The Straight Razor Business Has a Renaissance

In Solingen, Germany—dubbed the "City of Blades"—artisans grind straight razors in a one-room workshop that has barely changed since their company, Dovo, was founded in 1906. For decades, business was slow as King Gillette's disposable blades swamped the market. But in 2005, the straight razor began "a renaissance," says Dovo's Anne Rothstein. The company now sells about 30,000 a year and has a nine-month waiting list. Eric Malka, CEO of the Art of Shaving, says overall business is down 15 percent since October—but straight-razor sales are up 2 percent. Why? A $100 blade lasts a lifetime, while a lifetime of disposables costs about $3,000. But that's always been true. What's new is the vogue for retro outdoorsman style among the hipster set. So if holding a freshly sharpened knife to your throat makes you nervous, it's time to man up.

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