Sam Buffa, the cofounder of F.S.C. Barber, the barbershop in the back of Freemans Sporting Club in New York, is bringing his old-school barber aesthetic out West, opening shop in San Francisco with all the old-timey charm and character of its Yankee predecessor. With a nod to the haircut-and-hangout lifestyle that barbershops once evoked, Buffa and his merry gang of barbers—not hairstylists, thank you very much—have set up their gentlemen’s club on a bustling corner in the Mission. Formerly a pet supply store, the large space is now filled with mahogany woodwork, seven barber stations, and early 20th-century antiques picked up by Buffa along the way. We sat down with Buffa for a little off the top…
Describe your own haircut.
How are men’s cuts in San Francisco different from New York?
It’s great to spend time around San Francisco. I’m seeing a major resurgence of styles from the 1970s. It’s really about the outdoorsmen look right now, versus the Bowery Boy aesthetic that has run rampant around New York’s Lower East Side and Williamsburg.
What do men get from a barbershop that they can’t get from a salon?
There are a lot of differences between barbershop hairstyles and those from salons. We hire stylists or barbers that have that background so we can give the guys who come in exactly what they want. It’s also about a quiet confidence and comfort level from the laid-back environment of barbershops. It just feels right.
Can ladies come?
Of course. Our barbers do men’s style haircuts, so our women customers know what to expect.
Who’s the dream F.S.C. Barber client?
There isn’t anyone in particular. It’s more about the guy who enjoys being here and appreciates what we are doing.
What’s the strangest styling request you’ve had at F.S.C. Barber?
Most of the requests are pretty standard, but we once had a guy come in and ask for a Ziggy Stardust, and his head was shaved.
How did it turn out?
We had to tell the guy, “Sorry, we can’t grow hair.”
What’s the latest hair trend for men?
Men are into throwback barber cuts right now—very refined shorter hair. We also do a lot more fades than when we first opened, so I would say it’s trendy.
Which do you prefer, mullets or ducktails?
Who needs more help, Rod Blagojevich or Donald Trump?
They both have hair issues.
Who would you rather style, Elvis Presley or Frank Sinatra?
Sinatra. He looks better in a suit.
If given the opportunity, how would you groom San Francisco Giants pitcher Brian Wilson’s beard?
He can do whatever he wants. Fear the beard!
Did he inspire your beard?
I have had a beard since 1990.
Who’s head of hair will best replace former San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom?
No one can take the throne away from him.
Maybe Brian Wilson’s beard would make a good replacement. Will you vote for him to be our next mayor?
F.S.C. Barber, 696 Valencia St, 415-621-9000