When I arrived at the Dunbar shop to interview Bre and Victoria for this posting, TroyBoi was sitting in Bre’s chair getting a haircut. After he left, Victoria told me that the British rapper/DJ and his manager had been driving along the street and decided to pop in because they loved the modern design and vibe. They said it was totally different to the other local barbershops. And they’re right… Whether it’s the original Ben Tour hanging on the wall, the minimalist interior design, or the music playing, JD’s Dunbar brings a touch of Gastown, a touch of the Vancouver Club and unique personalities to the neighbourhood. This all blends with Dunbar’s quiet, family vibe to create something special. The personality is courtesy of the barbers that work there, so, let’s get to know two of the best.
Victoria came to Vancouver after growing up in Victoria, BC (yes, she’s heard all the jokes already) and started working for JD’s while still attending Blanche Macdonald. She entered what she called “Judah’s boot camp”, intensive training sessions where the boss reeducated her in the fine art of cutting hair: different ways of holding clippers, new angles to consider and hot shave training that had her gliding a razor across his own head. I am not sure if there’s a correlation between Judah’s cranium and loving hot shaves, but it’s funny that both Weldon and Victoria mentioned this particular task while being interviewed and then claimed it was their speciality. Either Judah has a magic head, or Victoria just loves treating her clients well and making them feel fresh and rejuvenated… The second is more likely. After boot camp, and some time apprenticing at the Vancouver Club, Victoria headed to Dunbar as a full time staff member.
Bre was introduced to the JD’s team through Weldon. The pair were close friends at VCC, which they both attended for hairdressing. While she didn’t get run through the same Judah boot camp as Victoria, Bre was drilled by the Dunbar manager to the same particular standards. Bre’s cutting skills even made TroyBoi’s Instagram story that day, captioned with “fresh trim alert”, so you know the training worked. I’ve got the feeling he’s not the first person to come away from her chair looking fly either. With spacers in her ears and covered in beautiful tattoos, Bre probably isn’t who you’d expect to be hanging out in Dunbar, but she has this wonderful charm that immediately puts anybody at ease. Friendly, funny and talented, it’s no surprise that neighbourhood mothers and British rap stars love her work.
Both barbers talked in length about the shop’s family vibe. Nearby one of the city’s major private schools, the shop gets teenagers hunting for ways to stand out—whether it’s stars shaved into their fade, racing stripes for that extra bit of speed on the rugby pitch, or just the best heartbreaker haircut. Victoria is very popular for the last type, and she admitted she loves doing her part in creating the next generation of handsome little devils. It’s got to the point where she said the “Handsome Devil” fade was her favourite cut—a sharp looking fade with a stylish combover. It’s the kind of look you might expect on the cover of GQ or on a soccer field, and now it’s strolling down locker-lined halls to steal hearts. Watch out, ladies and gentlemen. But it’s not just teens that bring that extra family value to the shop. The Dunbar location is the kind of place that a mother brings her child to get cleaned up, and delighted by the results, sends her husband back for a new look as well.
If you asked either barber whether or not it seemed strange that a trendy British artist can sit next to an ten year old and get their haircut, they’d just shrug and say “That’s Dunbar.” Both have been welcomed into the community to the point where regulars stop them on the street or in coffee shops to say hello. Victoria even gets her car fixed in the neighbourhood. Only a year after the shop opened, it’s clear that anybody describing Bre and Victoria will just shrug and say “They’re Dunbar"—and we’ll all know exactly what they mean.