Julian Maloney, who owns the incredibly popular Maloney's Barber Shop with his lovely wife Sue, has been cutting Auckland blokes' hair for 20 years now. First for others in Ponsonby and then at Maloney's for the last 12 years. The Maloneys have just had to expand to two floors and very soon six barbers as the queues have been out the door for haircuts at their friendly, fun and fabulously retro establishment.

It's fair to say Julian and his crew know a thing or two about Auckland men - two decades of chatting to them almost every day will do that. He thinks they're a pretty great bunch of guys and here's why:


Maloney's is responsible for taking a blade to the neck of one of the most important New Zealanders, Richie McCaw.
Photo / Sue Maloney

So you have been in daily contact with Auckland men for 20 years. What can you tell us about them?

I really enjoy having the privilege of encountering such a diverse range of people through work. There are some great characters and I'm really loving the fact that Auckland men are now not so embarrassed of trying to make an effort to look good. There's been a shift over the years and whereas before a bloke could have been mocked for even putting wax in his hair, it's no longer an issue. We love cutting these guys' hair and sending them off feeling great about how they look. Kind of like giving them a crisp new shirt to wear.

So what do they talk about? Every woman would love to know what kind of chat goes on in such a male domain.

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It's kind of stereotypical stuff most of the time. A lot of sports chat, music, pop culture. A lot of nothing sometimes too. Guys love to come in here and just be part of the banter and put-downs that go on between blokes. With five chairs, soon to be six, there can be some quite opinionated loud discussions between barbers and clients and a lot of ribbing. It's great fun for everyone.

They also like to talk about the latest restaurants, bars and events round town. I've really noticed an increase in city pride in Auckland dwellers in recent years. People are loving living here with all the new hospitality developments. It's like Auckland has become a lot cooler, almost by accident, and there's now this great dining and drinking scene that encompasses all ages and types of people.

So what about less superficial stuff? Do they talk about their significant others and other deeper topics?

Not as much as women do, for sure! But they do talk about their wives and partners. It's pretty complimentary usually and I do wonder sometimes if blokes are as praising of their partners in front of them as they are with us. We do hear a lot of talk about how their partners give them heaps about their clothes, haircuts and facial hair. That's a common thread, but it's all good natured! The only guys who talk a lot about women are the ones who've been married three times; they don't stop!

I do also hear a lot about the general pressure guys feel about the demands of modern life. Balancing work, kids' sports commitments and family is hard and I hear a lot of blokes feeling like they don't have a great deal of personal time.

We also often hear about the struggles of the property market. Many younger guys seem really resigned to the fact that they will never own a house with the way prices are going. I don't know if this is true but it's sad to hear they feel this way.

Speaking of younger clients, what have you observed about the next generation of Auckland men?

The ones we see, and it's probably an indication of their generation in general, are really focused and have high self-belief. I feel like they know what they want a lot more than we did at that age. They still do their OEs but rather than drifting around in VW combis like we did, they seem to be tending more towards getting a qualification and a couple of years work experience before heading off. Working visa laws are tighter these days too, so they are more planned about what they might do overseas to maximise their two years.

We do need to talk about your wonderful beard and the rise in blokes sporting them recently.

Absolutely. Beards have definitely seen a huge resurgence this year and I love the way we are seeing typically conservative guys like accountants and lawyers sporting them too. I think it's a real statement that being clean shaven does not define being professional and taking pride in yourself. I also think it's great that it's one of the few things that only blokes can do. It's nice for both sexes to have some things that are exclusively masculine or exclusively feminine and beards are one of them.

And we hear it was Maloney's where Richie McCaw was recently shaved for the Movember campaign.

Yes, it was great to have him in the shop. Our very talented barber, Anthony Apelu, did very well with the pressure of having a razor so close to the neck of one of New Zealand's favourite people. We have had a long involvement with Movember, as it's a charity very dear to our hearts, and it was awesome to support it in this way.