Eat & Drink

Q&A: Olivier Bonnefoy of Gentlemen’s Tonic

March 12, 2014
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Ten years ago, Gentlemen’s Tonic opened its doors in Mayfair, London and three years ago, their first international establishment in Hong Kong.

We caught up with its founder, Olivier Bonnefoy, during the Hong Kong leg of his whirlwind Asia tour to find out his take on the male grooming industry, philosophies behind Gentleman’s Tonic and what he has in store for 2014.

Lifestyle Asia (LSA): Who is the typical clientele of Gentlemen’s Tonic?

Olivier Bonnefoy (OB): [Men] around 42 years old who are time poor, with a rough split among expats, local Hong Kong and Mainland Chinese. The focus is particularly on retail and facials in China, but the problem is that no one trusts the products that they’re getting.

LSA: What do you have to say to people who think male grooming is too feminine or vain?

OB: Personally, I feel that men are vainer than women. If you put up a mirror and let 100 men walk past, each one of them would look at themselves. Over the past few years, it’s been easier and easier to comfortably ask for advice and purchase grooming products for men.

A good example [of this is in] Champions League Football where you’re seeing facial scrubs advertising for men. [Men’s] magazines in particular have become Cosmo-esque versions of what women have had, providing a layman’s approach to shaving and grooming.

Related: 5 men’s grooming essentials

LSA: A lot more men’s grooming salons are opening up in Asia. What makes you stand out?

OB: What we offer is full service and segmented — not unisex. Guys can enjoy one-on-one service in our treatment rooms or choose one of our cabins to zone out or have full engagement with one of our therapists. This makes us stand out against the open plan unisex environment prevalent in Asia with hairdryers on one end and gossip on the other. It’s a bit of a mess.

LSA: You’ve made your mark on Hong Kong. Where will you go from here?

OB: Our biggest markets are in Singapore and Seoul, which is huge with men looking after themselves a lot more and women being more demanding, even when compared with Japan. At the moment, all our markets share the same products but we’ll be moving towards a more tailored offering for each individual market by taking into account the climate of that country. On the treatment side, we’ve just opened in New Delhi and are planning to open up in Moscow later this year.

LSA: In your opinion, does looking good lead to a man’s success, either professionally and personally?

OB: During the recession in the UK a few years back, [grooming treatments] were up 40 percent, as people were trying to look good to set themselves apart when finding a job. If you were to look at two candidates far away with all else the same, would you hire the guy who looked like he just got thrown out of a pub or the one who looks immaculate?

Related: The Refinery Power Lift facial for men

On the personal side, statistics show that women, even if unknowingly, will first look at a man’s shoes and then at a man’s nails because they’re naturally attracted to or want to be with someone who is clean and goodlooking. So, the answer is yes.

LSA: Do you have any personal skincare and shaving tips?

OB: Shave during or after a shower to let your pores open up. Your skin is like a layer of tissue and shaving is essentially stripping away a layer each time so make sure to moisturise with some sort of after shave balm or moisturiser to seal it in. Ensure that you exfoliate 2-3 times a week — it makes a difference.

LSA: What is your daily personal grooming routine?

OB: I like to keep it simple. After I cleanse, I use both a pre-shave oil and shaving cream as part of my everyday shave, moisturise my face twice a day and wash my hair everyday — even though I don’t have much hair left!

 MORE: A review of The Hemingway treatment at Gentlemen’s Tonic.

This post was originally published on Lifestyle Asia, Q&A: Olivier Bonnefoy of Gentlemen’s Tonic on 12th March, 2014

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