I set out to find the oldest straight razor strop maker in the U.S.A and I am honored to, in part, write about them. It was no easy feat because Google was short on leads so I employed my Grad school research determination to dig through forums and blogs to discover the Illinois Razor Strop Company founded in 1907. The goal was within reach but after more research I discovered there was no website or social media, I was frustrated. But I kept looking and found Fromm!
I contacted Fromm but wasn’t sure what the nature of their relationship was and Emmi Barrett was soon to provide me with all the missing links with extreme courtesy and professionalism that I discovered was a lasting trait of Illinois Razor Strop Co.
Here is the story told by Fromm:
In 1907, our founder James Simon started the Illinois Razor Strop Company. At that time, leather was crafted by hand in a Chicago warehouse to create razor stops that men depended upon to keep their straight razors sharp. After more than 100 years, we are the only razor strop manufacturer in the United States. 1907 offers a pristine straight razor to compliment these classic and quality razor strops.
In 1949, James Simon’s son, Edwin, joined the company and is soon dispatched to work in a tannery to learn about how leather strops are made. He returned to the Illinois Razor Strop Co. to continue to learn and grow the business. Once we expanded from barber supplies and added salon tools, the Illinois Razor Strop Co. was able to use Chicago’s rise as an industrial hub to connect nationally. As the company grew and added product categories, it began selling Fromm Shears-known for high quality German-made shears. Fromm quickly rose by offering bestselling products, and in 1984 the decision was made to rename the company to Fromm.
In recent years, there’s been a resurgence of appreciation and interest into the art of straight razor shaving and its health benefits. Razors with multiple blades directly contribute to razor burn and ingrown hairs. More blades mean more irritation. It’s time to abandon the cheap, fast dulling, mutli-blades and invest in a straight razor with unfaltering edge sharpness.
The 1907 Razor Strop is hand crafted with top grain cowhide and comes complete with sharpening canvas and swivel. Stropping should occur before every shave to align the edge of the blade for the straightest and sharpest clean edge. To strop, attach the 1907 Razor Strop against an anchored object (like a towel bar) and pull the other end with your hand. Make sure that the strop is tight.
We received the #206 model and right away you can feel and smell the crafted leather work. A firm leather side is complemented with the “Fine Weave Linen Finish” side. The swivel is solid and sturdy. One feature of the swivel that caught my attention is the “pin” used to swivel the strop looks like a nail that has been bent! This feature must be part of the original design in 1907 and a homage to tradition. The graphics on the strop are really exciting because not only is this strop made by the OLDEST straight razor strop company in the U.S.A but it is also made in the U.S.A! A reminder that you are not holding some low-grade start up product. The #206 straight razor strop is grade A++.
Men are in constant search for grooming products that are authentic and traditional, based upon the belief that quality and craftsmanship have transcended time and technology. The Illinois Razor Strop Co. fits the criteria and has not only existed for 107 years but is unwavering in their barber products and worthy of the finest barbershops or straight razor enthusiast. A statement that best encapsulates the Illinois Straight Razor Strop Co. is, “a heritage of authentic quality passed down by generations.”