Interview by Caterina Coccioli
I had the pleasure of meeting Romano Brida, co-founder of the newly opened barber shop, Bullfrog, on the first day of summer sales in Milan where it seemed to be invaded by hordes of professional shoppers. Despite the options of buying a Prada suit for half price and relaxing at the seaside, gentlemen headed to Bullfrog for a new hairdo and for the fresh and clean feeling after haircut. While Romano's boys, Tristan and Davide, were chopping locks in the shop, I asked Romano a few questions about his thrilling new project.
Caterina Coccioli: How and when did this project begin?
Romano Brida:This project started two years ago. I always loved barber shops. Some international relations we had allowed for us to have collaborators from abroad.
When and how did you meet your collaborators ?
I met Tristan two years ago in New York in the vintage custom car scene. And Davide is from Padova; I rescued him from a ladies hair salon where he was working for six years. He wanted to become a barber so I gave him the opportunity to follow his true passion.
What inspired you to open a traditional barber shop in Milan?
During my several trips abroad, I've had the to opportunity to experience places made for men where it was possible to only live certain specific moods related to the Italian culture. In the 70s and 80s, the unisex hairdresser became very popular. This typical culture got lost, but I noticed that now there is a need for a revival of those atmospheres and also of those kind of services. A man doesn't need to go to the barber to have his face shaved. He goes to have a break. We provide two different types of shaves: the Italian one that last about 15 minutes and the American one that lasts 45 minutes. Usually now, all of my costumers are asking for the American one and often fall asleep, and you can imagine how falling asleep with a blade so close to your neck is out of the ordinary but it happens over and over. What we did is create a pause in one's frenetic lifestyle.
What's the meaning of the name "Bullfrog"?
In the North American culture the bullfrog is a popular character. In fairy tales, the bullfrog becomes a prince when kissed by the princess... It's also a big, aggressive amphibian that eats birds and mice and ruins plantations. In the hippy culture, it is well known to have lysergic properties. It's a strong symbol and that's why we chose it.
So you've opened up shop recently, how would you describe your typical client? What is his request?
Right now out average costumer is very differentiated. It could be a person related to a certain genre of music, is into motorcycles and cars, or a common individual who is looking for a classic hairstyle. Some older gentlemen that are shaving enthusiasts bring us their old razors to hear our opinion. We opened up the gate to a world that was sleeping.
What's the soundtrack for a perfect haircut?
It depends on our costumer. A few hours ago we asked a guy what kind of music he likes and we played folk irish punk for him. Yesterday, we played Johnny Cash for a friend of mine in love with the southern US. We even had the owners of Deus from Australia and we played The Pogues for them. They thanked us for that. We try to respect our customers' taste.
What's your relation with fashion?
My wife works as a make up artist, so fashion is her environment. The fashion scene is fancying Bullfrog and I'm very happy about it. Bullfrog wasn't meant to be fashion oriented, but I guess we caught a trend related to men's grooming and classic style in menswear that is having a great success.
Bullfrog is on Via Thaon di Revel 3 in Milan, Italy and is open Tuesday to Friday from 12-9pm and Saturdays from 10am-5pm.
All Photos by Tommaso Di Ciommo