10-16-2017, 08:18 PM
#1
  • bullgoose
  • The Enabler
  • Redondo Beach, California, U.S.A
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There is no denying that the wet shaving community and wet shaving market is vastly different than it was 10 years ago. Some of the changes and developments have been good and some of the changes and developments have been bad. In your opinion, what are the three most positive changes & developments and what are the three most negative changes & developments?

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 10-17-2017, 08:21 AM
#2
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Positives-
1. Growth in the community , ensuring demand and potential for things to come.
2. New products, nothing is more fun then seeing new things for purchase.
3. Continued generosity and kindness amongst the community. I enjoy seeing the pass arounds and other forms of random kindness within the community.

Negatives-
1. Unfortunatly sometimes with new products the demand is so high the new products are not always available for purchase. This can be frustrating for anyone who wants to try these products.
2. Fanboys feeding the hype trains , I enjoy good honest reviews , if my favorite company put out a scent that was absolute crap I would give my honest opinion.
3. Buy low sell high free market pushers , I don’t want to take economics classes to learn how to pass things along to my friends in the community. There has always been a understanding and for whatever reason certain folks came in and established this ideology.

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 10-17-2017, 08:24 AM
#3
  • bullgoose
  • The Enabler
  • Redondo Beach, California, U.S.A
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A few positive changes:

1) Variety of heirloom quality razors. Ten years ago, there were only a few modern options and almost all of them were plated alloy razors. Now, we have a plethora of choices.

2) Adoption of the Artist Club blades for safety razors. This all started with the Cobra Classic. These type of razors give me the best shave.

3) More sophisticated websites. Ordering on-line is easier than ever

A few negative changes

1) Hype and shady marketing. While this existed to a certain degree ten years ago, it has gotten much worse and much more sophisticated.

2) Glut of products. While variety is good, the huge glut of products has kind of numbed people. New products used to be greeted with great anticipation. Now, they are just as likely to be greeted with a yawn.

3) Loss of community.

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 10-17-2017, 08:27 AM
#4
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Great points Phil I agree on all.

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 10-17-2017, 08:46 AM
#5
  • SCOV
  • Active Member
  • Minnesota
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Positive:
1. Multitude of new artisans, suppliers, etc
2. Diversity of products (metals for razors, improving on vintage designs, synthetic brushes, etc.)
3. Shaving forums and sharing of information, opinions, ideas, 

Negative:
1. Clones 
2. No easy way to satisfy demand for some excellent products
3. My credit card balance

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 10-17-2017, 11:28 AM
#6
  • Steelman
  • SUPPORT OUR POLICE OFFICERS
  • Delaware
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Positives ;

1. The online community, particularly TSN
When I first started wet shaving, I was self taught. I learned by reading package inserts and trial and error. ( my father had a beard!) The online community here is just tremendous. Granted, there are always gonna be a few trolls - but the majority of members here are gentlemen and I always look forward to participating here. And without sounding like a schill - the moderators and sponsor here are top notch people.

2. Competition has forced products to improve, particularly the razors. Better materials & designs.

3. The rise of the artisan. Not always better than commercial - but I think we can all agree that in the last several years we have seen the rise of some outstanding artisans, in all aspects of wet shaving and grooming.

Negatives;

1. Market saturation. As Phil mentioned, there is a veritable glut of products on the market nowadays. And I agree it is starting to bring about an “indifference” in my attitude towards new products.

2. Buyer beware. The expansion of the market has lured the trolls and opportunists, especially online. Protect yourself and buy from a reputable vendor or seller, even if it costs you a few bucks extra.

3. The end of an era - the local barbershop.

I grew up in Brooklyn, NY. I had Italian barbers my whole life - until recently. My barber finally retired at age 84. His sons did not want to learn the trade. Nobody in the USA does. While a barber is still a lucrative and honorable profession in Italy, it is not so much here. I think the growth of wet shaving somehow contributed to our being less dependent on barbers. So gone are the days when my barber had a cup of coffee ready for me, a flawless razor cut and shave (with hot lather) awaited me, and the perennial conversations about Sophia Loren and Raquel Welch. (Sophia rules!).

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 10-17-2017, 12:35 PM
#7
  • chazt
  • Senior Member
  • Bayside, NY
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(10-17-2017, 08:24 AM)bullgoose Wrote: 3) Loss of community.

Explain, please?

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 10-17-2017, 01:03 PM
#8
  • bullgoose
  • The Enabler
  • Redondo Beach, California, U.S.A
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(10-17-2017, 12:35 PM)chazt Wrote:
(10-17-2017, 08:24 AM)bullgoose Wrote: 3) Loss of community.

Explain, please?

Perhaps I should have said erosion of community. There are a lot more shysters, snake oil salesmen and get rich quick schemes than before and, there is a lot more bickering than before.

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 10-17-2017, 01:33 PM
#9
  • chazt
  • Senior Member
  • Bayside, NY
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(10-17-2017, 01:03 PM)bullgoose Wrote:
(10-17-2017, 12:35 PM)chazt Wrote:
(10-17-2017, 08:24 AM)bullgoose Wrote: 3) Loss of community.

Explain, please?

Perhaps I should have said erosion of community. There are a lot more shysters, snake oil salesmen and get rich quick schemes than before and, there is a lot more bickering than before.

Thanks for clarifying. Therefore 1, thank you Phil for what you do. And 2, it makes sense that a larger sample size brings with it differing personalities and inevitable conflict.

Still, overall, as a business owner you must be pleased with the growth, right? Fwiw I'll bet you're way busier now than you were years back.

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 10-17-2017, 03:43 PM
#10
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Positives:
1. Availability of great, IMO lower cost software. There are a number of high performing soaps, a/s splashes and balms sold at reasonable prices.
2. Availability of top-tier brushes. Short/no-wait to purchase a Simpsons, shavemac, paladin, or M&F.
3. Artist club SE razors.
4. Community BST. What a great way to try out or re-distribute back to the fold while saving a few $$$.
5. Easy to assemble an end-game kit (great razor, blades, brush, soap, etc) no matter your preferences.

Negatives:
1. Shaving doesn’t have an incredibly long learning curve. Once you’ve mastered technique - it’s a simple (but enjoyable) exercise.
2. Easy to get sucked into limited editions/releases etc. whereby you’re buying the same performance level as already exists in your den.
3. The urge to overbuy is strong/easy to turn this into an expensive hobby
4. Inconsistent standardization across brush-makers in terms of knot categories
5. For such an amazing segment, it’s a very small niche. I know personally one gent who wetshaves - everyone else just looks at me funny.


(clearly I have a problem counting to 3 Wink )

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 10-17-2017, 04:10 PM
#11
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Based on my 5-6 years of experience

Positive:

  1. Increase in product development and availability.  I think last week there were 4 new razors or variants released?  Lots of options these days.  I think the same goes for hardware and brushes...lots of good options coming to market and easy to get.  Yes, there are still products that are difficult to get, but that's typical I think in any hobbiest industry -- and I'm fine with that.  Getting the unicorn is fun for some!
  2. The rise of the AC blade.  As with Phil, I get my best shave from these and I am glad they are getting more attention across several different makers.
  3. The rise of the artisan, as mentioned above.  I like seeing the solidification of several solid artisan's into strong, ongoing businesses.  Availability, consistency, and CS come from stable businesses, artisan or not, and I definitely see an increase in the industry in those categories that is supported by our strong artisans.
Negatives?  or just some thoughts...

  1. Does increased product availability/competition put strain on quality artisans/innovators/producers to a point that a $XXX.XX razor/brush/etc, which is awesome and demands that price due to production costs no longer competes in a market because there are cheaper products, maybe not quite as good, but still good?  Maybe the niche is too small for this, but I do wonder given the spat of high end razors that have come out in the last year and the decreasing clamoring interest that we once saw.  I hope (and do think) there is room for production and innovation in the same market.  I think the limited quantity production model (100 razors at a time, etc) is a good protection from getting stuck with a lot of development cost and product on hand with ever increasing competition.  BTW, I am not an economist, so warn me to duck before you start throwing things!! Smile  Tongue
  2. As Mike mentioned, a very small niche.  I personally only have 3-4 personal friends that wetshave and I can talk with about the hobby (and half of those are brothers!).  I wish there were more DEs on the shelf and more opportunity to discuss the process in a mainstream context.  I am very glad TSN is here as it is a great place to exchange ideas, if not in person.
  3. Meet ups--  Tagging on to #2 above, these don't seem popular.  I think there were some attempts this year to organize, but they didn't get any traction.  In my other hobbies, BBQ and espresso, they are pretty common.  I think a hurdle to meetups in the shaving segment is the fact that you can only shave once (maybe twice) a day, but you can eat a lot of BBQ and drink a lot of espresso -- this limits the exchange possibilities I think in a group situation.  You are only looking at and discussing hardware and software, not test driving, tweaking, etc.  Along this line, I for one would try to organize an event in NorCal if we think this has legs.  

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 10-17-2017, 04:33 PM
#12
  • chazt
  • Senior Member
  • Bayside, NY
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Although I've been "wet" shaving my whole life, it's slightly less than four years using safety razors. So for me, the biggest positive is not so much a development per se, but simply the availability of being able to shave like my grandfather. I dig the fact that there are people and places (like you guys and TSN) with whom and where we can share a common passion. I never would have thought that shaving would become something I'd feel passionately about after hating it for 40 years. The only downside for me (and it's not a negative at all) is the over abundance of selection. My mind boggles at the sheer volume of products from which we can choose. I started DE shaving relatively late in life, and there just aren't enough shave opportunities. So I guess for me there aren't any 'worst of times.'

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 10-18-2017, 07:01 AM
#13
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Positives:
  1. Dramatically increased awareness from consumers.  Introduction of the Gillette Fusion was the final straw for a lot of people.
  2. More choices.  Gone are the days when your only choice in a razor was a Merkur or a...Merkur.  Smile
  3. Relative price stability (I know that some will disagree with that, with all the high-dollar, artisan-made hardware out there.  But common hardware & software has remained stable or dropped slightly over the years).
Negatives:
  1. The glut of artisans will inevitably cause a bubble in the market.
  2. An expanded enthusiast community has created a lot more "drama" in discussions, turning many off to them (I did a survey a while back and almost half the respondents were not on any social media/forums at all).
  3. AD's are still confusing newbies trying to "save money" (HA! Smile ).

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 10-18-2017, 11:57 AM
#14
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Pros:
1. Access to a massive variety of products across the hardware and software spectrum, domestically and from overseas: Between domestic suppliers carrying stock from multiple vendors and more sophisticated foreign websites allowing easier purchases to the US, this is a great time to be in the hobby.
2. New razor designs: I'm not into vintage razor chasing, so I love the work going into production of new designs and the revitalizations of dead designs. It's never been easier to try multiple high-quality razors, and it's made my shaving life easier by getting rid of products that weren't working as well for me as I thought they were once I was exposed to new choices.
3. Multiple robust communities (this is also a negative, see below): I love that I can hop on different websites and read/join discussions or to B/S/T. Each community has its own 'flavor', which can be a good and bad thing.

Cons:
1. I cannot stand the pseudo-scarcity that many of the "limited" releases create. There shouldn't be such a thing as collectible status' for consumable products of such low value/time spent to create. On a side note, "unobtanium" is my most-hated word in this hobby. 
2. I feel that the market is already nearing saturation level: There are suddenly too many vendors, and too many middling options. I think this is especially true in the brush market, but there's also a glut of soaps that appear to identical in every way to competitors other than the fragrance blends.
3. Fanboys and hype trains: In my opinion, this is the con of having robust online communities. Quality products may be ignored because they didn't board the hype train. Quality products are quickly forgotten as people rush on to the next thing, and they're never discussed again. The worst of all is what I'm consistently seeing within a specific wet shave community (you can probably guess which one): middling/low quality products get hyped up to a point where they'll have you believe that Vendor X is the godsend you absolutely need in your life, and any questioning/naysaying is ignored or voted against.

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 10-18-2017, 06:10 PM
#15
  • Nero
  • ACV is my new BFF
  • le montagne
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POSITIVES


1. Artisan hardware. I used to think that soaps/creams were the most important thing to a great shave (while always using Mühle R89), but have recently dabbled in RAD and my shaves have gone through the roof. DE, AC, and GEM.

2. (Saved for future use)

3. Internet (this is actually the most important, but it just feels like a cliche answer for so many topics... hence, it really is the most important thing today.). Access to shops and forums has made this explosion all possible and enjoyable.


NEGATIVES

1. Lanolin everywhere.

2. The troll mafia. There will be a perfectly stable thread, with divergent but peaceful views (AKA, adult conversation) going on, and then someone has to come in and make ridiculous statements just to get reactions (which they know inevitably will come... and they do), and in a few key strokes the thread is shut down. It's seriously embarrassing, it's always the same people who do it.

3. Lanolin (again)

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 10-18-2017, 06:20 PM
#16
  • chazt
  • Senior Member
  • Bayside, NY
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Good post, Matt. I'm interested in seeing what you're saving +2 for...

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 10-18-2017, 07:30 PM
#17
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I’m surprised that synthetics haven’t come up yet. While I have my own preferences, today’s synths are really excellent.

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 10-19-2017, 07:54 PM
#18
  • Nero
  • ACV is my new BFF
  • le montagne
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(10-18-2017, 06:20 PM)chazt Wrote: Good post, Matt. I'm interested in seeing what you're saving +2 for...


Thanks Chaz

I'm actually not sure what is my #2 for Positive, I just wanted Internet to be #3.
... I am still thinking about #2.

Ok... I'll say BST. (Yes I know it overlaps with Internet, but I want to call it out separately)

BST because it allows people to try more things with the same amount of money. I can buy something new from a shop, and if I don't like it I can sell it at a discount on BST and get some of my money back, then I can use that money to buy something else.

It also lets the buyer get the product for the lower price who might not care if it was already used. So he can buy something that maybe he didn't want to buy/risk at full price.

Without BST, I wouldn't have tried 15% of my history.
Without BST, my spending would decrease dramatically.

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 10-19-2017, 08:52 PM
#19
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I love the variety of soap options, both scent and formulas. But with the crazy amount of artisans comes two major problems.

First, they're often changing formulas for who-knows-what-reasons, makes it impossible to buy with confidence even from your "go-to" guy or girl. I get it when someone is new, but when a formula is found that works, and then it is changed, the whole search cycle starts over.

Second, the sample system has changed. I love trying new things, and have tried 32 samples. Some were gifts, some were trades, but most were purchases. Few soap manufacturers offer samples anymore, and those that do go through primarily one vendor. This has caused prices on samples to nearly double in the 4 years I've been wet shaving. I don't begrudge a small business making their money, and I'm sure it's labor intensive to fill those little containers, but they used to make it happen for $1.75, and now most are around $3... Even on something like Latha that's $10 for a whole tub!! And while on the subject, this vendor isn't even sampling everything in inventory anymore, just the ones that they partner with... C'mon, you used to be cool, Casie!

As a result, I have to take more chances on scents or formulas but even that is hard, which leads me to con number 3... The forums are so wishy-washy, one moment an artisan is a star, the next it's crickets. Since it's more of a risk I've only bought two soaps this year, and one of them was something I knew (B&M Lime/Lavender/Cedarwood, a scent I loved back in the day).

Wow, this was sort of therapeutic. Good topic, Phil!

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 10-20-2017, 12:32 PM
#20
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I think the positives are linked to the negatives.



Positive:

1.  Selection of products has increased dramatically.

2.  No more purchasing expensive carts (the "I'm doing the wet shaving to save money" alibi) and canned goo.

3.  Forums:  People providing great info on products.



Negative:

1.  Too many product to choose from - can't keep up.  I would have to shave 5 times a day to keep up.  

2.  The accumulation of wet shaving software and hardware is MASSIVE!  I have enough for at least 20 (or 100) life times.

3.  Everyone on the forums are enablers.  Proof?  See #1 and #2 above.



Sisi1

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