Articles > Men's > Beyond the Barber’s Chair: David Raccuglia on The Rise of Men’s Grooming, Inclusivity & The Future of Fundamentals
Last updated: September 15, 2023

Beyond the Barber’s Chair: David Raccuglia on The Rise of Men’s Grooming, Inclusivity & The Future of Fundamentals

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Photo courtesy of American Crew

David Raccuglia Talks Men’s Grooming From The ’90s To Now

One of the most diversely educated people in the hair industry, American Crew Founder David Raccuglia sat down with BTC to talk all things men’s trends, industry-specific shifts and of course, the dynamic influence this household name brand transcended across men’s grooming worldwide. 


From photographing portraits for some of the most artistic names in the world (Ray Charles, Jack Nicholson, James Brown—just to name a few) to creating a men’s grooming brand that is a barbershop and salon staple, David is no stranger to this industry’s illustrious pathways. From the men’s category climbing to the leaderboard of our industry’s top performers to what defines today’s “trend” buzzword in men’s grooming—keep scrolling for a real look into an iconic corner of the hair industry. 


Men’s Grooming Is The #1 Fastest Growing Category In Beauty

“I keep reading about this and it doesn’t surprise me,” says David. “Grooming today is an incredibly accepted, almost expected category for men.”


Early on in American Crew, David shares that his team found resistance in men to share their grooming tips or talk about what grooming felt like. “That wasn’t something that people wanted to address,” he explains. “Now, go sit at a bar with a group of guys and they’re all bragging about their hair! Talking about products and the best shave they can get with the right beard product.”


Proudly, David reminisces on the shift in society that happened slowly, then all at once—giving men’s grooming the long-awaited “cool factor” it now has today in our culture. This sliding perspective doesn’t happen overnight, and this industry-changing story cannot exist without Crew. Since the beginning of Crew, the term “boundaries” didn’t exist in the brand’s vocabulary, under David’s leadership. Education, pucks and product development, campaign influence and professional barbering have been elevated by the brand in a way that felt sexy, cool and important—something the everyday man wants to have a piece of.


How ’90s Grunge Transformed The Men’s Grooming Conversation

Today’s society is chronically online. For women’s hair and beauty, we’re faced with a constantly-changing list of micro-trends that flash in and out under different cheeky names. Wolf cuts, bixies, expensive brunettes, glazed skin, the list goes on. But that hasn’t always been a conversation in the men’s category.


There has historically been a disconnect between reference, suitability and where “trends” fit into the picture. David recalls a shift in the ’90s when “A lot of cool celebs that had incredibly cool hair were in rock bands or musicians,” he explains. “It always starts with music.” Kurt Cobain, Jared Leto, The Strokes—David actually photographed the latter two, seen in his expansive portfolio—set the tone for this era.


Aside from product alone, David explains that the shift in more natural-looking men’s styles has inturn changed the barbering industry. The weekly-to-bi-weekly standing appointments for a clean up rarely exist anymore. 


Check out this behind-the-scenes moment of David shooting American Crew’s newest AC-iD collections:


Photo courtesy of American Crew


What Makes A Men’s Haircut Trendy Today?

“A trend is something that I think could be trendy like an ice cream cone in July. It tastes great, but it melts fast and you’re still hungry after,” David explains. “When you really look at it, a trend is something that stands out to withstand the test of time and continues to stay.” Making sense of, not ignoring, the trend space our modern world lives in has become a critical part of a thriving career in social industries like hairdressing.


David, of anyone, understands the need to stay current without losing sight of foundational skills, morals or in some cases, personal identity. “To me, there is always a nod to the past. Futuristic hair, although gorgeous, is really only seen in avant-garde or runway—for the everyday guy, we look for a wearable look that can elevate a grooming routine as opposed to wearable that just fits into a certain group.”


Another big factor in trends coming and going in men’s grooming David says is the societal norms of men’s appearance. “A lot of men in the ’70s had lots of short hair in the back and thinning on the top because that’s just what they had! Whereas today, you can shave your head instead and look amazing.” The same goes for facial features, David says, “A lot of styles now fill out men’s facial features. Beards have come into play very, very stylishly. From five o’clock shadows to on-the-chin/off-the-chin beards, you could add like three inches to someone’s features.” 


“I’m projecting a lot of new stuff, I think we’re going to see sideburns coming back,” he begins .”It’s interesting because trends have become classics. Things that were considered very trendy ten years ago are just the norm in barbershops and salons now.”


“Of course, now, we dialed those shapes for every texture,” he explains. “We’ve moved from very rigid, grooved hair to messy. The shift happened about ten years ago, a time when men were really loving the clipper.” “They were loving going to the barbershop every week to every two weeks and just doing what men did for decades.” 


“And in the end, we’ve just collected and gathered all these styles—it’s pretty hard to define,” David says as a reminder that physical trends will never outweigh self-expression and creativity. 


Photo courtesy of American Crew


How To Pitch New Changes To Your Nervous Clients

We asked David what his advice would be to a stylist or barber who is looking to elevate their client’s look who is uninterested in change. “What I find interesting is a lot of guys buy a coat because it’s cold—those men also get a haircut because their hair grew,” he explains. “But you gotta get them to understand they can “get warm” and look cool.” 

“Maybe it’s going shorter or longer, or getting them to understand weight distribution in their hair. If a stylist can inspire them with what they’d like to achieve, you’re going to see you’ll convert someone into understanding that YOU can make THEM look better,” he continues. “Whatever it is, it takes a dialogue and it takes an expert who truly cares about elevating their client’s look.”


Catering To Diversity As A Brand: Inclusion Vs. Expansion

For nearly thirty years, American Crew has been a brand that caters to men’s grooming—it’s that simple. The inclusion of hair textures, lengths, types, etc. has never been an afterthought or an “expanded line” of products for the brand. American Crew is for men’s grooming, no matter what that looks like. 


“Some of these products being almost thirty years old is one of the reasons I take so much pride in American Crew,” says David. “Our ten pucks truly cover all textures, lengths, ages, whatever you’re looking for in your style.” “We have things like ‘the perfect white t-shirt’ in our brand, but we also have real people who are not perfect models that hit the sweet spot of today’s people using American Crew for today’s trends.”



It wouldn’t be a true BTC-style interview without getting the expert’s opinion on what is ahead for American Crew and men’s grooming. We asked if there was anything we could look forward to from Crew in 2024 and David delivered. 


“We’re working on our newest collections right now, and we have some new products coming down the line that we’re very, very excited about,” David says. “We have a new education nomenclature that we’re doing that is very much unlike a University level. We’re kind of categorizing our education into different protocols for salons to understand that we’re expanding the journey of men’s grooming.”

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