To this day, the guiding principle of Proraso remains the same as when it was indicated by Piero Martelli in 1948: to create quality products that make shaving enjoyable and flawless, in the barbershop and at home. The company is developing its formulas in collaboration with Italian barbers and its own R&D department to guarantee the best performance standard. Brand manager Stefano D’Andrea gives us the full rundown.
Tell us about the origin of the company. How did it come about?
It all started in 1948, in a small lab in Florence, right after World War II. Piero Martelli, in his family-owned company, invented the “Miraculous” Pre & After Shave Cream. A real innovation for that time, this cream had two goals: it was used to soften the beard to make the hairs easier to shave and refresh the skin right after the end of the shave. First, it was adopted by the Italian barbers, then also by a growing number of Italians. This product, invented more than 70 years ago, is still our cornerstone on which we based the perfect Proraso shave.
And it’s still a family-run business.
Yes, this is the fourth generation of the Martelli family in the company. The continuous presence of the family in the company ensures a long-term vision and a bond between the brand and its consumer that is hard to find anywhere else. Plus, the Martellis’ love what they do!
Tell us how your icon “Gino” was created?
Gino was our first testimonial ever. He is the socio-cultural representation of the time: an Italian man in the morning, satisfied with his shaving, smiling at the day to come. He is a man from the ’50s, years characterized by economic growth, prosperity, and confidence in the future. Even today Gino is drawn on our packaging and he is still our best testimonial.
What sets your brand apart from other grooming lines?
Proraso has two main points of difference from the other grooming lines. First of all, its tradition and culture based on the great experience accumulated over nearly a century, and through collaboration with the barbers. A recent survey indicated that 90 percent of the barbers in Italy use Proraso. The second is this almost maniacal specialization. Proraso is probably the only brand that can boast a complete and total specialization in the beard, whether shaved or groomed. In a world where all brands do everything, we believe in perfectionism that leads to excellence.
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You travel the world looking for the best barbers. How did that start?
It all started in 2014 when we noticed that more and more barbers all over the world were using Proraso in their shops. Our main goal was to show that another piece of Italian excellence had been proudly adopted abroad. We visited several barbershops all over the world, from Europe to the US, up to Africa, and all the barbers, even if very different from each other, were united by the same love for Proraso, an Italian symbol of their profession in the world.
Are you coming out with anything new?
Speaking about the barber’s needs and the old-style shaving lover, we have been working for a new product range meant exclusively using the single blade razors. Shaving with this tool is deeper than using other razors, so it requires much richer formulations that minimize the risks for the skin. This line consists of pre-shave cream, shaving cream in a tube, and aftershave balm. The products are formulated with 3 different fragrances: Wood and Spice, Azur Lime, and Cypress & Vetyver. These will launch in the US exclusively on proraso-usa.com for the holiday season.
We saw the PRO section on your website. Tell us about the programs you use to support barbers.
In 2017 we established the Accademia Proraso in Florence. The main purpose is to protect, support, and enhance the barber’s craft and divulge its art in a traditional, contemporary, and future dimension, and creating a network among the barbers. Accademia Proraso also provides a place for professional development, where up-and-coming barbers can learn from shaving experts and develop their own personal style.