May 9, 2022 | Community

Shear satisfaction

Author: Alice Hill

Clip n Shave - Brunswick Daily

Michael Di’lecce’s barbershop, Clip N Shave For Men, has been open at its Victoria Street location for 27 years. Just off Sydney Road, the shop is positioned amongst a short strip of stores including a pizza place, a liquor store, and a custom shirt retailer. The unpretentious storefront and classic, masculine fitout – featuring an impressive collection of Elvis memorabilia – promise quality, no-nonsense haircuts.

‘When I meet [clients] for the first time I spend that extra 10 or 15 minutes asking 50 million questions,’ says Michael, ‘And I always go a fraction longer than what they’ve actually told me ‘cause I can always take a little bit more off. I can’t put it back. If I could, I’d be doing it to myself!’ he laughs, gesturing to his own smooth scalp. 

“I was allowed to do whatever I wanted …. so I went off doing hair cuts!” Photo: Michael Di’lecce. Source: Brunswick Daily

After decades of barbering, Michael, 53, says the difference between a good haircut and a great haircut is all in the grow out: ‘If it grows out nicely, in proportion, then it’s a good cut. [My clients] just have to tell me what was shit about it,’ he says. ‘I don’t ask them what was good about it, I say, “what was shit about the haircut as it was growing out?”’ 

In his youth, Michael spent many days at his uncle’s barbershop filling in time before evening shifts at his parent’s restaurant. ‘[My uncle] drew me into it. I was bored during the day. I was allowed to do whatever I wanted as long as I was back at [the restaurant] at a certain time, so I went off doing haircuts and then back to work at night.’ Michael’s uncle sent him to school, igniting a passion that grew into a lifelong career.

Originally from South Caulfield, Michael started out working in a number of barber shops in the South Eastern suburbs before he met his wife, moved northside, and opened his own business. ‘When I first came to Brunswick it was very much a working class area, lot of factories. I’m starting to see the demographics change. [A younger generation is] coming back because their parents own property here and Brunswick is the place to be at the moment. It’s a good area. I love the diverse culture, it’s what I really like around here. And people are friendly here I have to admit. You could walk down the street, people say hello to you.’

It’s people that truly drive Michael’s work: ‘One of the biggest satisfactions is the friendships you make out of the job. They start off as a client and then you become friends. They tell me everything. The only disadvantage I’ve got is if I was a psychiatrist I could charge them a lot more!’ he jokes. It’s clear from his expression that Michael has a lot of affection for his clients, many of whom he would consider family.

Clip n shave - Brunswick Daily

“On of the biggest satisfactions is the friendships you make out of the job” Photo: Michael and Kyle. Source: Brunswick Daily

Some of Michael’s clients had their first haircuts with him when they were young children coming in with their parents. He has watched them grow and change along with the landscape of Brunswick, and he talks about them with almost paternal pride: ‘[There’s] one particular young boy that’s come here, I’m actually watching him get engaged now. He’s telling me he’s getting married, and I s’pose by the time he comes with his child I s’pose it’s probably time for me to give it up.’ He smiles as he says this, and so despite his words it’s not hard to imagine Michael waiting until he meets the young man’s grandchild before hanging up the clippers. 

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Visit Michael at his barbershop located at 310 Victoria Street (almost corner with Sydney Road). Breathe Brunswick’s history from within in the company of Elvis Presley, local blokes, and the anecdotes that build our history. Enjoy the incomparable attention to detail that Mike gives to your haircut and most importantly, to your words.

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