The Oldest Straight Razor Strop Company In The U.S.A


I set out to find the oldest straight razor strop maker in the U.S.A and I am honored to, in strop end with bovine razorpart, 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 strop end with top grain cowhidecategories, 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 strop end with barbers bestswivel 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.”

Mr. M

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The True Art Of Shaving: Suavecito Shave Product Line

We received the entire shaving product line from Suavecito Pomade and here are our suavecito products together articlethoughts on each of the products and a little video for you to enjoy.

Shave Oil- A few drops rubbed into the shave area produces a thin layer of oil that allows the razor to easily glide along your face.

Shave Creme-The creme is pre-whipped and requires little effort to produce a thick lather. The skin pores are opened and stubborn stubble doesn’t stand a chance. The peppermint really brings your skin to life and prepares for the closest shave possible.

Vanishing Creme-  Apply after the shave and work into skin until it vanishes! Yes, it really absorbs into your skin and heals the shave area. The menthol heightens sensitivity and revitalizes the pores.

Bay Rum- The classic barber shop fragrance stings you back to reality but feels damn good and smells great!

All in all, the products are great and will impress the novice and expert alike.



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Classic Style With Great Performance: Parker Safety Razor 100% Best Badger Hair Shave Brush

When it comes to shaving one of the most natural and primal instruments to promote the endeavor for BBS is the shaving brush. While many companies are producing amazing Parker 100% Best Badger brushshave soaps and creams, a high quality brush is just as important as a good razor. We just received a handmade Parker Safety Razor 100% Best Badger Hair Brush in white with a chrome handle.

A little bit about Parker Safety Razors, they were established 40 years ago and have been creating shaving products that range from safety razors to shave soaps.  The products are sold worldwide with a commitment to wet shaving that is indicative in their products and variety.

A quick reference to why a quality shave brush is crucial: 1. It retains warm/hot water that will open the pores, 2. Massages the skin and preps it, 3. Raises hairs and stubble that are beneath the surface of the skin, 4. Lathers the skin to provide a smooth and clean shave, 5. Efficiently applies soaps or creams to the face.

The most important aspects of a shave brush is the hair type and grade. While boar hair is extremely affordable the badger hair retains more water and provides superior performance. Secondly, the grade of the hair is debatable and the Best Badger Hair is #3. The rankings are determined by by the location the hair was taken from, color, softness and increased water retention (#1 Silvertip, #2 Super Badger).

Now on to the review of the Parker 100% Best Badger Hair Brush. The brush came in a little black box that reminded me of the Allen Edmonds shoe boxes that are solid and carefully protect the contents. Opening it up I discovered the bubble wrapped brush and black stand. After unwrapping it the brush felt solid and the bristles looked great. The chrome handle and white body have classic and high end appeal. One criticism I have read is that the brush is “heavy” due to the chrome handle. I completely disagree becausebrush on stand the brush already has a manly girth on the body and the bit of added weight on the handle reinforces that you are using a man’s shaving instrument.

The brush needed to be treated before the first use. I did this by soaking it in warm water with some soap for a few minutes then thoroughly rinsing. I repeated this process 5 times, then I placed it in the stand and let it hang dry. A few bristles came off the brush but nothing that was of any concern.

In the first test I used Shiner Gold Shave Soap, which is all natural with coconut oil and peppermint to name a few ingredients. The brush lathered extremely well and felt soft and firm but not abrasive on the skin. The softness came from the bristles spreading out as I rotated the brush in a circular motion while the firm bristles gently lifted the stubble off my face. The razors glided effortlessly on my face and produced a smooth and clean shave.

In the second test I used Suavecito Shave Crème, which I use with very little water in the brush and your face essentially becomes the mixing bowl to produce the lather. This test would be the real challenge because you do not rely upon generous amounts of water to create lather. I pulled the brush out of the warm water and removed almost all the water, I then dipped it in the shave crème and began to mix it on my face. I was pleasantly surprised because the lather was perfect! Not too thick and not too thin. The razor was happy to meet my face!

All in all, the brush is a great product from Parker Safety Razors and looks great on my counter! If you are looking for a shave brush that won’t break the bank and comes from a company committed to the wet shave industry then look no further because Parker delivers. Typically the words value and quality are diametrically opposed to one another but Parker has united them and produced an aesthetically pleasing product with classic style and great performance.

 Mr. M


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Shave With A Quality All Natural Product, Shiner Gold Shave Soap

We are pleased to have Shiner Gold Shave Soap, visit our shop to purchase

– All Natural shave soap, Lathers really easy, 3 oz., Made in the USA

– Spearmint and coconut scent, leaves your face feeling fresh and rejuvenated.

Shiner gold shave soap jpeg

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The Craft Of Straight Razor Shaving, Schorem Haarsnijder En Barbier Part II


The importance of shaving can be traced all the way back to the Pharaohs of Egypt where archeologist have discovered copper and gold razors in their tombs. The razors were placed in the Pharaoh’s tomb to make sure they would be well groomed in the afterlife (sometimes their barbers were also buried with them!). Shaving is one thing that all Gentlemen will have to address, either grow a beard or shave. The craft of straight razor shaving has changed very little in the last few centuries and quality barbers are continuing the tradition.

Master Barber Bertus of Schorem Haarsnijder En Barbier in Rotterdam, Netherlands is well versed in the craft of straight razor shaving and teamed up with Gentlemen’s Avenue to produce this article. The founders of Schorem, Bertus and Leen, are Master Barbers and each have 22 years of experience.

The shop in Rotterdam has a French art deco mirror case that is an absolute eye catcher and dates back to 1890 (image on left). According to Bertus, “We found it in an antique store in Belgium and fell in love right away; all hand crafted drawers, marble plates and a 100 year old mirror in perfect condition.” The mirror case was made for a barbershop in 1890 and found a home at Schorem. The mirror case is not only decorative but serves a function because it stores clients’ shavers.

Schorem not only offers world-class haircuts but also two types of straight razor shaves, “original” and “normal”. The original is done with a shaver that belongs to the client and can stored in the mirror case.  The normal shave is done with replaceable blades or shavettes.

An essential tool for straight razor shaving is a double-sided strop that has a leather and canvas side. The leather side is used to sharpen the straight razor and the canvas side warms up the blade and removes microscopic imperfections. The strop is used before the shave begins and once during the shave.

The towels used by Schorem prepare the patron and skin for shaving and creates a memorable experience. The hot towels serve two functions: 1) soften the hair, 2) open the pores so the hair follicles will “swell” and stick out more. The hot towels are prepped in hot water with a few drops of lavender to relax the patron. Preparing the skin starts with a hot towel followed by massaging some pre-shave into the beard. Hot lather is then applied with a badger brush and held in the right hand and the left hand is placed behind the barbers back to keep it dry. Another hot towel is applied to the patron with additional hot lather. Finally, the barber prepares to shave by adding talc to his hands.

To get the closest shave possible without damaging the skin requires a two-part process. The first shave is done with the 14-step method and each stroke follows the grain of the facial hair. Using the 14-step method allows the barber to remain on one point so both the patron and fellow barbers will always know where they are in the shave.

Once the 14 steps have been completed the face is re-lathered with a badger brush but now the shaving strokes are slightly against the grain.  Schorem does not attempt a BBS (baby butt smooth) but comes as close as possible without causing trauma to the skin. The last hot towel is applied and a final check is performed before massaging after-shave balm into the skin. A cold towel is applied to close the pores, which causes the hair follicles to retreat into the skin, and to clean the face. The cold towels contain a few drops of mint to awaken the senses. The final step is to apply a little after-shave and talcum powder. The shave is now complete and the patron receives a quick shoulder and neck treatment with the Oster massager and a splash of aftershave on the neck. The tonics and aftershaves are kept in the freezer for that extra tingling feel.

A straight razor shave produces the best shave possible and gives you time to relax and enjoy something that Pharaohs, Roman Emperors and working class Gentlemen have prized. The methods used by Schorem may not be the same as your local barber but the key is to embrace the craft of straight razor shaving. Not all barbershops have a mirror case that is 123 years old but with proper training they can perform the craft of straight razor shaving and provide customers with quality grooming services and continue a barbering tradition.

Photos of Schorem courtesy of Jelle Mollema

Master Barber Bertus, Schorem Haarsnijder En Barbier Rotterdam, Netherlands

Mr. M



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