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Hair Guru John Allan Brings Club to Chicago

John Allan's, the men's salon concept, has ventured into the Windy City.

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John Allan’s, the men’s salon concept, has ventured into the Windy City.

This story first appeared in the January 9, 2009 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Founder John Allan opened a new location, or club, where customers can become members, in the penthouse of 111 West Jackson Street in Chicago in early December.

It is his fifth club and his first outside of New York City, where he has locations on Trinity Place; 46th Street in East Midtown; a shop-in-shop at Saks Fifth Avenue’s flagship, and on Washington Street in TriBeCa. Additionally, Allan says he is working to open a sixth location — probably a shop-in-shop with a major specialty store chain — in Los Angeles for June or July.

The Chicago location, whose opening helped mark the firm’s 20th anniversary in 2008, measures 5,300 square feet and could exceed $1.6 million in first-year revenues (in line with the John Allan’s New York clubs), or more than $302 per square foot, according to industry sources. The new digs also feature an outside terrace measuring 1,500 square feet for the quintessential masculine endeavor of cigar smoking. Not to be forgotten are the lounge, pool table and wet bar.

The new salon is slightly bigger than Allan’s existing clubs — for instance, his Midtown location is 5,000 square feet, while the TriBeCa space is 4,000 square feet and includes a screening room.

The Chicago space has a dozen styling chairs, four shampoo stations and four shoe-shine chairs. Not abandoning any detail, Allan even had the penthouse elevator buttons at West Jackson Street custom-made to read, “John Allan’s.”

In addition to hair services, the Chicago space offers beard trims, manicures, pedicures, facials, massages and shoe shines ($19 to $105), like his existing clubs.

The so-called Full Service ($65), which is key to Allan’s operation, includes a combination of the aforementioned services and was launched 20 years ago.

“It’s the anchor of our whole club [concept],” he said of the Full Service during a recent interview at the Midtown shop. “Most men think they are OK where they are [in terms of grooming],” stated Allan, who began his career in Paris in 1979 as an apprentice under Jean Louis David. “It’s my job to try to get them to go just a little further.”

Allan’s business doesn’t stop with the retail locations and services. He also markets in his clubs and at specialty chains an 18-item assortment of hair and skin care products.

The full collection includes a range of five shampoos and conditioners ($15 to $18); a six-item collection of styling aids ($14 to $22); five skin care products ($17 to $28), and two shaving products — a cream ($14.50) and an aftershave splash “with bite” ($18.50). There are also travel sets and high-end razor handles ($195).

Also, Allan has just added to the product assortment a pre-shave oil called Slick Water ($28 for 2 oz.), which hit shelves Jan. 1. And for summer, he’s launching a hair care product called Rough Paste.

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