Toni&Guy’s Hide Saiga shares his guide to the Japanese capital
When Toni&Guy branched out into international waters, it made sense for them to open their first salon outside the UK in a city that’s as cutting-edge as the brand: Tokyo. Throwing open its doors in 1985 with Kenji Saiga at the helm, the Japanese operation has blossomed to include 14 salons (with more on the way) and because Toni&Guy is first and foremost a family firm, it’s now in the hands of his son – celebrated hair artist – Hide. We caught up with him to talk all things Tokyo, fashion and of course, hair.
Tell us about your connection with the Toni&Guy brand and the Mascolo family...
My father joined the Toni&Guy family back in the 70s when Toni, Guy and Bruno all worked there, and later Anthony, too. I’ve known the Mascolo family since I was a kid, especially Toni who I often saw when I was growing up. It’s like I have a family in London, and I feel like I’m their nephew; every year I make sure to go see the Mascolos when I’m in London.
It’s been more than 30 years since the first Toni&Guy salon opened in Tokyo and now there are 14 country-wide. What is it about the brand that resonates so well in Japan?
I think the branding that Sacha has created is one of the main reasons. Also key is that the education programme is so strong. If a client from London comes to one of the salons here we can give them a similar experience because of the education we’ve received.
How did learning your trade at the Toni&Guy London Academy prepare you for your career in the industry?
I arrived in London in 1996 and stayed for around 14 years. When I did my beginner’s course, my teacher was Christian Mascolo [Toni’s son], who is amazing. He is a brilliant hair cutter, one of the best. I was very lucky to learn from an original Mascolo. He gave me a great foundation to progress my career all the way to the art team.
As a fresh faced 16 year old in London, how did you find the city?
Back then, Japan was even more rigid, rules had to be followed and nobody different was accepted – everyone at school had to have the same haircut. When I first arrived in London, everything felt free and there was such a melting pot of culture. It was a shock and very inspiring at the same time.
What’s trending in terms of hair in Japan right now?
For both men and women I’ve started to see lighter colour, with much higher tones. I’ve also started seeing soft perms coming through again. We all have straight hair but want a softer texture and you can’t tell that it’s a perm.
What are the biggest fashion trends for from the last Tokyo Fashion Week?
Last season, I worked with lots of younger designers and I see Japan as being similar to London – a little bit bonkers in every way. First you make your name by being outrageous and over the top, and then try to get sponsorship for Paris, New York or Milan, and that’s when you get tamed. This season I saw lots of clashing prints. With hair, designers all want the models to be individuals. Most of them have studied fashion in Europe, so they take on worldwide trends and give them a Japanese feel in the details. In Harajuku the traditional trend is maximalism, things piled up – if their style was a pizza it would have every topping.
What Japanese lifestyle trends could we benefit from in the UK?
For hairdressing, our quality of service. Our hospitality and customer service standards are some of the best in the world. There is also quite a high ratio of treatment services and the head massage is really popular. We work hard, have long hours and everyone is always in a rush – I’m trying to teach them to chill more. So everyone wants to relax as much as they can in the salon. Outside of the salon, probably Japanese food. We eat pretty much everything, so even though we work hard and seem to be stressed we live the longest in the world – I think food definitely plays a big part.
What’s the most exciting project that you’ve worked on to date?
Recently Louis Vuitton came to Kyoto to show their cruise 2018 collection and because of my work with Toni&Guy, I was able to be a part if it. I was backstage and it was amazing to be involved with something on such a big scale.
You do session styling at both LFW and TFW, editorial work, avant garde and salon work, which is the most rewarding?
Every kind of work has its own reward but my favourite is being in the salon. Working with a big designer is great, but it feels like a dream. Whereas in the salon, when I see the client happy, it feels real and I know I’ve done something nice for someone directly. I still do as many days in the salon as possible. Toni always maintained his one day a week, and told franchisees to make time to go to the salon, so I’m just trying to follow as much of what Toni has done as possible.
How will you remember Toni?
My first memory is being really young and Toni telling me that I had to help my father to build an empire. He always had a little story to tell and was always was so nice, he had this charm that made you feel good – that’s what I’ll miss most about him.
A Brazilian jiu-jitsu dojo in the heart of upmarket Aoyama 4-26-16-1F, Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo, 107-0062
A super cool, old-school karaoke lounge in bustling Ebisu 1-10-5 Ebisu, Shibuya, Tokyo 150-0013
With incredible views of Tokyo, this sleek cocktail bar featured in Lost in Translation 3-7-1-2, Nishishinjuku, Shinjuku, Tokyo 163-1055
This local sake bar will have you feeling tipsy before you realise it 1F, 2-9-4 Dogenzaka Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0043
This indoor sporting arena hosts Sumo Wrestling tournaments three times a year 1-3-28 Yokoami, Sumida, Tokyo, 130-0015