Interview: Queer Cuts with Kristin Rankin from Dresscode Project

Welcome back to dapperQ’s ongoing queer barber and hair stylist interview series: Queer Cuts. This week we’re celebrating Toronto-based stylist Kristin Rankin from Dresscode Project. Photos by Jack Jackson of alljackedup. Model: Hannes Dunderberg. Model “Lover Tank” here.

dapperQ: Please tell us a bit about yourself and your salon/shop.

Kristin: I’ve been cutting hair for 12 years. My mom was a hairstylist and she told me to get into the trade, and that I would love it. All I can say is that moms are always right. About two years ago, I had a client who is MTF. It was a pretty average service, not much different than most other cuts I do on clients. But a couple of days later she tweeted something along the lines of this was the first time she had ever had a haircut and felt like a woman. It really touched me, but also made me realize this needs to change. Since that day, I started to put together an initiative called the Dressdcode project. I started a website that’s a directory for the LGBTQ+ clientele. They can type in their postal codes/zip codes and find a Dresscode Project salon closest to them. This allows them to know they’re going to a safe space salon. Reducing the anxiety and stress they might otherwise feel when they want a haircut. Part of transitioning (whether MTF or FTM or even just coming out) is about your physical look, and hair plays a huge role in that. It’s super important that it looks just right, that it looks the way the clients feel inside. So, all of the salons that sign up to become DCP salons must start by making sure all employees are on board with this and they have non-gendered restrooms. We’re also working on inclusion and diversity training for all DCP salons, so we can ensure people know how to use proper pronouns, and focus on the clients hair. It’s really exciting to put this in place and create safe space salons. I want to champion change in this industry for this community. It’s really important to me. So, I started by emailing a whole lot of salons/barbershops to get them all on board. So far we have over 60 in North America!

As for my salon, I opened it 9 years ago. It’s in the Leslieville neighborhood in Toronto. It’s called Fuss Hair Studio on Queen Street East. We’ve done well, we’ve had a lot of success in the city, we service a very diverse crowd. We’re very proud to offer gender neutral pricing for cuts, our clientele love it. So much of what we do at Fuss is about diversity, inclusion and fluidity. It’s so important and is the future of hair and most everything else.

dapperQ: Queer fashion sites like dapperQ and Qwear are often asked, “What is queer style?” Does it exist? And, if so, what sets queer style apart from other aesthetics? Along the same lines, many of our readers ask us about queer hair styles (e.g. is there such a thing and where are the best places to get one). Do you believe that “queer hair styles” are a discernible aesthetic? If so, what makes them unique?

Kristin: Yes, there is such a thing as queer hairstyles and the best place to get one is at a Dresscode project salon. OK, not so much queer hairstyles as there are queer looks.  Hairstyles that have been commandeered by queer people, and queer people that want to look a certain way. Meaning, haircuts that go with these particular looks. Just like any other culture or community.

In June – Pride month – we are doing queer cuts or “Pride cuts: all month long. It’s a thing, our clients ask for it by name and we recognize it as such. All of this being said, it’s part of the culture of our community. It’s how a lot of us identify, our hair makes us feel proud and strong and a certain way. And on the flip side, there are just haircuts. Haircuts that don’t match any type or community or look, but the queers might want them. At the end of the day, it depends on the individual.  Our community is leading the way in diversity, non-gendered style, androgyny, and identity. In the end, it’s all about what makes us look the way we feel. One of the last things most anyone does before they walk out the door for the night is look in the mirror. You can bet they’re making sure their hair is on point.

dapperQ: What are some trends you are seeing in queer and/or masculine cuts?

Kristin: Shaved at the side with a different, usually disconnect top. Really current is a shaved tight side with a hard weight line just above the temple. The hair is usually also short on top, just longer than the sides and styled forward.

dapperQ: How do you understand and approach your clientele different from the ways a classic barbershop/salon does?

Kristin: With the understanding that they’ve most likely at some point in their lives experienced anxiety when coming to the salon for a cut. That it’s not the relaxing experience it should be. It could have, in fact, actually been pretty traumatic for them. So I treat them the same way I would anyone else. Like they’re my next client, regardless of gender, ethnicity, or identity. I start like I do any other service by asking them what they want done with their hair. If they bring up their identity at that point or through conversation, I go with it. I might at that point talk to them about their experiences. And sometimes some clients are very upfront about their identity and we talk quite openly about their past hair struggles while transitioning, current struggles regarding styling. I try to give them pointers through the service and offer advice on styling. Other than that, it’s like any other day behind the chair.

dapperQ: What are your rates?

Kristin: My rates can be found at www.fusshairstudio.com.They’re classified as barber/pixie, cropped or mid to long. Price is according to #lengthnotgender

dapperQ: How can our readers find you on social?

Kristin: Please follow and repost us at @thedresscodeproject (Instagram), The Dress Code Project (Facebook) and @drsscdprjct (Twitter). And, to sign up your salon with Dresscode Project, or find a Dresscode project salon near you, go to: www.dresscodeproject.com.

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