Every city has its staple legendary hair stylist. In Vancouver, it’s Suki Takagi, a prestigiously trained ex-London-ex-Beverly Hill luxury salon professional who founded the Suki salon chain in Vancouver in 1972. Born in Manchuria in during the Japanese occupation in World War Two, Suki’s international background spans Brazil, the US, UK, and Canada, which she now calls home. More impressively, and perhaps more importantly, Suki’s background is one of a feminist icon: having bought a small salon called Carousel in Vancouver upon arrival in 1972, Suki faced the reality of having to prove herself as a Japanese woman in the world of entrepreneurialism. Needless to say, her story is one of courage and success. There are five salons across Vancouver now: downtown, South Granville, Kitsilano, Surrey, and Richmond.
What is more, Suki’s is an ethical and environmentally sustainable salon. Fully aligned with the green spirit of Vancouver, the salon belongs to the Green Circle Salons – North America’s only sustainable salon movement developed with the focus of repurposing beauty waste. This transformative process allows them to recover up to 95% of the resources that would ordinarily be thrown away, like hair, leftover hair colour, foils, colour tubes, aerosol cans, paper, and plastics. Both environmentally genius and financially savvy, everyone wins. So for those of you that care about the planet – which, realistically, should be all of us – it’s good to know that there are salons like those owned by Suki Takagi working tirelessly to rehaul the industry for the better.
On a sunny Wednesday afternoon, I visited Suki Takagi’s South Granville branch. Located on the trendy South Granville strip, a street of boutique stores, upscale restaurants, and elegant salons. This three storey salon extends beyond the traditional hair stylist venue, and in fact offers a spa experience. It is large, spacious, and modern, with a airy feel and pleasant sense of bustle amidst the concrete clad walls. Both modern and unpretentious, Suki’s on South Granville feels like an industrious space where one is set to work – on their hair and their appearance – in a solid and professional setting.
Upon arrival, I was taken to a changing room where I had the option of quite literally changing into my ‘haircut’ attire if I had any with me, or simply donning the traditional robe. A nice touch to add a dressing room to the salon, the private bathrooms (presumably to top up makeup after achieving that immaculate hairdo) rendered the space more luxe than the average. I was greeted by my stylist, James Valiant, an affable and dynamic hair professional who took me to my consultation. Feeling immediately in safe hands as he examined my tattered locks (the bane of bleached blonde hair), he accepted my request to have my lengths left in tact but the hair restored to good health. Proffering good advice from the get go, he knew precisely what to do in terms of shape, style, and the minimum length that needed trimming.
The hair washing experience was truly a delight. From the carefully selected Kerastase shampoo, the Resistance line for reconstructing weak hair and damaged hair, to the meticulously done head massage, I felt rested and restored even before the first snip.
The haircut itself was equally excellent, with James taking care to ensure he didn’t take off too much of the length but enough to bring back vitality. Throughout, we engaged in entertaining dialogue (including James’ trip to New York and hopefully London) whilst he interjected with recommendations and titbits of advice for maintaining good hair health. Despite not planning on buying any products, I left with a well recommended and trialed Kerastase product for hair repair, the Ciment Thermique, a strengthening leave-in treatment for weak, over-processed and damaged hair. My blow dry was quick and efficient, leaving me with a golden glow as my locks shone healthily. Leaving the salon less than an hour after arrival, this was truly a professional and industrious haircut, luxurious yet efficient, indulgent yet effective.
More broadly, Suki Takagi salons offer a range of services. Cuts and basic styling start at very reasonable prices and other treatments (colour – including balayage, hair extensions, permanent wave, hair relaxing, ionic Japanese straightening and smoothing treatments) are also available. At the South Granville branch that I went to, you can also enjoy the Spa facilities which include everything from waxing treatments, facials, body scrubs, tinting, aromatherapy, reflexology, threading, manicure, pedicure and even makeup (including bridal). This is the branch that does it all.
So if you’re in Vancouver and looking for a haircut with the city’s resident ‘celebrity’ stylist, you should go to no other than one of Suki Takagi’s salons. Well respected, travelled, and trained, this is a staple salon in Vancouver that delivers everything that you could want – and more – from a hair appointment.
3157 Granville Street