Hot Shave Heralds Hairy ‘Movember’ for Grooming-Savvy Gents

Pall Mall, a wood-paneled barbershop founded in 1896 near Buckingham Palace, has so many bookings for gentlemen’s shaves you could be forgiven for thinking another royal wedding was approaching.

This time it’s not about Prince William and Kate Middleton. It’s about mustaches.

Movember, a global campaign that encourages men to grow mustaches in November to support the fight against prostate and testicular cancer, is filling barbers in London with men keen to start the month cleanshaven.

“Thursday through Saturday this week will be our busiest shave days this year,” said Pall Mall Barbers General Manager Daniel Davies. “We’re expecting about a 50 percent rise on normal orders.”

The fundraiser, which started in 2003, is benefiting from the burgeoning popularity of male grooming and Movember’s celebrity signings. The global male grooming market grew 33 percent to $33.6 billion between 2003 and 2012, according to Euromonitor International. The market researcher predicts that the industry will grow another 3.3 percent this year.

“The whole facial hair segment has become more fashionable and sales of facial equipment and products have skyrocketed,” said Bryan Roberts, an analyst at Kantar Retail in London. “It’s a happy coincidence that Movember happened alongside that general trend.”

Cool as Hendrix

Last year, 1.1 million people took part in Movember around the world, raising more than 92 million pounds ($148 million), according to the group’s website. Participant numbers soared 29 percent from 2011 to 2012, after doubling from the previous year.

Formula 1 driver Mark Webber and various U.S. football stars are taking part this year. Chef Jamie Oliver, actor Stephen Fry and James Bond star Daniel Craig have grown mustaches in previous years.

“Most men have always wanted an excuse to grow a mustache,” Movember co-founder Justin Coghlan said in a phone interview. “So many cool people in history have had mustaches, from Einstein to Dali to Jimi Hendrix. We feel like we’ve brought back something cool.”

Gillette, a maker of razors and shaving products owned by Procter & Gamble Co., will work with the campaign for the second time, after donating about 100,000 pounds last year in the U.K. Bank of America Corp. raised 40,000 pounds in Britain last year, the largest U.K. donation from the financial services industry.

Designer Stubble

“Movember does a great job at tapping into already shifting consumer trends and preferences,” Jared Regan, brand manager for Gillette in the U.K. and Ireland, said in e-mailed comments. “We saw the rise and fall of the metrosexual and then an increasing acceptance of stubble and facial hair in both informal and formal situations. It’s no longer taboo to have stubble or to sport your facial hair style in the workplace.”

Gillette, which competes with Unilever, Nivea maker Beiersdorf AG and L’Oreal SA in the men’s grooming market, was a Movember partner solely in the U.K. last year and plans to run programs in 14 countries, including the U.S., France and South Africa, this year.

In 10 years, the charity has spread from a small group of friends who came up with the idea in Australia, to South Africa, Europe, North America and Asia. Funds raised from the campaign are donated to cancer charities in each of the countries that participate. Movember’s funded programs focus on men’s health, prostate and testicular cancer, and mental health.

Millions Pledged

“My colleagues and I are all of an age where prostate cancer is a real risk,” said Guy Hill, head of sales at Helvea Ltd., the U.K. branch of a Swiss broker, who has raised 875 pounds in sponsorship money for his pledge to grow his first-ever mustache. “It’s an excellent cause and we’re all keen to grow some facial hair for a month.”

More than 412,000 people had registered for Movember globally by 4:15 p.m. today in London, with about $5.4 million pledged so far, according to the campaign’s website. The U.K. has the most participants, while the U.S. is leading the donation board with about $1.3 million to date.

Murdock London, a barber that opened near London’s financial district in 2006 and offers hot-towel wet shaves for 45 pounds, is opening its sixth store next month.

“We get a lot of requests to style and trim mustaches during November and we tend to sell a lot of mustache-related products like maintenance kits, combs and wax,” said William Hutchins, a spokesman for Murdock. Stylists from the barbershop will visit London offices to trim mustaches as more U.K. companies encourage employees to take part.

“Movember is a really innovative idea,” said Isabel Cavill, an analyst at Planet Retail Ltd. in London. “It fits nicely with men who are doing a lot more to groom themselves and the increasing focus on men’s grooming products.”

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