Wellington hairdresser charges by length, not gender

Matthew Kane Hairdresser owner Matthew Kane, right, and hair stylist Ella Stewart.
MONIQUE FORD/STUFF

Matthew Kane Hairdresser owner Matthew Kane, right, and hair stylist Ella Stewart.

A Wellington hairdresser is taking a stand against gender pricing for cuts and colours at salons.

Matthew Kane has a "non-gender based price structure", meaning he charges according to the length of a client's hair, not their gender.

As a result, his salon has become popular in transgender and gay communities.

Kane makes his pricing policy clear on his salon door and his website.
SUPPLIED

Kane makes his pricing policy clear on his salon door and his website.

Kane, who moved to the capital from Canada seven years ago, said the non-gender price policy started in his Toronto salon, and was introduced to reflect his clientele.

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"We had a broad range of people, so you had some girls coming in with short hair cuts, which were short and easy, and you had some guys coming in looking for fabulous hair."

New Zealand Hair and Beauty Industry Training Organisation (HITO) marketing manager Marama Cole says the idea to charge ...
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New Zealand Hair and Beauty Industry Training Organisation (HITO) marketing manager Marama Cole says the idea to charge according to length of hair is not a new one.

Kane quickly discovered the traditional male and female pricing model was not working.

"We went in the middle of the two, so we brought the girls price down and the guys price up to have one price," he said.

This too was changed, as while everyone paid the same price, some required more work than others.

"So then we did the three - short, medium and long - prices," Kane said.

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"Things started to change anyway, because we were getting into the age of gender dysphoria, so it [the pricing] matches moving forward."

Wellington was "cool and funky" so opening a salon with this pricing structure in the capital made sense.

"This kind of policy does fit with the subculture in Wellington."

Rainbow Wellington chair Richard Arnold said he had "unequivocal support" for the idea, as people did not have to "declare anything about yourself that isn't relevant".

"The only thing that's relevant is what is on your head and what they do to it. It doesn't matter what's happening elsewhere on your body."Arnold believes hairdressers should eliminate gender-based pricing, or justify the reason for keeping it.

"They shouldn't be able to put a premium on women's hair if it's not justified," he said.

"I think it's a great challenge to throw down to the retailers who are treating their customers in an unequal fashion with no justification. I think they need to defend their position."

A search of some well-known Wellington hairdressing salons shows haircuts are often charged by gender.

New Zealand Association of Registered Hairdresser chairwoman Maureen Bowring​ said gender-neutral pricing was "not very common" in New Zealand, but could be in the future.

"Generally, it depends on the service the client is wanting, the length of the hair, the colours used, the products used, definitely technique. Gender shouldn't really come into it."

New Zealand Hair and Beauty Industry Training Organisation marketing manager Marama Cole said salons could  charge what they liked for cuts and procedures.

"However, the idea to charge according to length of hair is not a new one. It has been going on for a while, although I don't think it is a growing trend," she said.

"Short haircuts require a lot of skill too, and so its not necessarily a case of the more hair, the greater the difficulty."

 - Stuff

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