Just off Boundary Street in Shoreditch, London, is a hidden gem known as Haco Hair. The front is trailed with plants, and inside it’s got all the makings of a minimalist haven with touches of art deco styling.
The creative director, Teiji Utsumi, is a renowned hairstylist and fashion enthusiast. His work has graced the pages of Vogue worldwide, Beauty Papers, Dazed, and Another Magazine. He’s done campaigns for brands like Adidas, Red Valentino, and Selfridges, and he and his team make regular appearances behind the scenes at Fashion Week. His colleagues have included celebrity makeup artist Lisa Eldridge and iconic British model Stella Tennant.
No small feat, but this little salon is a new venture. Doors opened in Autumn 2020, during the world chaos, and it has already made a name for itself with countless five-star reviews.
Growing up in the historical town of Nara, where the spotted deer wander through the streets, Teiji dreamed of being a fashion designer at first. He became fascinated by hair as a teenager and started doing it professionally at just 16, but his love of music led him to Britain.
“I was really into UK rock music which made me come to London,” he says. His favorite bands include Led Zeppelin, Oasis, and The Cure – and you can see how these have influenced his style options today. His style is all about edgy cuts with fun colors and lots of texture. He’s even mastering the mullet as classics looks never die.
Once he arrived here, he found it a little more challenging to get work. “There are not many hair salons where freelancers can work.” He cites “looking for something new to do” as the most challenging part of his career so far, but originally it was a photographer friend that asked him to get involved in a photoshoot. From there, his career blossomed into a tour de force of fashion work.
Teiji and his team at the salon get a lot of inspiration from vintage styles in popular culture. The Haco Hair Instagram is a celebration of the best 80s and 90s haircuts (think Meg Ryan, Kurt Cobain, and Angelina Jolie). They specialize in Japanese digital perms, which sound pretty futuristic but are a massive hair trend at the moment. The hair is wrapped around rods that use digitally-regulated infrared heat and chemicals on the hair to create natural volume and slightly softer, looser curls than the old-fashioned tight ringlet styles we know so well. The effects are said to be less damaging and last longer than a traditional perm, too.
There’s a lot of fashion experience within the Haco Hair salon. “When I saw them, I felt the right person straight away,” Teiji says when picking the team at Haco. Their credentials are impressive, too, with work from brands like Alexander McQueen and Burberry under their belt, including many glowing reviews from previous customers about how knowledgeable and tailored their service is. The Haco Hair experience also includes gentle nods to Teiji’s culture, with wabi-sabi and Japanese tea to be enjoyed at the salon.
When discussing his past projects, Teiji notes, “I always enjoy working for magazine shoots,” but he is particularly fond of “90s based color styles”. As a result, his style direction moved away from the pastel colors that have been everywhere in the past few years, preferring the style of contrast colors, brights with short and layered cuts.
Love for art
Art plays a huge part in the whole team’s inspiration for their looks. “I started looking at fashion magazines and music magazines when I was 12,” Teiji says. He has collected fashion books and photographs throughout his career and has now put them up for sale, with the proceeds going to The British Red Cross. “I’ve been working for the fashion industry for a long time, and I know lots of artists which I wanted to introduce to my clients.”
His collection includes books from Juergen Teller, the iconic German fashion photographer, with the infamous image of Kate Moss with bright red hair on the cover. He’s also got signed prints from Yoshiyuki Okuyama, the 30-year-old Japanese photographer making waves in the industry at the moment.
Haco hair also sells a few hair products specially curated from the Swedish brand Sachajuan. The vegan and sustainable credentials of the products are clearly the values of Teiji’s company and their affiliation with the Little Princess Trust – a charity providing wigs to children who have cancer. Teiji’s appointments at the salon are limited due to his other commitments, but he promises a free haircut to anyone willing to donate more than seven inches of hair.
Custom-ordered wigs can also be purchased online or at the salon. They show up throughout his magazine work in creative colors, playing with volume and mixing styles – he’s even got his own hashtag for them.
Teiji is looking to the future of Haco Hair – maybe focusing on creating his own products. “There are not many products which are good for Asian hair,” he says. “I would like to produce some” to the delight of his clients and Nakama readers alike.
Check out the Haco Hair Instagram for a look at some amazing styles.