The phrase “Jumped the Shark,” isn’t typically used to describe an industry where at once something is popular has basically become ridiculous. It is used to describe when a TV show declines in quality due to lack of creativity, lack of innovation and just basically at a level where nothing is fresh and some kind of episode is created just for novelty’s sake.
So when I started thinking about this a few weeks ago, I really had to stew about it. I stopped writing and observing what was happening. I saw many people gaining “exclusive” interviews with each other, a few meet ups in various locations such as Seattle and Boston, where “limited edition” soaps were created especially for the event by Douglas Smythe of Phoenix Artisan Accoutrements. With that, many people were “envious” of those people who got these limited edition soaps and when one would become available, it would be snapped up by a collector of fine soaps.
I took another look at the videos of Con in front of this staged library where he informed me about the fantastic feel of a hair tonic by Pinaud Eau de Portugal that had a scent that was described as “boozy”.
I saw Ray Pope, messing with the various members of a group, asking questions like, “Who is the biggest douchebag in wet shaving?” and also, “Who is the biggest egomaniac here?”
I saw a close friend and fellow Wet Shaving Times associate, defriend me for no reason explained and when I asked about it, he then blocked me.
I’ve seen countless Shave of the Day pictures posted in various Wet Shaving groups on Facebook and Instagram.
I’ve seen Busta come up with a very innovative way to compare soaps by doing a series of videos where they were matched against each other.
Meanwhile, Christopher Bailey, the Traditional Shaving Evangelist got in a huge streak – purchasing everything he could and then doing soap reviews, something he thought he wouldn’t ever do. He was quite good at it by the way.
The kids on Reddit still insulted various artisans and each other.
I saw Mark Herro really get on a roll, writing so many articles and then also promoting his newly acquired podcast called “Wet Shaving News,” that is focused on the latest developments in the Artisan world. He hosts the podcast, that is put together by a person by the name of “Andrew,” and Andrew doesn’t reveal his last name.
I saw Tim Blem come out with a Jolly Roger brush that is a skull with a plissonish brush knot in it.
Speaking of brushes, I’ve seen a lot of different mainstream artisans come out with their own version of the L’Occitane brush. Whether it’s Stirling’s Big Mama, or whatever it’s called to the Fine Accoutrements Angel Hair Brush, which came completely jacked up and when I complained to Todd, the owner, he just shrugged and said, “Oh, I can’t control the quality of my brushes that are sent directly from China.” No offer of replacement, no apology whatsoever. Then, most recently, the RazoRock’s Plissoft. I bought this brush for $9.99 last week and it’s a hell of a brush, which made me regret paying a whole hell of a lot for my L’Occitane Plissons – Versions one and two. To be fair, I traded some great soaps for the Version One brush but I didn’t notice that much of a difference so I traded it off to someone else.
I saw Christopher Peace, who I met through wet shaving, go on his various rants about this and that, but it never seemed to get around to the quality of his shaves.
I also got my first bottle of the super rare but often praised Shave Tonic from Derby City Chop Shop and it’s hard as hell to open, but I am able to, thanks to a bottle opener I bought at a recent event in Uptown Normal. It’s fantastic, by the way.
I think about all the various, limited edition random soaps Douglas Smythe has created, as well as his new line of soaps under the label “Crown King,” but he still doesn’t go by his real name and I still react to that, as I haven’t had to create a character to be involved in the Wet Shaving Community- I’m just myself. Yes, it’s mysterious, and yes, it works for him, however, to me, it’s still hard to grasp. It’s hiding behind a character, it’s hiding behind a company that is gathering every product so he can sell it under one online market to clean up on sales. I was aware it was going to happen but I watched it develop before my eyes, as well as all the various online stores that have been popping up to provide the hungry shaving enthusiasts with products they are craving, just so they can try it out, then trade it off for something else they want.
The truth is, wet shaving as a hobby has become a hoarder’s paradise and I actually see more people just collecting soaps they will never get to using, collecting countless razors that just sit there in their collections they proudly display with their many brushes that have been reconditioned exceptionally well but they just sit there, begging to be used.
I have seen less stories of people turning other people on to Wet Shaving and more people just keeping everything to themselves, with exception to TSE who has decided to pair down his soaps to around 40, which is quite admirable, but I question if he will truly ever pair down to that small amount, as he will continue to review soaps and call them each fantastic so we will all get really jazzed about them and then envy him enough to take the bait to purchase from RazoRock and Stirling, a couple of his personal favorites.
It’s an awesome way to get a great shave, but the longer I am involved in the community, the more I see what I hate about the journey of what used to be a great way to feel fantastic in the morning to a dilemma of “What the hell can I put together this morning to one-up the other people on Instagram?”
So, back to the question I started with – Has Wet Shaving Jumped The Shark? Not quite yet. There are countless more people who don’t have their vanity soap and aftershave sets done by RazoRock and Phoenix Artisan Accoutrements, Catie’s Bubbles hasn’t put out a soap that is mediocre and people are still giving each other shit on the forums about the Gold Dollar fiasco. I actually am enjoying seeing all the limited edition soaps come out. I am reminded of the Jones Soda Christmas Packs, where flavors like “Christmas Tree” and “Latke” are bottled and sold for people to collect. I remember the Halloween special edition packs of “Candy Corn” soda caught my eye on their website.
I think the Wet Shaving Industry is just starting to heat up. You know what? I can’t wait to see what happens next, what kinds of products are coming down the pike from these masters of products and services. I can’t wait to hear more stories of how a company like Fine Accoutrements came through for them because they got a broken bottle in the mail and he sent out a free one just to make it right.
I can’t wait to hear all the stories of how wet shaving has changed lives for the better. What I hope to see more of, and this has become a very unique thing within the Wet Shaving Community, is more fundraising for important causes. Maybe Douglas could put out a series of aftershaves that could benefit the homeless who aren’t currently shaving but need it because they stink and they are gross and they need to clean up to look good for the interview they have with the EDD.
Stay tuned, folks – it’s gonna get great.