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Mantic's Musings: Fusion, Proraso, and What's Next?


A number of recent developments in wetshaving have brought us to a cross-roads. Perhaps its time to enlist the collective knowledge and wisdom of the wetshaving community, put on our thinking caps, and ponder "what's next?"

Of course, two significant developments have occurred over the past couple of months, one "hardware" and the other "software:" the introduction of the new Gillette "Fusion" razor, and the introduction of Proraso in (US) Target department stores.

The introduction of the Gillette Fusion has been met with almost universal disdain from the traditional wetshaving community. As near as I can tell, opinion on the wetshaving discussion boards has been running about 15% "pro" and 85% "con." The opinion of the general public has been difficult for me to guage, and I imagine it will take several months for solid information to percolate out (even to Gillette). Anecdotally it appears that Fusion has been met with relative disinterest and even some ridicule from the "water cooler gang." The two-year old article from The Onion has taken on a whole new meaning.

On the other hand, the introduction of Proraso at Target stores has been met with almost universal praise from the traditional wetshaving community. Here is "one of our own" in the unfamiliar isles of a mainstream department store! In terms of public exposure to a "quality" shaving kit (relatively speaking), this event rates right up there with the Weekend Today Show segment on wetshaving of over a year ago.

How are we to reconcile these two developments? What opportunity's (or risks!) exist? What next step should--or could!--the traditional wetshaving community consider? Here are some I see:

First, the introduction of the Fusion could provide an opportunity for an enterprising person or group to introduce, or re-introduce, "competetive" hardware. For example, could both the Fusion introduction and the Proraso introduction be capitalized on by distributing inexpensive DE's from Wasai or Parker (or even the plastic Zorrik) to mainstream department stores as a "spa" or "retro" shaving kit? Could a "new" DE razor be developed that used a pivoting head mechanism like the Sensor/Mach3/Fusion? What about the Injector-style "clones?"

Second, could the introduction of Proraso in a mainstream department store actually be harmful to the mid-range internet vendors such as Em's, QED, Classicshaving, etc.? Because this effectively reduces their mix of products, will they have to make an effort to "brand" and promote their own products (Em's skin care, QEDman, Classicshaving shave soap, etc.) or risk getting squeezed out of business? Or will they always remain a "niche"?

Third, what can we do as the traditional wetshaving community to promote the expansion of our "hobby?" Should we direct a letter-writing campaign praising Target for their decision? Should we offer ourselves as instructors for life-enrichment classes that many communities offer? Should we do nothing and hog the best stuff for ourselves? :tongue:

With about 1000 total members of the internet wetshaving community wandering through a number of websites (SMF, B&B, MSN, ME, etc.), I'd be interested in your thoughts (even if its "dang, you think too much. Its just shaving").

Hi Mark,
Good to see you posting. While I find your musings most interesting, I think you are making a bit much of the two (NON)events. The Gillette Fusion, or as I prefer to call it the FUZZ-ON, may be the greatest thing since canned dog food and sliced bread, but its consumable prices are far to grand even for such a grandiose hardware statement as the FUZZ-ON.
I have a tub of the Proraso soap and the delightful crema dopobarba that I find to be a good combination to use. First, I find it unfortunate that this (formerly) niche product will probably disappear from the lists of products offered by our e-tailing community, but worse than that, for the frugal this will be as far as they probably will ever go. While I enjoy my Proraso shaves, if that was all I had to use, I would probably end up turning my Feathers loose on my wrists. Talk about eucalyptus becoming B-O-R-I-N-G. (especially in the winter)
That's my take on it for what it's worth.:001_smile
guenron said:
Hi Mark, Good to see you posting.
Yeah, I need to post here more often. I'm actually here almost every day, I'm just too lazy to log in. :blushing:


I think it's perfectly healthy to examine the nature and state of the industry.

As far as the Fusion is concerned, it's just further proof that Gillette and Schick are committed to the path they're on, and that none of the heavy hitters (or anyone else that has the potential to act) sees enough money in DEs. The appeal of the 3/4/5 bladed razor is that it gives a brainless, fast, close shave. The DE isn't brainless. There's a steep learning curve compared to a Mach 3/Fusion. The two apppeal to largely different market segments. The Fusion is a mass market razor. The DE isn't. Because it isn't, I just don't see it being offered in a high volume, mass market store like Target. Proraso is different and not constrained by the same rules as it can be used by the mass market and this small niche group.

With regards to Proraso and our favorite retailers, I don't see how them effectively being cut out of the circle with regards to Proraso can be good for them. For me though, it's sort of like Home Depot vs. your local hardware store. Could I stop by Target and buy Proraso? Probably, but can the pimply faced geek in a red vest even pronounce Proraso, let alone give me advice with regards to shaving? Probably not.

Third, what can we do as the traditional wetshaving community to promote the expansion of our "hobby?" Should we direct a letter-writing campaign praising Target for their decision? Should we offer ourselves as instructors for life-enrichment classes that many communities offer? Should we do nothing and hog the best stuff for ourselves? :tongue:
Without making judgement towards the guy, Corey had it right in this regard. The best thing we can do is educate the mass market, and for each 1 in 20 who didn't know about proper wet shaving before, and for whom that message resonates, they'll do some research, and they'll give it a shot.

There does seem to be one universal truth to all of this though; Most of those who are or were once new to wet shaving stumbled across the art after becoming fed up with the shaving status quo. When that happens, we'll be here.

mantic said:
Third, what can we do as the traditional wetshaving community to promote the expansion of our "hobby?" --Mark

I’m not so sure that wet shaving is a thing that can successfully be promoted. To me, the decision to spend the time learning how to master a traditional wet shave is not a local one, but rather a broader ideological characteristic. Many people are only concerned with convenience and speed- for these people, shaving will always be a chore. Whereas some choose to take pride in such tasks, and find the added time and effort to be worthwhile.

I know a lot of guys that complain about the nuisance or the quality of their shave, but most are not prepared to do anything about it. ‘I don’t have time’ seems to be the standard dismissal. To me, this ideology is tragic. By taking pride in the shaving ritual (or any other), one can transform an inconvenience into a pleasure. Instead of “wasting” an extra few moments, one gains some added enjoyment.

This schism extends far beyond shaving. For example, I notice that several here are also fountain pen enthusiasts. To me, writing with a nib that compliments your writing, on decent paper, with a shade of ink that you love, adds so much to the writing process. It is not a labour, but a pleasure- and is the reason that I still send ‘snail-mail’ whenever I can.

Sure, there will be a few people that may be ‘converted’ to wet shaving. However, I get the feeling that these people would have found their way regardless, based on the ideology above. At core, it boils down to the difference between people who are only fixated on the destination (or goal), and those people who are interested in the path that takes them there.

Hephaestus said:
I’m not so sure that wet shaving is a thing that can successfully be promoted.
I understand what you're saying, but I must (respectfully) disagree. In my own case, I was completely ignorant of wetshaving until three years ago...I never even knew it existed. I "learned" shaving (such as it was) with a Norelco electric; I tried an Atra and Edge in college (late 70's) but had no idea what I was doing and quickly went back to the Norelco.

Had I known of traditional wetshaving--or at least been taught the proper way to shave with a blade--I would've "converted."

There will always be those who will just want a fast shave and will put up with getting a five o' clock shadow by two, but I think the recent flood of "newbies" partly due to the Fusion is an indication that "the word" can be spread.


Gillette and Schick can keep trying to one up each other on blades for all i care-eventually they will get to the 10-bladed monster and everyone will recognize them as mass producers of weapons of destruction.

i for one am thankful that tarjay has decided to carry proraso-this way, i can try out something (w/o the wait) and then go deeper into my new hobby, addiction, whateva....

maybe tarjays decision will encourage others of the wetshaver purveyors to offer their products somewhere that the masses can reach; this may lead to an increase in the need/desire to improve their shave.

when i was in my teens. i used to wetshave, but i believed the hype and switched to the foam and the cartridge. funny, how as we get older we get wiser. now i'm back to wetshaving(properly) and will do so until my last breath.

the easiest way to convert others to wetshaving is to offer to wetshave them once- trust me, one shave and they will b hooked. then send them to tarjay and turn them loose.

Hephaestus said:
Sure, there will be a few people that may be ‘converted’ to wet shaving. However, I get the feeling that these people would have found their way regardless, based on the ideology above. -Ryan

I'm only a recent convert to wet shaving, and I would probably still be on the cartridge or electric path, but for a happy accident. On another forum I read, somebody was reviewing the the new Gillette marketing gizmo, er, I mean fusion. A few of the others on the site, touted the virtues of shaving with a DE, and pointed a link to SMF. I found this place from a link over at SMF, and now I'm spending too much time reading shaving forums. :biggrin: but I digress.

When I was young, I wasn't taught how to shave. My dad handed me an electric razor, and said there's the plug, here's the power button, go to town. Not the best way, but it got me out the door and ready for school quickly. At the time I only needed every few days anyway, so not a big deal.

Later I upgraded to a better electric. It was cordless, and had many spinning pivoting heads, so it must have been an improvement. I used this until the battery wouldn't hold a charge, and couldn't even be used while plugged in.

In despair, and lack of funds, I went out and bought a razor. If I recall correctly, it was the sensor excell, or something like that. I figured out how to use it on my own (I was no longer living at home), and contined shaving that way for years. It wasn't a close shave, and it gave me razor burn, but I thought that was just part of shaving. Later still, I bought a new electric, mostly to save time. I got razor bumps from that as well. I used both on various days depending on how close of a shave I needed (date or no date).

Now, I landed on these forums, and have learned the ways of true shaving. Ok, I haven't learned them entirely, but I'm on the path. I had heard of wet shaving, but didn't know anything about it until recently. I saw one my grandfathers old DE's before, and asked my mom about them back when I was little. She said it was a razor, but it was hard to use, easy to cut yourself. I now disagree with that, though there is a learning curve.

The older I get, the more I reject change for the sake of change. I liked my old Western Electric princess phone with the 4 prong plug. It worked great, you could always hear it ring from any room in the house, and there wasn't a battery to die on you in the middle of a conversation. I now have nothing but cordless, and cellular at home. It's a convevience, but it's not an improvement.

I'm glad I discovered wetshaving, and plan to continue doing it until the end. However, I don't know that I'd be here now if it weren't for wanting to find out whether or not to blow more money on the latest shaving "advancement" from Gillette.

I think that the Fusion and Proraso in Target are definately linked. Everywhere you look you are reading and hearing on the news how men are becoming more and more 'metro', caring how they look and whatnot.

Love it, hate it, or just don't care about it (where I am) regarding the Fusion, Gillette took a big risk putting their money and effort into this trend. They were willing to risk it on the belief that men were ready to spend outrageous amounts of money for 5 bladed razor cartridges, if it meant a more luxurious grooming experience, and it looks so far like they were right.

Now that that barrior has been broken by Gillette's pioneering, retailers are going to be riding on their coattails to capitalize on men's new openness to higher end grooming supplies.

Love the Fusion or hate it, I think its success can only be good for us. I've never used it, and don't plan on it, but could care less if 99.999% of men buy it. I still have my DEs, and kind of like being in the minority with it anyway. That's what makes the wetshaving 'clubs' like this so special :)
I think that Gillette/Schick/whoever is nearing the end of "improvements" that they can make on the cartridge razor. There will be a few more changes made to the Fusion (colors, lubricating strip ingredients, etc), but they have just about tapped out the market. I would not be at all surprised to see them come out with their own line of brushes and soaps/creams as their next "advance".

Of course, I could be wrong. Three years from now we could see a 6-blade cartridge with an old atra placed on the back side of it. The handle will house a weed-eater motor and will have the optional attachment of saddle and reigns.
I believe that Gillette has already stated that they are working on a brush project. Should be interesting.
I think that Gillette/Schick/whoever is nearing the end of "improvements" that they can make on the cartridge razor.

They will have to come up with something.

As they include power models as they launch each new multi-blade system, that's out.

I can't see them going all spa on us, no marketing muscle will make new Gillette brushes and manly shave soaps mass market.

I'd like to see some kind of nick-free waterless shaving with a laser, but that's just me. The razor as Star Wars gadget! (Not "permanent whisker removal," just a daily ritual for the new millennium.)
Great post Mark. My own thoughts re promoting wet shaving go along the lines of appealing to the desire for exclusivity in shaving; wet shaving being the preserve of the 'Gentleman', a superior way to shave. With this in mind, I think well written and persuasive articles in the right magazines, (GQ and Esquire spring instantly to mind), would be a good start. New ideas and fashions tend to trickle down, perhaps in a somewhat watered-down form, but good ideas do sometimes take hold.
I like your mention of a swivel headed DE too; I was thinking along those lines myself but think a single edge razor would be less bulky, half of a DE blade was my idea. Realistically, the execution of this idea would be incredibly difficult but not impossible.
Honestly, I didn't read all of the posts, so excuse me if I repeat something.

I'm not quite sure that spreading the tradition of wetshaving as well as traditional wetshaving supplies so vehemently would lend itself to any greater good.

Sure, it'd be nice to be able to go to a store locally and pick up QED, MB, TGQ, etc., but I think it'd turn out for the negative if these companies lost their "niche" status. Worst case scenario, god forbid, would be reformulation of their wonderful products to appeal to the current market, ala Trumper's, Harris, etc. :eek: I'm sure our fine proprietors would never do such a thing, but it's something to think about.

Perhaps I'm alone on this, but I actually enjoy knowing that I'm not using "mainstream" products. I feel there will ALWAYS be a market for the finer products, I don't feel that Proraso's new distribution, nor increased distribution of any other product in question, is going to hurt Charles or any of the Sues.

The introduction of more DE razors may be a good idea, however. Or Merkur could expand it's distribution, which would put traditional shaving right in front of the face of cartridge users and would provide eye candy and ease of shopping for those of our own ilk.
I could see "tarjay" breaking out some DE stuff but I don't think the average guy is gonna drop 40 or 50 bucks on a "DE starter kit". I've seen some cheap DE's on line that are offered in UK & Europe but never seen them in the USA. I'll bet if ASR started to crank out some entry level DE's they'd be surprised at the results.
Maybe if it was offered with the premise that the long term savings would be substantial it might make a difference. I know I would have pounced on a $10-$15 starter kit with a cheap DE only a few months ago.
The problem that I always had with DE and all types of shaving was not unlike what JeffS was descibing. I was never shown the right way to do it. I think a DE starter kit with some decent instructions would probably go over fairly well. Especially when people start to realize how cheaply it can be done. I saw a 10 pack of Persona's yesterday for $1.54 US, that wouldn't even buy you one half of a Fusion cartridge.
I've been working on my brother to give this a try but he is a die hard Sensor Excel guy. The only way I'll get him on board is to give him a setup and let him try it out for a while. I've even talked to my Dad who started out shaving in the 50's and well remembers injectors & DE's and I'm sure he thinks it just a phase that I'll get over.
Anyhoo, that's my 2 cents.

SO is Target still carrying Proraso?

In one of the other forums on B&B, I saw where it had allegedly been pulled from the shelves.
I saw today at Ogilvy (a Montreal luxury department store) a duo of Gillette Fusion and a brush. The whole kit is made by The Art of Shaving and it's a combination of a luxury version of the Fusion, a very nice holder and a dedicated brush. It's call the Fusion Chrome Collection
It's a very nice looking package indeed. I might end up buying it for my dad who is an hardcore Mach 3 user. The man shaved all his life with a DE until he saw the Mach 3 .
I'm back to DE and he might move forward to the Fusion.
The basic razor package goes for 145$ CA, it's expensive, but I guess it's X-Mas...
And the super package including the razor, the stand and the brush is 325$

I believe that Gillette has already stated that they are working on a brush project. Should be interesting.
wilkinson allready sells a pretty poor bristle brush, and keep on selling shaving soap, so, theres hope,

personaly, i think that the next steps will be self heating blades, proboblly using the battery that powers the vibration, its the next logical step, considering that gillette is a P&G company, which also makes duracell bateries, and Wilkinson/Schick is a Energizer holding company (guess that they make), so have to pick up a 5-6 buck pack of batteries with your 15-25 buck pack of fusion blades, well,
Step 1 - Heat blade
Step 2 -?????
Step 3 - Profit

theres also another idea, variable geometry blades, with a small handle on the side on the cartrige to allow you to select agresivity, so you can change blade angle to fit your face,

or devided shave cartriges, make them smaller and modular, for the tigher places or be able to angle them to better fit the shape of the face,

theres enough snake oil to go around to keep making cartrige razors more then popular, add the "cosmetic" evolutions to that, black plastic, titanium, shiney chrome, and others,

now for the forgiving part, we have seen parker, treet and weishi allowing wetshaving alternative in developing markets, which means that people will not be forced upon bic disposables, and then we have seen the evolution of the DE shaver, either improving it by mhuele or merkur, and then seeing companies which wetshaving does NOT favor their market and profit margins actually evolve the DE shaver, take the latest freshly manufactured DE shavers from gillette that are on sale in the south east asia and the gillette rubies in russia (theres still one in the FS section if you look around for russian), and the Wilkinson Classic DE, which is quite cheap and available almost all around the world, i love it personaly, its a shame i dropped it and the metal bar inside moved, shaved quite badly after it and it had to go to the recycle can,

anyways, as you can see, wilkinson and gillette still make DE shavers, they might make them to keep on being competitive in developing market, but i suspect that readapting the product to a western market would be a cosmetic job more then an engnieering issue,
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