Influential Men

Thom Robins

With over a decade of experience in luxury men's grooming and hair, Thom Robins' skill set and expertise are utilized as a hairstylist and consultant for clients and corporate organizations in television, film, press, and salon work. Based in Vancouver, Canada, Robins has been practicing his craft since the age of fifteen, is known for intricate cuts that tend to be more stylized and refined. He was born in the United Kingdom where he worked in luxury men’s grooming and hair in London, as well as parts of Europe and India, before moving to Vancouver in 2014. 

Most recently, Robins was a finalist for the 2016 Canadian Mirrors Awards and the Professional Beauty Association’s 2016 North American Hairstyling Awards both for Men’s Hairstylist of the Year with this men's collection (left). Focus on Hair caught up with Robins where he dished about his inspiration for this series and where he sees trends for men heading.

What was your inspiration for this men’s collection?

Thom: It’s funny because I knew straight away that I only wanted to use Asian models and by doing so I would challenge myself with the hair texture.  All of my models come from different parts of Asia, so the shape of their faces and bone structures are all different, which makes for an excellent profile.

With this in mind I started looking at aspects of Asian culture, including K-pop, Japanese street style, and the various sub groups, from which I pulled some hair inspiration and looks I was keen to work with. The actual shapes I have used in this collection herald from woman's hair images I drew inspiration from during the research stage of the collection - which perfectly executed the mild feel of gender fluidity that this collection in part demonstrates.  I feel that in some form that is an important part of men’s culture today.

Ultimately I wanted this collection to show minimalism in its overall appearance, strong cohesive shape references, and to be a clear illustration of how I feel men’s hair today is now about crossing over techniques found in traditional barbering and modern styling. 

How would you describe the hair?

Thom: The hair is definitely a crossover between classic barbering and hairdressing, the shapes, look, feel and approach reflect this. 

What influenced your choice for model, wardrobe, photographic style, etc.?

Thom: I wanted wardrobe that reflected the hair. It's it was important that the clothing was minimal and either well cut or had an interesting shape and flow to it. The model choice purely stemmed from the fact I wanted to show an all Asian collection and represent that look as best I could - Asian hair isn't easy to style and cut so it was a great challenge. 

We played around with the lighting a lot for the collection, sometimes it's during this process of trial and error that you find what you want, obviously I had a mood board of examples for lighting to get started with, then it's just a case of finding what works. We actually did a lighting test prior to the shoot day. 

As a men’s hair and grooming expert, how do you see men’s hairstyles evolving?

Thom: By intertwining barbering and hairdressing. Purely classic barbering has a place, but you need to add technique and approach that you might find in hairdressing - be it texturizing technique, shape, styling, etc.. The trick is to stay ahead of the game.  Knocking out fades and side parts all day isn't utilizing the full potential of men's hair or your ability to create it.

Hair: Thom Robins - 2016 NAHA Nominee for Men's Hairstylist of the Year • Photo: John Bello • Photos Courtesy Pro Beauty Association