Safety razors are far from new. Created by Frenchman Jean-Jacques Perrett who found inspiration in hand-plane construction in the late 1700s, the safety razor has seen countless iterations—most of these under Gillette. In 1901, Wisconsin-native King Camp Gillette filed a patent for the first disposable razor blades. Between 1903 and 1904 the titan sold 12 million disposable blades (to the dismay of our landfills). From then on, the industry leader has released a new addition to the original design every few years. From pivoting heads to additional blades to lubricating strips, Gillette's razors are tricked out. And due to King Camp Gillette's loss leader sales tactic, their blades boast a pretty hefty price tag. Dollar Shave Club burst on to the razor scene in 2011, catering to the bros and offering a convenience of delivery that reduces what every consumer hates about buying razors: a trip to the store, excessive plastic displays and packaging, and unjustified prices. The e-commerce shave club certainly swings hard at industry giants, yet buying razors straight from Dollar Shave Club's supplier, Dorco can cost less.
So, between major brands like Gillette, Bic, Schick and now Dollar Shave Club, do we really need more razors? The answer seems to be "Yes." While the Dollar Shave Club targets the bros with convenience, industry new-comer Harry's targets "sophisticated" men with quality. Created by one of the Warby Parker founders Jeff Raider and partner Andy Katz-Mayfield, Harry's brings something new to the ring: incredible craftsmanship and direct manufacturing.
Unlike its competitors, Harry's owns its own factory in Eisfeld, Germany. After testing countless razor blades from all over the world, the duo chose the Chroma blade. The double edge blade is created by the "gothic arch cut" technique in which the raw steel is tempered and fed through a series of grinders by a rotating wheel, before being deburred by a cutting machine and fed onto the magazine. Utilizing both sides of the blade, the cut sharpens the metal to create a parabolic edge.
While the wider base offers strength, the sharp tip and bow shape reduce friction, generating the shave you've always wanted. The blade's superiority comes not just from form, but also material. Sourcing only the "highest-quality" steel, Harry's alters the material's nanostructure by heating the metal to 2,000°F, then cooling it to less than -100°F before reheating the steel to 500°F. After being repeatedly heated and cut, the blades are doused in chromium nitrate plasma to harden the material and PTFE, similar to Teflon, which reduces friction to induce a smoother shave.
The steel blades may take center stage, but the rest of the razor is just as well considered. Injection molded cartridges house the blades, which are able to contour the skin just as desired due to the thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) rubber flex hinges. The weighted handles, either the "Winston" or "Truman," are refined and ergonomic, with patterned detailing for an enhanced grip and optimized control.
Harry's clean and functional craftsmanship is not limited to their razors, but extends all the way to product packaging and shipping. In a small, simple cardboard box comes a bag containing "everything you need for a smooth shave": a leaflet with shaving tips, a small piece of paper detailing the self explanatory process of switching razor heads and of course, the razor itself which slides out from a minimal, thin cardboard box. The box's inside mimics the pattern shown on the side of Harry's barber shop in SoHo, New York.
With prime real estate on Times Square billboards, New York City subway banner advertisements, promoted Facebook ads and a new retail partnership with Target, Harry's has become hard to ignore.
To call Harry's branding detail oriented would be an understatement. Maybe it's the always capitalized, declarative font, or the recurring iconography and patterns, or their Instagram marketing that feels like a grown-up, refined scavenger hunt; but somehow, Harry's lures you in.
A shave with a Harry's razor feels like it's backed by close to 100 years of German craftsmanship. And once you have that, for less than $2 per blade, you'll never go back to your overpriced, unnecessarily tricked out store-bought razor blades ever again.
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