Hello everyone. I am very excited to bring you all this blog post. This is my first Q & A session with Matt Pisarcik of The Razor Emporium! In the post he answers a few questions and gives us a brief background of himself and his business. This is kind of a ‘PART 1’ of questions.
Please have a read and enjoy. Also, feel free to comment as I would love to do a Skype one on one with Matt and record it for my Youtube channel and the blog. In it I will use some questions from my readers!!
To begin here is a quick bio from Matt that he used at the most recent National razor Collector’s meeting…..
CANUCK SHAVER : In your opinion are razors getting better over time or worse?
MATT PISARCIK : If we are talking about razors in general – I think that they are getting easier and easier to use. When you look at a cartridge razor – they require 0 effort. You don’t need to find the one that works for you, no need to experiment with different blades or technique – your entire shaving experience has been reduced to a chore that must be done and hurried through, and all products are meant for the “average” person – whoever that is.
Traditional wet-shaving using a Double Edge, Single Edge or Straight Edge razor is so cool because of all the variations possible. You are put into the driver seat of your shaving experience – free to make choices that work best for you, experiment and try new things. There are hundreds of products and choices out there- and new ones being added all the time.
The current climate of DE razors is quite skewed in both directions – we have plenty of choices for both cheap and high end budgets. Most of the cheap ones are simply clones of each other- with the Edwin Jagger head being the most copied. Every few weeks, someone decides to respond to the countless companies who solicit on Facebook for a Pakistan, Indian or Chinese made razor to be produced with “your logo” on it. I’m not saying these razors won’t give a great shave- but they’re fast food at best and really do nothing original.
I was hired by Neil Jagger, founder of Edwin Jagger, to work a tradeshow at the company booth in Las Vegas a year ago. We had several great conversations over the few days I was there – one of the burning questions I had for him was regarding the popularity and copying of the innovative head he designed years ago. He told me that it means that he did a great job, but of course, it was frustrating to see his design stolen.
Gillette was a company that innovated and constantly pushed the envelope of shaving technology – inventing the disposable DE blade, the first twist to open DE razor, the TECH solid guard design, the Adjustable DE razor, and even the cartridge system. Today’s double edge razor makers are not really designing new things or even making improvements – they are simply trying to get in on the “shaving craze” that has emerged in the last few years.
Some high end companies, like PILS or iKon, have made strides forward with material and design improvements. However, even the best or most expensive razors out there are still relying old head, guard or handle benchmarks from the past.
I generally am excited for the marketplace that has emerged over the past few years around the shaving culture- more companies means more competition, and competition usually breeds innovation. I hope more companies innovate and continue to push the envelope of what is possible so that the consumer has the best and most plentiful options out there when deciding what to shave with.
CANUCK SHAVER: So true about ‘new designs’ being just recycled ideas from the past. Just slight tweaks for the most part. Love your answer though and how YOU can see it as a consumer and a person in the business.
CANUCK SHAVER : What is the most original Razor and or Bizarre razor?
MATT : Historically speaking – I think the Segal or Schick Repeating Razor were very original! The Segal twists open, but had a proprietary blade that had a hole big enough for the razor head to pass over once it was in the open position. The Repeating Razor was the Injector predecessor and was inspired by semi-automatic rifles after Col. Jacob Schick was in the first World War. The loved the idea of loading a rifle without touching the ammunition and carried that same concept to a razor design that loaded blades from the handle and a cartridge. In fact, this innovation was the basis of what would become the “system” or cartridge razor that is so commonplace today.
In today’s market- I recently saw a kickstarter campaign for Zaffiro razors – they use a synthetic sapphire blade that is supposed to last up to 1 year. It seems very innovative and I hope they do well!
CANUCK SHAVER : Good call. I always forget about the Segal razor. It is worth looking up if you haven’t ever seen one. As for the Zaffiro I will be interested to see some reviews on it. I saw it on kickstarter and was intrigued despite it being more of a cartridge razor. For more info here is the ZAFFIRO SITE .
CANUCK SHAVER : What material do you feel withstands the test of time best?
MATT : Stainless steel is of course a great option – it just usually has to be cleaned or covered with some other material to avoid blade stains. Of course, taking a DE blade out of a razor is the best option to prevent rust or corrosion – sadly many people don’t do that.
We have coated thousands of razors in Rhodium and its an amazing choice for plating – some people even put Rhodium over Stainless Steel because of its anti-tarnishing properties.
Nickel is actually a great all-around material – I think that it may prevent blade stains the best but some people have an allergy to it.
Chrome is a clear coat more or less that goes over nickel in order to harden it. While its a great all around finish, it can crack if left exposed to moisture, one reason we don’t get involved with it in our workshop.
Brass is actually one of the best base metals out there- Gillette, Gem, Schick and Ever Ready used it for decades for a reason. It’s easy to machine and is malleable – meaning if you drop it, you can easily get it back into the right shape and working order. The same can’t be said for Zinc Alloy- a metal you see on most modern razors.
Brass is nearly as expensive as stainless steel, so that’s why you don’t see people using it too often today.
Canuck Shaver : Awesome info on the different materials! I didn’t know about the nickel allergies. I do see a lot of the blade staining which is so easy to avoid if you just remove the blade….which I do 100% of the time. As for the brass I know first hand what a great material it is. Owning a few OC’s over the past couple years I have had to get some teeth bent back into position, something other materials won’t allow you to do.
CANUCK SHAVER : How much of your razor collection do you use??
MATT : Most of my razor collection is just that- a collection! I have shaved with a few pieces here and there- but really most items in the display case are in New Old Stock condition and I hate to dirty them or even affect the finish in the slightest. People know me for repairing / revamping razors in our workshop, however I do absolutely nothing to the pieces I’ve collected over the years. I just blow out any dust with compressed air, wipe down with a cotton cloth and display. I think there’s something really cool about the originality of the pieces I’ve collected – and I’d like to keep them that way! I have several vintage razors in my shave den at home – and those get used often. My favorite razor lately has been the NEW Criterion that Gillette produced in the 1930’s. It’s no wonder that companies like iKon and Above the Tie have taken design specs directly from it – it’s a great all around shave!
A 1930’s criterion above from the Razor Emporium
I want to thank Matt once again for taking the time to introduce himself and answer a few questions for me and my followers!!
Stay Clean and keep on Shaving!!