Social Animals: the new barber that is a cut above the rest

Jack Hayes

West Melbourne’s Social Animals Barbershop is anything but your typical barber, and the story behind its founder is just as intriguing.

Social Animals Barbershop works to a unique, subscription-based model centred around high-quality haircuts and products at affordable monthly costs, ultimately creating a tribe of like-minded people from all walks of life.

The business is the brainchild of founder and barber, Adam Bowling, who is also a musician, and a former senior executive of a nationwide cleaning company.

Turning his back on the corporate world and starting from scratch, Mr Bowling was in search for something he could truly put his fingerprints on.

Mr Bowling told North West City News his business model was inspired by “allogrooming”, the act “where members of the same species groom and maintain each other, building companionship and community.”

“I take pride in what I do, about anything, and that’s what we want to do,” Mr Bowling said. “It’s not just the haircut that people leave with; it’s the whole experience and what you are now involved with. Everyone is welcome here.”


We are building something that you can be a part of. People want to be a part of something. Just like your favourite bar, you go there because you love it. They might have the same beer as other places, but you still go there.


Social Animals offers three tiers of subscription; Gorilla Tier – two cuts per month, with five per cent off in-store products and updates about events and products; Tiger Tier – three cuts per month, one beard trim, 10 per cent off in-store products and updates about events and products; and finally, Dragon Tier –  four cuts per month, two beard trims, 15 per cent off in-store products and VIP invites to events.

The business was launched in late June, and for Mr Bowling and his team, it has been foot to floor ever since.

While the subscription model is what sets Social Animals apart from other barbers, those without a subscription are still able to access their services with traditional walk-ins on offer.



Growing the “tribe” and growing the brand have both been careful considerations, with the aspiration of 11 locations across the country and two in Bali in the crosshairs from inception.

“Since launch on June 30, it has been massive. We want to disrupt the market … kick the tyres, light the fires,” Mr Bowling said.

“The first month we smashed our targets, and this past month we are exceeding all expectations.”

“Our community is going to build this. It’s not about me, it’s about us and our tribe.”

“Our business model works in a way that we can pay our barbers a liveable wage and allow for corporate growth. If they want to grow, that’s great. We can provide you with opportunities to open your own business, whether it’s Melbourne, Sydney, or the Gold Coast, you get a piece of this pie.”

For locals looking to join the tribe permanently, Mr Bowling is on the lookout for full-time and part-time barbers.

Social Animals Barbershop is located on Wominjeka Walk at the West End, corner of Adderley and Dudley streets. •

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