Styling, cutting, trends, education – we got to talk to hair maestro Chris Foster about all this and much more.
Chris Foster was in India on a masterclass tour for Beauty Essentials. Chris comes with more than 25 years of experience in hairdressing and is regarded as an authority on men’s styling the world over. As his profile on hairbychrisfoster.com says, “My professional achievements have been endorsed by numerous awards and accolades, including a Master Craftsman award which I received at the House of Commons. As a finalist, nominated for Men’s category of ‘The British Hairdressing Awards’ and three times winner of ‘Black Hair & Beauty Barber of the Year’, I have been granted exclusive entry to the ‘Barbering Hall Of Fame.’”
With such a vast experience under his belt, Chris has now made hair education his priority. His visit to India entailed learning sessions at the Indian School of Hairdressing and his presentation of the Hunter Collective collection of hair products. Not only was his styling inspiring for hairdressers and barbers here, but the tips and tricks he shared were invaluable. We catch up with Chris as he talks about everything under the men’s hairdressing sun.
What brings you to India?
I’ve been invited to launch the Hunter 1114 product range at Indian School of Hairdressing and Beauty Essentials. Since I came here over two years ago, I’ve been trying to get back. And the opportunity came when they launched a product range. So, I am here to talk about the product range and to do seminars. They gave me this three-city tour, and I was like yes, let’s do this! And it has been fun.
Which cities are you visiting?
Flew into New Delhi, then we went to Bangalore and from Bangalore to Mumbai.
Tell us something about Hunter Collective.
It’s easy to understand. People could use it quite simply, It’s not complicated. It’s not tubs and tubs of different products for a guy to get confused. One product does this, one product does that. Cocktail of product range to create different looks. And over a period of time, we have had 12 models in each city and we created something completely different for all the cities. As a creative hairdresser, it has been really interesting working over ranges, to get different looks for men and push those boundaries of creativity because it shows that you want to be extremely creative with the type of show work that I do as a creator.
How different is the market here in India for men’s grooming compared to the west?
I would say men’s grooming in the UK has skyrocketed nearly from the last 20 years. And I can see male grooming in India about that point, where it is going to skyrocket. It has started to saturate in the West now, so many products range out there. But I think the potential over here, in particular, is huge. Because I strongly believe guys want to feel they are pampered, but haven’t had the right ranges or haven’t had the right products that will make them feel they are pampered.
Do you think the hairdressers are also capable now to cater to the needs of the customers?
I think there is still a skill gap. From the work that I’ve seen, style sensitivity while approaching men’s hair is lacking. Like people are going short in areas they shouldn’t go short. They are not using the style sensitivity that should quite compliment the style of the man’s heads for instance that. So I think when stylists start to train more they realize the more clientele they get. They have a lot of growth there. And that happened 20 years ago in the UK where people all went to ladies hairdressing salons. Now barbershops are booming. The UK market is huge for barbershops. Everywhere you look, there is a barbershop. There are so many product ranges, so that is why I see the potential for this market. The market in the south in itself saying that okay, there is this huge gap in the market where there is 50% of the population who are men let’s look after men.
So, you think they don’t understand how a man’s head or face is structured or what kind of work we should be doing on the hair?
I think education is not there. It’s not like they don’t understand, I think education is not there. And I think that is the reason why I am here as well. I think I want to be able to give this particular market all my skills, I have an online academy so I don’t have to be in India to teach. I am working India school of hairdressing to try and create content to teach people virtually, online. We live on our phone practically 5-6 hours a day, we can track things, you might as well look at your phone and learn. Watch a video about how to do certain things. I think that’s where the opportunity lies for people to have a method to continue to learn.
There is no point in watching a video as a student, where you have hair that’s slightly different. In many different ways. It is stronger, it is thicker, so you might as well come to India and do Indian hair so people can see their hair and really like their own styles rather than watching a western hairstylist do western hair. Indian hair is different. It behaves differently to humidity.
Which is your favorite Hunter Collective product?
I like sea salt spray because of its versatility. I haven’t used the raw clay as much or the whipped mousse. So, sea salt spray is my foundation product. I use it to blow dry with, use to add texture to the hair and to get the beachy kind of look.