Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Razor and Brush/Giovanni Arbate: An Appreciation

with 9 comments

Although I noted earlier that Razor and Brush—aka Barbieria Italiana—would close it doors, I did not in that post recognize the enormous contribution this vendor—Giovanni Arbate—made to today’s traditional wet-shaving. Until he opened the site, most of us were unaware of the enormous range of products available—particularly blades. Shavers mainly selected from one of six makes: Swedish Gillette, Feather, Israeli Personna, Crystal, Merkur, and Derby. Once you found which of those worked best, that was it.

One shaver got interested in blade collecting, and began urging us all to expand our blade horizons. At about the same time, Gio started Barbieria Italiana with an offering of unfamiliar brands of blades along with some aftershaves and soaps that we didn’t know.

We began sampling those wares, and Gio began expanding his range of offerings. Barbieria Italiana became a shaving site that had a great number of items not otherwise available in the US—and many of us found brands of blades that were better than anything we had been using, and economical as well.

Razor and Brush eventually evolved to include:

In addition, he provided links to a variety of shave sites:

Shaveblog
Kafeneio
Later On
ShaveWorld
Adventures in wet shaving
Dynasty of Lao
Mike’s Rants and Raves
The Shave Den
Straight Razor Place
Gut Rasiert (German)
Mr. Razor
NassRasur (German)

All of this is still intact and on the Web. Although you can’t order from Barbieria Italiana’s shave store, you certainly can browse and build wishlists. ShoeboxShaveshop.com seems to be continually expanding the range of its offerings, so one can hope that someday one can get the full range of Barbieria Italiana’s products. Moreover, the Message Board and the Sales Board are still operational.

Gio and Razor and Brush transformed the US shave scene, and although Gio can no longer be an active vendor, he has certainly made his mark and deserves much gratitude from American wetshavers.

Written by LeisureGuy

2 May 2009 at 10:48 am

Posted in Daily life, Shaving

9 Responses

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  1. It’s a real shame he got off to such a bad start on B&B. Fortunatley, the wet shaving community (for the most part) recognized a lot of what you have wrote out here.

    James

    2 May 2009 at 11:09 am

  2. Quite a few people on both the major shaving forums did not like the idea of new and unfamiliar products and many condemned the unfamiliar brands of blades without ever trying them. It was odd to watch.

    LeisureGuy

    2 May 2009 at 11:15 am

  3. A very accurate and well-deserved tribute. A great loss to the wet shaving world. I’m surprised Gio didn’t just sell the whole thing intact…he had certainly built up a lot of “goodwill” that likely had some value. But I can also understand because Gio was very committed to outstanding customer service which he always delivered, and in the end its tough to serve two masters equally well. A great loss, again.

    Steve

    2 May 2009 at 11:33 am

  4. I, too am sorry to see the Razor and Brush store disappear. Gio always delivered the best in goods and customer service. I enjoyed perusing his site for new and exotic items. I always appreciated his warm enthusiasm when speaking to him. I wonder if his Tryphon line will go as well. If so, that’s too bad because I enjoyed those products as well. A true gentleman, Gio helped me tremendously with my indoctrination into wet shaving.

    Gogo

    2 May 2009 at 2:55 pm

  5. Well written and thoughtful observations on a man, Mr Giovanni Abrate, who has truly contributed greatly to our “Golden Age” of wet-shaving.

    Giovanni is a rarity now-a-days, a Renaissance gentleman, a man of many, many accomplishments, most of which remain unknown because as a true gentleman of the Old-School type, he never “tooted his own horn”.
    Just GOOGLE his name & you’ll be flabbergasted by his many accomplishments in life.

    One could note his fluency in at least 5 languages (that I know of). And, I
    do mean Fluent, SWMBO attests that he speaks perfect Spanish effortlessly.
    I can attest that he speaks perfect English effortlessly. I’m sure his German and French friends can attest to the same incredible fluidity of fluency.

    His accomplishments in aeronautics, music production, forensic sound analysis, and several other area’s are quite notable. Not to even mention
    his contributions to Pen-Collecting, the “Lost Cosmonauts”, etc.

    I’m amazed that he ever had the time for the prodigious work he has done
    for the Wet-Shaving community through Barberia Italiana.

    Those of us who were customer’s of Barberia ItalianaI, are the lucky ones. We were “in on it”, the fun, the products, the comraderie of a shave shop that probably will never be equaled. We’ll always have such fond memories of the Barberia Italiana !!!

    The unlucky one’s were the one’s who never participated in the unique
    experience that was Barberia Italiana, THEY MISSED OUT on something really special, something really good, something extraordinary.

    The Barberia Italiana name is still Giovanni’s right and like hundreds of other’s, we hope that someday in future he’ll be back, flying the BI flag on another grand adventure in wet shaving. When he does, we’ll be back !!!

    Thanks for the blog entries on this topic.

    hyperwarp

    2 May 2009 at 3:16 pm

  6. A very nice tribute and appreciation for a wonderful man and his creation, the Barberi Italiano. Giovanni Abrate is and will continue to be admired, and thought of as a friend to many, many people around the world.
    Fortunately, he has kept the Razor and Brush site open and does drop in with comments, etc. every now and again.
    We will truly miss BI but luckily still have Gio on the board.

    Thanks for the appreciation.

    Steve

    Steve from New Jersey

    4 May 2009 at 7:21 am

  7. I had many positive dealings with Giovanni. He was the first vendor I ever called on the phone and talked to. He turned me on to Proraso, to which I still use today. He carried a fine line of brushes and blades that you couldn’t get anywhere else at the time.

    He will be missed. Thanks for what you did Gio-

    Matt

    Matt

    14 May 2010 at 6:57 am

  8. (February 2014) I just came upon this page and its very moving tribute to my little past enterprise. I am greatly moved by your words and I want to tell you that I really enjoyed having you as friends, talking to you, meeting you and sharing our passion for classic shaving! I am still working, as a VP for an Italian corporation, I am still in Florida and my customers are the various US satellite and spacecraft manufacturers that use the attitude sensors made by the company that employs me. In three or four years, God willing, I may retire and, who knows, perhaps revive the Barbieria Italiana! For now, thanks for your past business, but even more for your friendship and camaraderie! Stay healthy, enjoy a good shave and God bless you all!
    Giovanni

    Giovanni Abrate

    22 February 2014 at 6:04 pm

  9. Giovanni, I’m delighted that you came across the post. I think you were a revolutionary force in the traditional shaving movement, opening our eyes to many new products—for example, many new brands of blades.

    I hope you are prospering, and if you open a new shaving site, by all means let me know.

    LeisureGuy

    22 February 2014 at 6:53 pm


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