BY JACQUELINE TAN
Since we’re midway through Movember in Singapore, the Poached Mag fashion team is busy interviewing style icons of (and contributors to) the movement. First up is Feroze McLeod – tattooist, barber and founder of Hounds of the Baskervilles, a traditional barbershop and tattoo parlour that is one-of-a-kind in Singapore. One must have heard this tagline shamelessly plugged one too many times: “one-of-a-kind”. What does it mean to be one-of-a-kind in Singapore? Hounds of the Baskervilles shows it is through commitment to a certain style philosophy that is so traditional, so back-to-the-basics, that we ironically find it so refreshing. Backward? Not quite. Nostalgic? Maybe. Unique? Definitely.
Sit back, smooth your mo’ and let us take you to the 1920s – of traditional barbershops, the birth of the suit, lapels, coiffed hair – with the added punch of cutting-edge tattoos.
One cannot miss Hounds of the Baskervilles when taking a stroll along Bali Lane. Its décor jumps out – the red-bricked walls, the leather barbershop chairs that swivel (remember those?), the framed photographs of old-school tattoos and inspirations.
The lads working offer immaculate, personal service without the hassle of polite, patronizing conversation (i.e. swearing is allowed, even welcomed) while painstakingly dressed in styles reminiscent of the 1920s themselves: vests, suits, ties, trousers … and of course, perfectly coiffed hair.
Feroze (right) with his fellow hound, KC
We bask in the interior’s warm, orange glow till Feroze invited us to his ‘office’, his tattoo parlour. While chatting, he whips out his iPhone to show us photographs of his best inspirations. We forget time as we swap inspirations and travel stories. At one point, I even revealed the design for my next tattoo. “Ah, man,” Feroze says appreciatively. It’s safe to say this man loves his craft.
You came up with the name “Hounds of the Baskervilles.” So are you a fan of Sherlock Holmes?
I had the name floating around for about four to five years, when I planned the shop. In the book, the hound is not really a hound – that’s the kind of vibe I wanted to set with the shop. Like a mystery, kind of a legend … I wanted that kind of undertone and mood to the shop. When people heard about it, it’d be like a legend, a myth – “what, really?” I used “Hound(s)” because there’s a group of different artists [in here], a group of craftsmen doing different things. The way I look at it, we’re a collection of craftsmen who get together.
Let’s talk about your own style philosophy and the dress code you guys have for yourselves in here.
I’m influenced by things from the 1920-1930s. When I come here, it kind of gives me a little sanctuary where I feel OK to look like a fool -
We don’t think you look like a fool!
Yeah, well, to other guys, I might (laughs). Girls dress up a lot, but guys don’t [as much]. I believe that if people see a group of people dressed nicely [like this] it becomes more acceptable – as opposed to just one person dressed nicely. So hopefully one day people can dress however they want to dress – if they over-dress, so be it!
Do you Hounds consider yourselves style icons for men in Singapore today?
Nah, I don’t want to put it that way … I just want to share what I can do to make a guy look better. My own hair is so crappy! I feel like with the years of practice on my own hair, I can control most of others’.
Let’s talk about tattoos. You guys only do customized tattoos? If someone comes in with a design and wants it exactly such, would you guys do it?
Yeah they can do that – we’d advise against it but if they really want it, we’d do it. But the designing process is a craft in itself.
What inspires you when it comes to tattoos?
I love tattoos that came out from the ’40s: Sailor Jerry, and all the old guys that came after him – [Bert] Grimm … So we may do customized tattoos, but I don’t know, tattooing itself is still a craft, so if some guy came in with a Sailor Jerry flash, I’d do it exactly the way Sailor Jerry did it, ’cause it’s the craft of how he did it. Makes it so old-school. And at the same time I really like to call the tattoos we do “bespoke” because we really cater to exactly what the client wants – it’s really made to fit personally, as an individual.
So you guys are official ambassadors of the Movember movement. What’s your most rewarding experience so far?
Yeah, the free shaves and stuff. It’s been really fun man. We like to help them out. Also, people got to know about us. Previously they didn’t even know something like this existed here.
Did you expect the response from general public?
Yeah, I knew it was coming. I knew there was a hunger. I’ve been planning this shop for about four to five years now, so even the timing was planned. We had planned to open near the end of the year, you know, when people want to get new haircuts for Christmas and stuff.
So what’s going to happen in 2013? Anything exciting?
More guest barbers and stuff. We plan to keep it chilled out here.
Did you take a long time to grow your moustache?
I took about six months to grow it nicely. I’ve had it for about a year-and-a-half. I don’t have my black wax on today though – usually it looks a lot nicer (laughs).
Regarding men’s health, do you feel men can now talk openly about their health issues? Or there’s still a stigma?
I think there’s still a stigma, yeah … I mean, my dad doesn’t even talk to me about it. It’s really scary man. I hope people can start to talk openly about it.
If you could have a slogan for Movember, what would it be?
Go hard, or go home.
Hounds of the Baskervilles:
24 Bali Lane
Singapore, Singapore 189860
Image credits: Hounds of the Baskervilles