Interview: BBA’s Chris Foster & Erik Lander

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The British Barber’s Association (BBA) specialises in delivering high quality training to professionals around the world, and now they have their sights set on India. BBA Style Director Chris Foster and Master Barber Erik Lander have over half a century’s worth of combined experience at their disposal to make a difference. We caught up with Chris and Erik for a chat…

Q When did you first know you wanted to be a hairstylist?
Chris Foster: My first inspiration for becoming a hairstylist came from watching the creativity of barbering in the ’90s. The interaction and the culture inspired me.
Erik Lander: I come from a family of hairdressers and barbers. I was always in the salon as a child, and I knew from a very young age that I wanted to be in the industry. I started to work in the salon after school and in the holidays—I loved interacting with diverse people as well as getting a thrill out of changing their looks to make them feel great.

Cris Foster

Cris Foster

Q What is the biggest hindrance when it comes to working in and managing creative teams?
Chris: I guess the biggest hindrance in working with creative teams is generally ensuring that everyone in the team has the same creative passion and commitment.
Erik: Ego. It’s a major part of our industry. When you are part of a team it’s never about the individual, it should always be about the team.

Q What are you most excited about in 2017?
Chris: Over the past few years, interest in male grooming has seen a massive rise. To meet demands, the BBA is committed to raising standards with our education programmes. We have them running in the UK, Canada, North America and, now, India. It is great to see the growth of the male grooming industry and it being received with such enthusiasm.
Erik: 2017 is the year I see the BBA barber competitions going worldwide. We already run this competition in the UK and the UAE, and we receive a lot of interest for running this competition in Europe, Asia and America. So I can see us being very busy this year with this project.

Q A hair trend you’d like to resurrect…
Chris: I guess the 90’s hi-top. It was an iconic look from the world of hip-hop music, and was around the time I started in the male grooming industry.
Erik: Rather than a particular trend, I want to resurrect men’s desire to be more conscious about their hair, especially since it is now becoming socially acceptable for men to take care of themselves.

Q A hair trend you would like to ditch in 2017…
Chris: A move away from short hair. I would like to see more length coming back into men’s hair, especially on the sides of the head.
Erik: Men with scalp braids. That is just wrong.

Q Which technique is your favourite?
Chris: I’m a big fan of razor cutting hair. I like the sporadic texture it gives and also the freedom to create movement within the hair.
Erik: I love using the razor! This is a skill on its own—it takes years of constant practice and you are always learning new ways and techniques to use it. Also, it gives you an effect you struggle to get with scissors.

Eric Lander

Erik Lander

Q What is that one thing that most men are guilty of when it comes to their hair?
Chris: Using the wrong type of products for their hair. I think this is down to lack of education or not understanding how certain products work. Another thing would be neglecting skincare.
Erik: Using far too much product. They stick two fingers into the tub of product, scoop it out, and apply it straight onto the hair and wonder why it all ends up in one place instead of evenly over the whole head. Ultimately, it is stylists who must educate their clients on what product is right for their style and how to use it.

Q What sort of changes have you noticed in men’s grooming in the past decade?
Chris: The whole growth of the male grooming industry, and the fact that there are so many product companies catering for all aspects of the male grooming market. From haircare to beard care to shave care, the growth has been absolutely astonishing.
Erik: Slowly but surely, we are seeing that men are taking much more care of themselves, and as a result the male grooming industry is now worth approximately US$ 20 billion a year. The biggest rise or resurgence is in shaving. But while the trend is massive, the problem is that the skill takes years to perfect and has to be practiced constantly to be competent. This has emerged as the biggest skills gap in the industry.

Q What qualities should an aspiring hair stylist possess?
Chris: Always be open to learning and growing within this amazing industry. You have to be able to mould your creativity around other inspirations—to include other creative industries such as film, fashion, art and even architecture.
Erik: Be a perfectionist! It’s all about the details, and to constantly strive to do everything better than the last time.

Q Words of advice to aspiring hair stylists…
Chris: To be the best, you must learn from the best and work with the best.
Erik: There is no substitute for hard work. Put in the hours now and you will reap the rewards later.
 
Flash Fire Round

1. One celebrity I’d like to give a makeover to…
Chris: Barack Obama
Erik: Donald Trump; I think we all know why.

2. My guilty pleasure is…
Chris: Chocolate
Erik: Women. It’s amazing to work with beautiful models all the time.

3. I never travel without my…
Chris: My ZÜCA kit bag
Erik: My iPad Pro

4. One grooming product I can’t do without…
Chris: Moisturiser
Erik: BBA Texturising Clay

5. The on-trend hairstyle I’m in love with right now…
Chris: Textured quiff
Erik: Men’s styles are getting longer, and I really like this.

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