On Wednesday night in Neukölln, the Berlin district that’s arguably the nexus of the city’s creative underground, a shop that normally sells a wide array of individual, unique beers from around the world was celebrating something else that is equally unique and individual: the modern man.
The pop-up party space was hosted by AXE, the male grooming brand whose new Male Grooming Range of Daily Fragrances, 48-hour antiperspirants, styling products, and shower gels celebrate and put forward a more nuanced, authentic definition of what it means to be male in 2016. To accompany the launch, AXE created AXE Magazin, a highly limited edition magazine featuring individual tales of modern masculinity with contributions from fashion designers, editors, bloggers, skaters, artists, musicians and models including American albino model Shaun Ross (who flew in from the U.S. just for the party).
Ross was joined by Schwarz Don’t Crack’s Ahmad Lames, Berlin-based fashion designer Patrick Mason – whose striking, gender-neutral collection at the last Berlin Alternative Fashion Week was a definitive highlight – and best-selling author Michael Nast, as well as AXE Magazin‘s cover star, the highly influential German culture blogger, Willy Iffland. The magazine itself featured three different cover stars, as if to reflect the plurality of ways men can define themselves in 2016.
“What makes a man attractive is the man himself,” said Rik Strubel, AXE’s global vice president. As the sun set across Neukölln and Linnéa hit up the decks. “His strengths, his weaknesses, his individuality, and how he expresses all this. We want to support boys and men to be self-confident and show who they are.”
In the warm September evening, as people mingled out on the street and sampled the homemade bottled longdrinks (made to match the fragrances), beer, and free candy and sandwiches, we tried out AXE’s new daily fragrance range. Consisting of three editions – the sweet oud wood and vanilla, the deeper tobacco and amber, and the slightly spicy iced musk and ginger – the collection is softer both in scent as well as in application. A light spray subtly lingers for hours and is designed, as AXE hopes, for men to help ‘find their magic’.
This shift, in championing the confidence from within, is a welcome approach from the old and outdated way of selling male grooming products that tends to rely heavily on overtly ‘masculine’ imagery and colorways, a ridiculous use of words and that somehow always seem to imply guaranteed success with a hint of misogyny. But AXE seem to be on the right path with this range, and as if to confirm, as the party wound down, I found myself stood next to a girl holding the range and a copy of AXE Magazin. Her favorite fragrance was the iced musk and ginger, FYI.
AXE Magazin has a limited run of 350,000 copies and is available for free from select cafés, bars and fashion stores across Berlin. Check out the exclusive shots of the party above, before diving into details of AXE’s new Male Grooming Range at axe.de.
- Photography: Dominik Schulte / Highsnobiety.com