Let’s face it: no one is going to reinvent the way we shave. At least on any real scale in our lifetime. Most of us use a cartridge razor with (hopefully) good blades and a soothing shave cream that keeps the whole operation running smoothly. The only real shaving disruption over the past few years has to do with changes in the cost and the delivery system.
When Mike Dubin, founder of Dollar Shave Club, released and starred in what is possibly the most hilarious and virally successful video in product launch history, the revolution began. We were no longer hostages in a dysfunctional model that entailed ugly and over-produced razors, $20 for five cartridges, or wasteful plastic disposables.
Since Dollar Shave Club launched in March of 2012, there have been other contestants in the direct-to-consumer shaving game. Even behemoth Gillette has succumbed to the threat by offering a subscription model with their razors that look like props from Robocop (the 1987 one). But perhaps the most stylish and streamlined player to date is Harry’s.
In addition to a strong emphasis on tasteful aesthetics, Harry’s also succeeds with simplicity in their focus. Unlike Dollar Shave Club, they don’t seem to be after the whole bathroom experience by adding hair products and butt wipes. Harry’s is just about shaving (at least for now).
The a la carte offerings from Harry’s include two different razor handles (The Truman and The Winston) , one 5-blade cartridge option, a shave cream or gel, and an after-shave moisturizer. There are also sets based on the two different handles, with each set including 1 handle with a cartridge, 2 replacement cartridges, a choice of shaving cream or gel, and a travel guard for the razor cartridge. There are also subscription plans available.
Harry’s takes great pride in their high-precision blades, which are made in Harry’s own German factory, making them the only shaving company that makes their own blades and sells them directly to the customer without the middleman. They recently sent me a Truman Set with the Foaming Shave Gel option (as opposed to the Shave Cream). Having used both their razors and their shave cream before, I can report an extremely positive experience. The blades give an incredibly good shave and the gel was gentle to my sensitive mug.
Another great asset of Harry’s is the all-important element of good design. I cannot tell you how many men’s clothing and grooming startups come to me looking for exposure on my blog or my social media channels, but when it comes to design, branding and presentation, I can tell you that about 98% of them are not ready for prime time. Harry’s was clearly very studied about branding and good taste. They obviously understood the importance of good design by presenting a humble catalog of products that not only work well and come to the customer in a new and affordable way, but also look fabulous in a man’s bathroom. The package is even fun to open. When it came to producing a good presentation, they were very Steve Jobs about it.
And to round off the whole Harry’s experience, they also have a terrific blog, which is great for any brand when it’s well done. The blog is called Five O’Clock and is refreshingly not a thinly-veiled hard-selling tool dedicated to their product line. It’s actually a smart and interesting lifestyle magazine and should be a case study for any menswear and grooming startup.
This is an exciting time for effective disruptors of tired models. Just like the advent of high-quality streaming services vs. physical CDs in the music industry, companies like Harry’s have shaken up a system that was ripe for shaking. It’s nice to have another handsome, affordable, well-made and workable solution on our menu.