The barbershop has long been an important part of many communities, especially black ones. Historically, it’s a place where men specifically feel free to express uninhibited opinions on current events, receive unsolicited (but helpful) advice and leave with newfound confidence a fresh cut bestows. The Classic Man Barber Lounge in New York City aims to elevate the traditional idea of the barbershop by creating a fresh, inclusive space where all people are welcomed with open arms.

Former law school classmates Isiah Michael and Cassandre Davilmar wanted a one-stop shop where busy New Yorkers could come and unwind while getting a haircut, tightening their locs and even enjoying a fresh mani/pedi. While visiting and trying out the services myself on behalf of Blavity, Michael detailed how the idea for Classic Man came together.

“If you’re a black, Latino male working in a corporate environment in New York, and if you’re getting your haircut, you have to go out to Harlem or Brooklyn to find a comfortable establishment. You have to take a 45-minute to an hour commute when you’re working or living in this area [Lower Manhattan],” Michael told Blavity. “So, the mindset was, let’s have something that’s close by. That idea transitioned to us making it all-inclusive. We could have a barber team that is black, Latino, gay, straight, male, female — and even do manicures and pedicures. Let’s just do everything, because it’s New York. So, why not, right?”

Mark Clennon

As Michael stated, the staff is definitely diverse. The barber that served me during my visit was Frank Billini, a Dominican New York native who has been cutting hair for over a decade. While masterfully transforming my kinky, full head of hair into a slick, tapered flat-top, he shared with me why he dropped a career in marketing for cutting hair. “I saw that the industry was booming, so I said, ‘Let me do this.’ It makes me happy,” Billini said. “It’s not like a sales job where you’re selling somebody something. I’m just delivering confidence. That feels so dope.”

Like the pro he is, Billini ended my session with a clean shave, followed by a warm towel and face massage.

Next up was a fantastic manicure and pedicure by one of the in-house nail groomers, Astara D'Antonio, a former DJ who found her way to the shop from a Craigslist ad. She made my hands and feet feel like new. She also made it a point to make me feel as comfortable as possible. Hand and foot care is a healthy service that many men are apprehensive to indulge in. The non-judgmental energy of Classic Man works overtime to hopefully change that for many.

As if the incredible pampering wasn’t enough, I sipped on a delicious complimentary alcoholic beverage the entire time; it’s a wonderful perk offered to every client coming in for the “classic man/woman” treatment.

Mark Clennon

Another feature of the unique shop is that it’s open 24/7. This is an interesting move that makes the shop accessible, no matter how busy your life may be. “If we have clients at three o’clock in the morning, who have to catch a flight at six, and want to come and get a haircut and a shave beforehand, we’ll be available,” Michael said. 

Additionally, the shop is located on East Ninth Street between First Avenue and Avenue A. The block has the feel of a warm, quiet community and is void of any big-box chain businesses. Michael explained why that was an intentional decision. “The area just feels like a [traditional] New York part of the city, in the sense that you get a lot of [people] walking around, and not like walking to a train or going somewhere else. And you have a lot of other small businesses around.”

On the Instagram page of co-founder Davilmar, she posted a photo of one of the Classic Man barbers laser focused on perfecting a client’s icy line-up. She captioned the picture,“It’s been fun creating a space for men and women to just relax and leave feeling great. We’ve had fun convos with clients and neighbors. We are growing everyday. But for now, I’m just happy we exist.”

And, just like her, I’m sure the unique shop’s existence will bring many clients just as much joy.

Classic Man is located on 443-445 East 9th Street in New York, New York.

For more information and to book an appointment, visit