Meet the Man. The industry icon that founded American Crew back in 1994 starting a revolution that changed men’s grooming forever.
A hairdresser first and a photographer second, Raccuglia personally laid the foundation of the men’s grooming category as we know it today, raising American Crew to its current position as a world leader. David triggered a global revolution in the beauty industry that paved the way for men’s grooming to become a powerhouse business worldwide.
Today, David Raccuglia works as Senior VicePresident of Business Development at Revlon Inc. with his main focus being American Crew. He is responsible for creativity in new product development and is in charge of all American Crew imagery. David also contributes to engineering American Crew’s educational programs to be relevant to today’s grooming professionals.
More than 20 years later after founding American Crew, how do you envision the men’s grooming business today?
“Men’s grooming is now one of the largest growing categories in the salon industry –no longer a niche market– and it feels very good to finally being recognized for what we’ve been working on since 1994. We are very excited to be living that prophecy it’s now true: men’s salons and barbershops are opening every day and more and more men are looking for high quality haircuts and grooming experiences. For 20 years, American Crew has fought tirelessly to make this category not only relevant, but a huge opportunity for the salon business. And now it’s happening!“
What is American Crew’s main legacy?
“In an era of ‘unisex’ we preached that the men deserved 50% of the market. And after 20 years, to reflect back and see that this prophecy came true is very fulfilling. It’s nice to see that many brands come out now with something that we’ve already done. But we are already at the next level. We keep moving and innovating to define a whole new era. Being 22 years old, American Crew is not the brand that your father uses – we are also the brand that is relevant to the current groomer, even in their teens and twenties. And I feel that’s not what a lot of people are doing in this category right now. They’re imitating what American Crew was, they’re copying it… but our duty as a global leader is always to be ahead of the game, we are always innovating.“
Fiber is probably one of the most iconic men’s grooming products of all time. Does American Crew already have a new hero product?
“Some of the products that we are working on are going to be our future icons. I really can’t give much detail, but think about this: now the men’s category is divided in two different schools. The old school is all about classic men’s grooming, steeped in history, into barbering and its classic looks. The new school looks for younger, longer, more relevant texture and shape, not as greasy, not slathered in products… I believe that our next icon is going to be a hybrid product that speaks to this new school category.“
Some years ago you anticipated this amazing barbering movement we have today. Is this something is going to last?
“Absolutely. Barbering is definitely something that’s here to stay. There will be more and more barbershops popping up all over the world. This is not a trend: it’s about going back to a traditional culture, as if men had just lost touch with grooming for a while. We are returning to a point where men feel more at ease at the barbershop. At the same time there will be more opportunities for barbers to work also at unisex salons. Stylists in beauty salons should also learn how to barber, because men are now more savvy and are expecting high-quality haircuts and a certain level of service – so I think this spurs the whole industry to raise the bar.”
How do you envision the future of the men’s grooming category in terms of business?
“I think a unisex hair salon today must understand that they have to engage male consumers as well… or face losing those clients. More than ever, most men are just not comfortable walking into mostly woman’s salons. They want to know that pros in these salons are trained in cutting men’s hair. So these salons need to convey this message through social media & advertising. They have to change their mindset and demonstrate their commitment to men’s hair or they are simply going to lose business.”
What can you tell me about beards? Are they finally over in 2016?
“No! Over recent years, old school beards became a trend and now what I see is that beards are classic. Many men just look better with a beard!“
American Crew it’s defined by its products but also by its iconic, black & white imagery. Where do you find your inspiration as a photographer?
“The different eras of photography have inspired my work at American Crew along the way. I often go back and look at the way men groomed, look at photographers like William Claxton and how he photographed Chet Baker, Robert Frank or so many other photographers that inspire me because there’s a sense of authenticity in their work. And that’s what I’m always looking for in American Crew images: authenticity, the idea of men really owning their looks because it’s their life. There’s a big difference between this kind of photography and a fashion or beauty shoot where hairdressers do their magic. American Crew men are authentic – we don’t want to change their fashion, their lifestyle, or their work: most men have to live very comfortably within their own ‘jagra’.“
One of the most exciting moments of the year for American Crew is the All-Star Challenge. Tell us your feelings about it.
“The All-Star Challenge is a game changer for our industry. Besides getting so busy with stylists working in a project that I like so much, I love the global aspect of it: having all these countries present their imagery and being able to see what the world envisions as the next look for the men’s grooming category. It’s just amazing for our company. I’m always astounded by the amount of talent involved in the All-Star Challenge, so I can tell you I’m very proud to be part of it: I come very humble and I leave very honored. Although I used to shoot celebrities and fantastic top models, working with these people makes me better every year. This is by far one of my favorite annual events!“
By Sergi Bancells