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Dollar-cost-average your haircut
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Investing in yourself is an interesting concept and in these cash-strapped times, poses some good questions. Just how much should you splash out on hairdressers, make-up, clothes and all that goes into looking your best? And in your case, guys, on dry cleaning suits and soup-stained ties, eyebrow trims, good haircuts, and pruning that nasal and ear fur that so often sprouts after 40. Of course, if your job requires regular television appearances, you wouldn’t think twice before heading to the beauty parlour, but for those of us who just need to pass muster for the office and friends, how much is too much?
Hong Kong’s celebrity hairdresser Kim Robinson charges US$1,000 (HK$7,800) for a haircut. To me, that is a snip too far, but Mr R is vigorously defensive. “When I cut your hair, it looks good for months and months. That’s the difference between that and a haircut that needs re-doing every three or four weeks,” he insists, adding one of his mop chops can last up to three or four months.
“So if you amortise that, looking good every day, that is an intelligent investment, whereas someone else might have to go to the hairdresser three times a week, because they can’t even do it, and time is money,” he adds.
Even when he does highlights, they only need doing three times a year, he says. (Ms Average has them done every six weeks or so.) “Most women have roots after a month, because they are too far away from their natural colour,” he insists.
I know what he means. That corn-growing-through- tarmac thing is so tacky. He’s on a roll. “And it’s not believable and to maintain that is a big expense in money and time. If you can afford it, you are getting a great cut (from me) that you can manage yourself.” The majority of women on the street have bad hair days every day, he says, “they look awful to me. It’s because they can’t manage it and it doesn’t look good.”
But a thousand US dollars to keep my fringe out of my eyes? I don’t think so. Of course some rich people take it to the other extreme. Apparently Joyce Ma, founder of retail empire Joyce and very wealthy, takes perverse pride in tracking down the cheapest haircut, even though she could presumably afford Mr R’s golden scissors. Every time she goes to the United States, she gets her hair cut for US$6, I’m reliably told.
Bag ladies head west
Today’s news that the surge in cross-border visitors is unlikely to lift retail sales is no big surprise. The Hong Kong Retail Management Association says the central government’s decision to relax entry permits for residents of six mainland cities won’t set the tills ringing and in fact, could make the city too crowded, thereby deterring other big spending tourists.
They’re missing the point here. China’s shoppers are much savvier than that. Talk to the big luxury brands and you’ll hear a different story. The number of Mainlanders coming in or out of Hong Kong is a red herring, especially in the luxury A list brand sector. They say their big market is Chinese people, for sure, but the real growth and potential is not here or across the border. Nor is it Japan or South Korea. The smart Chinese buyers of expensive designer French and Italian handbags and shoes are bypassing China’s sales taxes and risk of counterfeit products and Hong Kong’s crowded streets. Instead they’re stuffing their wallets with muscular RMB and heading for Europe, where they trade them for wimpy Euros and enjoy cheaper shopping with a wider choice and have a good holiday into the bargain.