canada for Vancouver, the group is hoping to do even better this year.
And not only with fundraising, they want to start getting people together to talk about men’s health issues.
Movember Canada is holding Move Events in different neighbourhoods in Vancouver to get people to participate in healthy activities like basketball, hiking and yoga – or as Verge described it – Mo Yoga.
“We’re not just moustaches, we’re about talking the talk and walking the walk and being healthy,” said Verge.