Sharp rise in demand for traditional cut-throat razors
A WORLDWIDE revival of the traditional shave - known as straight or cut-throat razor shave - is bringing fortunes to some craftsmen, like those in Germany's "blade capital".
Since early 2000, Dovo Steelware in Solingen has boosted its production of razors from a few thousand to tens of thousands a year.
"At our place, most of the work is done by hand," said Ulrich Wiethoff, director of the Dovo factory.
Dovo, established in 1906, owes its fame to its straight razors, of which it is one of the world's leading manufacturers.
The cut-throat razor has made a comeback as an essential gentleman's accessory, a stainless steel blade that slips into a wooden or imitation tortoiseshell, ivory or mother-of-pearl handle.
This type of razor almost vanished in the second half of the 20th century, with the advent of disposable and electric shavers.
But "in the past 10 years, there has been a renaissance of traditional shaving with the male public and a very strong recovery in demand", said Mr Wiethoff, presenting a showcase of elegant razors bound for shipment around the world.
It is the same story at knife maker Boeker, also in Solingen, which said that demand had about doubled annually in recent years as cut-throat razors have become popular in Europe and the United States.
"Men take more care of themselves... and it almost inevitably leads to the rediscovery of the old method of classic shaving," said Chris Kurbjuhn, author of the German blog Nassrasur (Wet Shave).
Open razors are now discussed on blogs and online videos, while barber shops and Internet retailers are making a brisk trade with shaving paraphernalia, from badger hair brushes to shaving soap.
"Today people are sick and tired of consumerism and brands," said Geoffrey Bruyere, co-founder of Bonne Gueule, a male fashion blog.
"We are witnessing a vintage trend, a return to authentic things."
But even if "a well-kept straight razor lasts a lifetime", the starting price of around 150 euro (S$207) is a barrier for many men, said Mr Kurbjuhn.