So I have been thinking. And when you think alone in a vacuum, you never know if you are correct unless you get others opinions. So I am here for yours.
My question is not what soap is the slickest, best smelling, or correct for summer or winter use. As a self described soap snob, I enjoy my favorite makers and specific blends. ie Caties Bubbles, B&M, and Stirling. I believe all of us are the same way. We seek out the brands, blends and scents that we feel confident will perform the way we want. Sometimes we step out of the box and try a soap that we hear perform above AND below our regular soaps.

With these 2 points in mind, do you ever correlate/associate a soap brand with a certain social class?

I know this is a pointed and subjective question and I dont think there is a right answer. It is not to stir controversy, but debate our own ideology on soaps.

As an example, consider Williams. It has been made for dozens of yrs. It is firmly entrenched in wetshaving. It is almost a certainty that generations of our forefathers used it at some point in their life. Yet today it so cheap and common hardly any of us use it because there are frankly better soaps available to us. Not to say it isnt effective as a shave soap, just that there are better out there we can get.

Another example would be Cella in the brick. A good shave soap. You can load like hell knowing you have almost a whole Kilo you can fall back on. A guy could shave twice a day, everyday for a yr and barely use half a kilo. A never ending buffet of shave soap. A good scent, and a journeyman or barber can have repeatable shaves with predictable results.

So as each of us aspire to rise above our particular social class, we take baby steps to acquire tangible items from the class above us. This can be shown is cars, houses, or designer jeans. But since the subject is shave soap, this brings me to my question above. Considering the wide array of soaps, do you associate certain soap brands with a social class it was intended to serve?

To answer this question myself, I admit I do. I see Williams as an entry level soap that is affordable for the budget minded person where every dollar expended must be accounted for.

I see Stirling as the best bang for the buck performance minded soap available. Very well priced for the performance received in return. For the person that works 6 days a week but can afford to take the family out on their day off. Yet demands the best performance from every item purchased to maximize the money spent.

Caties Bubbles and B&M (the class I consider myself) is for the person that shares slightly more of their income towards a type of soap that could be considered the upper echelon of the middle class. It could even be said that I am in fact reaching for a piece of something that is just above my social class. I am secure enough to say that about myself.

So that leaves me with the one percenters. The Waltons, Koch brothers, and Buffets. The class that I wont ever achieve but observe from the 99% point of view. With this class I associate with MDC, Antica Barbiera Colla, and Saponificio Varesino. Could I actually afford any of these soaps? Sure I could. At the expense of something else of course. And obviously it wouldn't be sustainable for me for any length of time. But I could catch a glimpse of the upper echelon of society. In our wetshaving world, that is kind of cool.

The purpose of this post isnt to call some people snobbish and others poor cheapskates. But just a discussion on brands of soaps and what we associate them with. I hope this to be a fun discussion and not demeaning.

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As a side note, this is a good companion article with the shave snob thread. I see them as both discussing almost the same ideology.

And as a second note, stratification is a term used in Sociology, and also a term that was reframed in the media they sensationalize for viewership called "class warfare" I will go out on a limb here (even if it is flimsy) and say there arent any 1%ers on this board so I dont view my thoughts as class warfare and dont intend them to be. Just simply stratification.
B&B Ban date 4 July 2016
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(This post was last modified: 05-30-2016, 01:39 AM by grim.)
(05-29-2016, 11:05 PM)olschoolsteel Wrote: With these 2 points in mind, do you ever correlate/associate a soap brand with a certain social class? I hope this to be a fun discussion and not demeaning.


I was about to get into this tomorrow in my soap analysis as its a discussion on value. I think you've fallen into the trap of associating the cost to acquire a consumable (e.g. $16 for 4 oz) with the true value of the product which can only be described in cost/shave.

Now only you can decide the true cost/shave because we all do things differently. If you use a chubby brush on a soft soap, you will absolutely eat that soap soft and consume it very quickly wasting maybe half of it down the drain. OTH, if you use a much smaller brush on a tripled milled or quintuple milled (e.g., Klar) soap, creating only enough lather you need each day, you might find the thing lasts forever (or months and months, etc.)  Only you can figure this out.

So I reject this notion of "class". This is soap. It's not liquid gold. Its about as cheap as one can get and if you want to save money, then use it judiciously.

Now ABC cream is ridiculously expensive. But besides that, if you do a real comparison, you might find the differences between the "1%" soaps and the "average" soaps   (i.e., the ones in the $4/oz range) is nickels and dimes/shave depending upon what you choose. I will have more on this tomorrow. This is about the one hobby you can enjoy the best consumable products without costing serious money.

Think about this. If you spend an extra quarter a day, how much money do you throw away on other frivilous stuff?  You drive 1 mile you throw away a quarter. You buy a Starbucks coffee, you throw away 20 quarters, etc. etc. etc. Thats 20 shaves with the 1%!

Now think about any other hobby where the cost of consumables is so cheap. I'm not sure I know any.

Sorry, I reject the idea that MdC is the 1% based on cost/shave. ABC cream is, IMO, way out of line in price. SV, not even close. At $23 for 5.3 oz thats $4.33/oz. B&M Lavanille sells for $6/oz. Rhapsody for $4.50. Thats more expensive than SV.

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Interesting thoughts.
I agree I may have been fallen for the price/brand= value pitfall. I can say it isnt marketing (propaganda) as we discussed on another thread.
I also agree that cost per shave is dependent on the user, and also their wallet. But wouldnt a soap maker's price for soap be aimed at a certain user within a specific income level? Going further, our income level determines our social class, or stratification level. So, in theory, skipping a step, one could associate a certain soap to a certain social class.

One of the funnest parts of wetshaving is being able to indulge in the wide range of soaps from the obscure, rare, vintage, and expensive. With the expensive still accessible to the masses based on usage levels.
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(This post was last modified: 05-30-2016, 05:57 AM by Marko. Edit Reason: Add )
I'll throw my two bits in for what its worth (two bits?), I like the Barrister & Mann soaps, Caties Bubbles, Mystic Waters, Mike's Natural, and a handful of others. I've on several occasions looked at the Panna Crema soaps on their websites and have even gone so far as to put one or two in the cart to see what the all in cost would be with shipping to Canada. I've left the cart in the aisle each time. Sure I could cough up the money but its just more than I'm prepared to spend. Another example is Stirling soaps, I can get them from Badger Shaving in Vancouver but they don't carry the whole line so I have gone to the Stirling website and put a couple of the scents that I can't get into the cart, but the $42 shipping cost has led to the cart being abandoned in the aisle once again. I'm curious what the research would show that a vendor's incremental sales projections from the offer of free shipping once you purchase above a certain threshold. Its got to be worth it or so many vendors wouldn't do it.

On the subject of social strata, I think the fragrance one selects may be more indicative of that - my 87 year old father is a bit of a snob although he kept it pretty low key in his younger days. I mentioned that I liked bay rum and he sneered and said it was blue collar stuff - he feels the same way about blue jeans (dungarees). I don't mind smelling like a working man. Its funny dad's house is full of old furniture that he bought at auctions over the years, "antiques". I found out later that its an English thing at least among some social stratas, to look down on those who buy new furniture because its indicative of new money and all that goes with that. So even if you don't have genuine antique family heirlooms handed down through the centuries on your estate, you can buy old furniture and look like you do. And we all know its how you look that matters (and you look marvellous) Smile

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Restitutor Orbis
(This post was last modified: 05-30-2016, 03:37 AM by Aurelian28.)
Very thoughtful post and very reflective. Not sure if this would help, but where I come from L'occitane is a luxury brand. Actually this brand is really expensive here. A Plisson brush set me back roughly $100 bucks. However I couldn't for the life of me justify this cost now that I have an RR Bruce or a Maggards Synth. Try as I may, the fibers are simply very identical.

This is the same for the soap as well. Although I enjoy a puck of Cade (love clean scents) which costs about $15 per refill here and the aluminum bowl for about $50 bucks, I find myself enjoying a stick of the humble Arko more. I would even go so far as to say the performance of a Cade puck is akin to a puck of Williams when lathered properly in my experience.

This is not to take away from this brand, I will not be buying it if I didn't enjoy it, however I understand now that the price isn't a good measure for the actual value of a product.

I understand there is the marketing and overhead side of things, but performance wise, it's really a gamble out there. Some very cheap soaps offer great value and stellar performance and some expensive ones are simply mediocre at best.

I come from a poor country and if you guys have elitists and snobs there, gents, you might be in for a surprise the kind we have here. Lol.

I find it rather strange and amusing the lengths some of these "Elite's" would go to just to differentiate themselves from us plebs.

I remember this rich "elite" person had a segment on TV where this person decided to cook a very common stew for the common folk (very common, akin to mac and cheese) and instead of adding cheap liverwurst (which was already whimsical and not at all necessary for the traditional recipe), the dish "needed" copious amounts of very expensive Foie Gras.

I am certain I would enjoy that dish but man what a waste..

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(05-30-2016, 02:01 AM)olschoolsteel Wrote: ...wouldnt a soap maker's price for soap be aimed at a certain user within a specific income level?

Only if you allow them to control your perception. This is the Ice Cream marketing problem

Ice Cream used to be sold in 1/2 gallon containers, say for $4. Today they sell it in 3 pint containers for $5. They want you to have the perception you are getting what you used to and charge you more.  

In the case of MdC, for example, its $44 for 7.05 oz or $6.24 per oz. Thats approximately the same cost as B&M Lavinalle. Now you got to figure out how many shaves you get from MdC vs B&M. The perception of size of the container is only in  your head. Some people rave about Haslinger. Haslinger routinely sold in the US sells for $5.69/oz, but seems cheap because the container is so tiny. Its all Marketing.

These products, all of these products are aimed at the hobbyist. They are aimed at probably everyone on this and every other shaving forum. They are not aimed at the millions upon millions of the masses who do not view this as a hobby but just want to be done with shaving in the fastest way possible. They want it to be free, if possible, not spend any time on it, and certainly not talk about it. Its just a task to do like brushing your teeth.

So if you are into this hobby, do the math, figure out what is going on, you might find the actual value much different than the appearance of the upfront cost. So NO, I do not believe, for example, MdC is targeted at a certain income level. I believe it is targeted to shaving hobbyists, the kind of people who will figure out its 7 oz, not 4 oz, and a hard soap, not a soft soap.

I would also forget about those fancy containers and just buy refills. For example, there is no need to spend $33 for some terracotta container for i Colonia Mango when the refill is less than $18. The container is a waste of money. I wish they sold MdC solely as refills.

(05-30-2016, 02:01 AM)olschoolsteel Wrote: Going further, our income level determines our social class, or stratification level. So, in theory, skipping a step, one could associate a certain soap to a certain social class.

Only if you let it. Here is one example. Take a look at a typical residential US area with "normal" middle class incomes. Look at the cars. 10 - 20 years ago you might have seen a whole lot of Toyotas, Hondas, Nissans, VWs, etc. Today? You will see BMWs, Audis, the more expensive VWs, Acuras, Lexus. Why is that?  Leasing. Some people will want to drive more car than they can really own. So they lease the car at a lower rate than if they actually had equity in it.

So ... the image they project is that they have more money than others in the area because BMW leases cars cheaply yet has an "image" of being an upscale car. So what does that tell us about the owner's income level? They probably should be driving a Toyota but instead are living large driving something they might not really be able to own.

Income did not determine their social class. They found  way to live larger within the bounds of their income (at the expense of equity). This is no different than subprime mortgages where people bought over their head but that is another subject ...

If you are talking the 1%, the 1% don't live like the rest of us. While they might own 80 cars, they don't drive them as someone drives for them. They don't own a home. They own 10 homes. They don't go grocery shopping, someone does that for them, etc. etc etc.,

(05-30-2016, 02:18 AM)Marko Wrote: but the $42 shipping cost has led to the cart being abandoned in the aisle once again.

But shipping costs are not the cost of the item. It's the cost of doing business. If the cost is too high, then I would try to buy enough to get to the free shipping level, if possible.

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(This post was last modified: 05-30-2016, 09:19 PM by Freddy.)
I have never really thought of this in terms of social or economic standing.  If I like it and am willing to pay the price then I use it.  Otherwise I don't. Rather, I find I have way too much hardware and software (what a surprise Winking) and tend to go with some products over others.  Thus, my Barrister & Mann, Dapper Dragon, and Stirling Soap Co. products have been seeing a lot more use than stuff I have had a lot longer and that may have cost considerably less.

Because of this thread, I rifled through my stash and decided on a reasonably inexpensive shave, based on unit cost of each product.  I used my somewhat homely looking but perfectly useable Vie-Long 12601 horsehair brush ($12.00), Schick Adjustable Injector razor ($30.00, purchased from the B/S/T here at DFS), Chinese Schick Adjustable blade ($5.56 for a pack of seven blades), and Williams Shaving Cream that I picked up in Amsterdam about six years ago (€2,25).  The shave was excellent and quite pleasant.  Sometimes I shall use my iKon Shavecraft 101 razor, I Coloniali soap, Shavemac silvertip badger brush and a Personna Medical Prep blade.  The shave will be just as excellent but its cost will be considerably more.  Ultimately, it comes down to what I have stated before.  It is just what I am in the mood for on any given day and has nothing to do with where I may or may not stand on the socio-economic ladder.

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(This post was last modified: 05-30-2016, 04:57 PM by celestino.)
I have, also, never correlated any soap, or any shaving item with any particular social class as I view all of us as equals and I see these items as tools to be used and enjoyed.
I do acknowledge that the majority of us are extremely fortunate to have an abundance of items in our collection, but I might seem to have a naïve view that shaving is very simplistic and we use our gear to happily to perform a rudimentary act, every morning.
Granted, we could achieve this with a very inexpensive brush, soap, razor, and such, but I think most of us enjoy experimenting with more than one of each item and as we are fortunate enough to do that, in most cases, we allow that for ourselves. Shy

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I think this argument is based upon a false premise. Much to the chagrin of those who would like to believe otherwise, we do not have social classes in America.  Certainly, there is a wide diversity of income levels and wealth accumulation, but that has nothing whatsoever in common with social classes.  Those who believe that they are "upper-class" in America are merely  confusing social classes with arrogance.

That is not to say, that there isn't a lot of snobbery of all kinds.  Clearly their are many  income, intellect, scholastic, music, art and fashion snobs and in a case of snobbery run amok, even shaving snobs. If one feels a need to be snobbish about shaving products, I would conclude that person should really take a long hard look at their personal value system.  This stuff is used to remove hair, its not a rare vintage wine or previously a undiscovered Gogan.  In my opinion all snobbery (including the pretense of non-existent social classes) is nothing more than arrogance -- except when I do it -- of course.

If we set aside the canard of class, the rest of the discussion is pure economics.  All true economics is based on human action.  That is, each person in a free-market economy makes value judgements every time that something of value is exchanged for something else of value.  In the case of shaving soap, those things are usually money in exchange for the price of a shaving soap, plus any taxes and shipping involved -- which are included because they are part of the value equation  that is used to determine whether or not to proceed with the transaction.  The price of VAT and shipping are clearly part of the equation as described by the actions of those who have abandoned shopping carts when those prices are added in to the equation -- as they must be.

When choosing shaving soaps, one is also constantly evaluating "opportunity costs."   Opportunity costs are the cost of the items not chosen in favor of those that are.  When a person has limited resources, that person must decide which of the alternatives available provides the most value to him or her and which should be foregone.  For example, assume that I determine that I will spend no more than $100 this month on shaving soap.  Should I get one tub of Martin de Candre delivered to me at a cost of $57 (52 Euros) or should I get four different scents of Stirling Soap shipped to me for slightly less than that?   If I choose both, then I will have exceeded my budget, so the one I choose will have (in my mind) more value than the other. The "opportunity cost" is what I could have had if I'd decided the other way.  Those opportunity costs are what we, may or may not, later call -- buyer's remorse.

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