Beautiful things feel different. It took nearly three years of design work and several iterations before the latest Tim Hartley scissors were delivered into my hands. I knew instantly the difference when I picked them up: the right quality and balance were there. I believed in them.
Other scissors don’t feel like mine do and they don’t perform in the same way. I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of amazing scissors I’ve used during a long career at the top of this industry. Always aiming high means getting as close to perfection as I can, and the first time I cut with them I was really thrilled. I’d already been working with some fine stuff, so I was mindful where the benchmark was for me.
It was a relief to discover something I could relate to so strongly. Being excited about it matters: that sounds simple but it’s such a big thing – it could have been destructive to my reputation if they hadn’t been as good as I wanted them to be.
Knowing the love and passion that’s gone into this range is what excites me. They’re made in Japan by Hayashi Scissors, a small company in Osaka, founded in 1992, where technology and human talent are married to traditional craftsmanship in an exciting combination. The founder kindly agreed to take me on as a client and create something for me. They handcraft my scissors in Japanese steel custom-blended with cobalt, which is what gives them great strength, durability and sharpness (they won’t need sharpening for at least a year).
As with all products created by the Japanese – from clothing to cookware – quality and integrity are paramount. In the early 1980s there was an explosion of excitement in Paris about Japanese quality and design. In fashion, it was Comme des Garçons, Kansai Yamamoto, Yohji Yamamoto and Kenzo. But you could also look at master craftsman George Nakashima’s wooden chairs, where the nature of the material was in harmony with the simplicity, functionality and integrity of the design.
It’s about having something that, with care, can last you a lifetime – and it’s the same with my scissors, which I wanted to be made with the precision of sushi knives, perfectly balanced.
The scissors come in two qualities. The black scissor is hand-lacquered with a lot of love and care – the lacquer takes a week to dry. Equally, in the silver finish, the quality is second to none. I like things to have cachet.
A lot of scissors come with a tension screw but mine don’t have that. There’s a key to tighten and loosen them, but it doesn’t need a lot of tension because they’re lighter and more elegant than most. At about £900, they’re not outrageously priced for top-quality scissors – and they won’t wear out.
The scissors have the value of things that are right for now – like the latest Gucci coat or Prada shoes – but are also ergonomic, fitting well into the hand space, and ergo-dynamic for efficiency. These scissors are for haircutters who want to master their craft. They’re 5.5 inches long, which I think is the perfect size for giving cutters control so they can visualize shape as they work on each individual client. That’s terribly important: big scissors are no good on a face with small features. While young hairdressers need to learn that sense of scale on the human head and hairline, Japanese design principles say it’s equally important to see the space around things. We must see the haircut develop in relation to the bone structure, the clothing and the physicality.
If we add to this scissor range, we’ll offer different shapes and sizes of the same quality, as well as versions for left-handed cutters. The packaging is deliberately substantial because scissors can get damaged easily when you’re travelling a lot for shows, so I want them to be properly protected.
Each pair takes a week to make, so I’ll have to start reordering now if the demand is what I think it will be. Having them made in Japan is important because it’s where the highest standards are realized – and the consistency of that standard.
I think my scissors are better than some more expensive ones, but I’m not interested in competition as such, it’s really about having good taste and choosing well. After all, if the equipment’s not right, the job won’t be right.