Cincinnati's Metrosexual Awakening: A New Breed of Men or Old-Hat?

Tycoon Harry’s is a Cincinnati salon with a distinct edge.

On the surface it’s stocked with the items you’d expect to find in any salon: styling chairs, dryers, a slew of hair and skin products, stations for manicures and pedicures, even massage tables – all bathed in a pleasing mix of music and light.   


However, while salons are typically reserved as the domain of women, at Tycoon Harry’s all of the manicured, exfoliating patrons are men.


“We emphasize the man in manicure,” says Jennifer Fetchko, owner and stylist of Tycoon Harry’s.  Reflecting on men’s growing openness to such treatments, she thinks “men are evolving into a better species.”

She adds that her clients represent the “entire gamut of the male spectrum,” from CEOs, to mechanics, to junior high school students, all of whom take advantage of the salon's impressive offering of services ranging from the simple cut all the way to full body waxing. 


The term, metrosexual, came into vogue in the mid-‘90s to account for men’s increased awareness of their fashion and grooming potential.  For better or worse, the label stuck. 


“I hate the word, metrosexual.  I think it’s awful,” Fetchko says, as it implies “high maintenance.”

Cincinnati's fashion conscious echo this sentiment from boutique to boardroom. 


“I’ve heard the term, metrosexual, used many different ways, both positive and negative,” says Rob Thornton, a Cincinnati businessman recognized for his refined sense of style.  “I’m not big on the media tagging everything with a buzz-word.” 


Love it or hate it, there is a link between beer guzzling, hirsute homo erectus and his waxed, cosmo sipping descendent.


There have been several prototypes. “The Rat Pack of the ‘60s, Burt Reynolds in the ‘70s, Don Johnson in the ‘80s, Clooney and Pitt in the ‘90s,” Thornton says, to name a few. 


If you follow the cologne-infused scent back far enough, it leads most distinctly to Joe Namath.  This legend of the gridiron sported Beauty Mist panty hose for an ad in 1973, at which point our club-wielding ancestors must have rolled over in their graves. 



Yet, many insist the label, metrosexual, is a media-spun misnomer – a cliché used to describe a subset of urbane men who have suavely moved among us since long before Louis XIV lorded over France in a powdered wig and stockings. 


Whether it was for sanitary or cosmetic purposes, “in Victorian times, men took just as good care of themselves as women,” says Jessica Mahaney, a men’s nail tech, masseuse and skin specialist.  “Even in Egyptian times they were putting eye liner on.”


Although it’s unlikely we’ll see a trend of men rocking eye liner in 21st century Cincinnati, a growing number of local men are updating their wardrobes and buying cosmetic kits. 


Fetchko attributes this to the fact that “men are being held to the same standard that we are.  They’re sending a message that they actually care.  It’s about time.”


And it’s not only women who are noticing.   


“I can’t count the number of comments I used to get, good and bad, for wearing a simple pink dress shirt to work or to the bars,” Thornton says.  “Now I can’t count the number of dudes I see in pink shirts out there!”


Despite all of our progress, when compared to trend-setting Europe, “we’re always at least five years behind in fashion,” Fetchko says. 


However, celebrity poster boys like Brad Pitt and David Beckham are pushing the metro revolution into Cincinnati through magazines like GQ and Details.


Yet, these magazines present “such exaggerated forms of fashion,” Fetchko says.  “They’re really designed just to give you ideas.”


Mahaney adds, “Your standard guy is not going to spend $5,000 on a man bag.”


Still, Fetchko says she gets “a lot of people that come in and want Lance Armstrong’s haircut.”


But, aside from having a cool hairdo like Lance Armstrong, who’s really driving this trend? 


The short answer: women. 


“Women really do pay attention, and I think guys are catching on to that,” Mahaney says.  “Significant others are saying, ‘quit wearing the same thing every time we go out.’”


Ironically siding with women, it was the gay community, Fetchko says, who raised the bar for straight men.  This became evident with the airing of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, a TV program that featured gay men advising clueless straight men about fashion..


“You had this whole trend of women who were in love with gay men because they take care of themselves,” Fetchko says. 


This begs the question: is the metrosexual ideal reshaping the way we view masculinity?

Or, is it just the opposite: a by-product of a shift in our view of masculinity?

Fetchko mentions one future-based episode of the controversial medical drama, Nip/Tuck, in which “the trend for [body] hair is coming back in.” 


Could this foreshadow a Neanderthal retro style, in which men stop shaving, showering, and reconnect with their cave dwelling roots? 


“As far as hairy and not hairy, I think stuff like that will fluctuate,” Fetchko says.  “But I do think that it will still be groomed and maintained.”


If grooming is here to stay, as Fetchko suggests, perhaps there will be some lasting impact from this so-called metrosexual epoch after all.


Groomed or not, it’s interesting to consider the next stage of man’s evolution.


There’s been talk of an ‘ubersexual’ – men essentially elevated to the level of demi-gods.  The likes of Bono, Bill Clinton and George Clooney have been enshrined in the pantheon. 


Alas, the ubersexual hasn’t caught on like his metro forbearer.  Yet.  But perhaps one day ubersexual will supplant his forbearer. 

In the meantime, if we discard the handy ‘metrosexual’ moniker, as many suggest we should, what will we replace it with?  How will we identify this chic race of men? 


Perhaps the best answer is the simplest.  Maybe, as Thornton suggests, we can just revert to calling it what it is: “style.”


…..


The Metrosexual Guide to Shopping and Grooming in the ‘Nati:


If you’re interested in exploring the cutting edge of fashion and grooming in Cincinnati, here’s a list of some key establishments for taking your self care to the next level.


And remember Thornton’s advice: “pulling off a new look, piece of clothing or accessory comes down to confidence…if you like it, you should rock it.”

…..


Grooming:

If you’d like to have knowledgeable, professional females pamper your skin and tame your wily hair and nails in a relaxed setting, without being gawked at, these men’s salons should do the trick:


• Better Man Salon 
• Tycoon Harry’s
• You Guys


Style:

If you open your closet and see a monochrome wall of tattered threads that don’t suit you anymore, these boutiques and brand stores have friendly, helpful staff – male and female – who are more than happy to guide you through your fashion makeover.


On the slightly higher end of the price and image spectrum:

Denim in Oakley. Who knew $200 jeans could feel so good?
• Bolero downtown carrying international designers such as Jhane Barnes, Hugo Boss,
Ted Baker London, Haupt of Germany (38 E. 4th Street, 513-421-5600)
• Dr. Mojoe at Rookwood Commons (especially good for designer denim jeans): 
• Karisma Klothing at Hyde Park Square (3524 Edwards Road, Hyde Park,
 513-321-9301)

• Metronation downtown
• Saks Fifth Avenue downtown
 
Old School:

• For a truly authentic experience, may we suggest Damico Tailor Shop (623 Scott Street in Covington 859-491-9133) This former boxer will help make sure your clothes are custom fit.

And for the guys not quite ready to jump into higher end stuff, here are some trendy, moderately priced brands:


• Banana Republic at Rookwood Commons  
• Express at the Kenwood Towne Centre
• Kenneth Cole at the Kenwood Towne Centre
• Saks Off Fifth Outlet at Cincinnati Mills

And for a great selection of unique, vintage clothing and accessories:


• Casablanca Vintage Clothing (3944 Spring Grove Ave., 513-541-6999)


Photography by Scott Beseler

Men only restroom sign at Tycoon Harry's

Tycoon Harry's in Mariemont

Jessica Mahaney, Chelsea Mitchell, Jennifer Fetchko

My Mani
My Pedi

Metronation

Denim store window


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