Trevor Sorbie, global hairstyling icon and the winner of the Cosmoprof Life Achievement Award 2024, shares his thoughts and his vision, based on his incredible expertise and career.

On the occasion of Cosmoprof Worldwide Bologna 2024, Trevor Sorbie reveals the significant transformation of the hair sector owing to the focus on sustainability, new innovations and the attention to the widespread social media.

Since you started your career in the hair industry, many changes occurred. What are the factors that, in your opinion, differentiate hairstyling today? How have the professionals and the sector evolved?

The industry’s point of view, also due to social media like Instagram for example, is oriented towards the future. When I’m employing people in my salon and work with them, if they come to me, it might take perhaps 2 or 3 years for them to learn what I believe is the right way to learn. But I have a problem, because they don’t want to wait that long. The industry is moving forward fast, however, I believe in the trade – I mean a PROFESSION, something that has value, something that requires years of learning. Unfortunately, I think young people don’t want to wait long. But I think that we cannot try to become a famous hairdresser overnight. Today’s hairdressers need to slow down and understand true craftsmanship. Being a hairdresser is not a job, it’s a trade. It’s a lifelong learning experience. And my worry is that today’s hairdressers may not be adequately prepared.. With talent one can grow but with training, skills are sharpened. That’s the right approach to follow.

You have travelled all over the world and have been a guest star on the most prestigious catwalks: are there any specific differences in the hair sector from one continent to the other? How did the markets change, and which are, the most interesting ones to take into consideration for the future?

Different countries have different mentalities and different ways of showing appreciation. For example, when you go to America, if you do something good, like in Las Vegas, they applaud you, they make you feel like a hero. I like it, but I believe that in America there’s never a negative reaction even if the work is not appreciated. I worked many years in Italy, and what I like is that Italians appreciate class, they appreciate good work. I remember, for example, when I worked onstage with Aldo Coppola: he had class, and when I say class, I mean class in everything:
architecture, creativity, passion. I’ve had the opportunity to experience different mentalities,

different cultures, but for the future, we need to look at Japan, which is hungry to learn, and when people are hungry to learn, they become very skilled. Australia is also a country we should look to: it feels like the bottom of the world, so it has much more desire to show its value to other continents.

In my generation, we used to watch fashion designers on the catwalk and were inspired by them. People such as Guido, Eugene Souliman, Sam McKnight, great artists who shared what it really means to be one of fashion’s great hairdressers. Now, I believe things have changed. People are influenced by the pop world; I think inspiration comes especially from the music world. Young people in the music industry have the strongest influence and dictate trends today.

Cosmoprof Worldwide Bologna celebrated your career with the life achievement award, and you are an international icon for hairstylist and hair lovers. What would you recommend today to young people who would like to start this career?

When I was starting my career, my father was a barber. He said to me, “Trevor, if you thought well, you become good,” very simple words but with great meaning. My advice to every young person is to go to a salon that has its own education. Go to the best salon in your city, in your town, and learn from them. You will find out why they are the best; now it’s their path you must follow. Don’t go to a small salon; it’s not the right way to learn, go to a salon where people want to go, find their secret, follow their secret. And keep learning! I’m 75 years old and still learning. I’ll tell you another thing: before looking ahead, you have to look back, look at what has been done, be inspired by the past, by famous people, to understand what made them famous.

Cosmoprof, for me, is a longstanding worldwide organization that is doing a lot for the industry and professionals, with much appreciation for artists who want to improve. It provides them with a platform that allows visibility: it gives artists a wonderful push towards the future and offers them an extraordinary opportunity to make their mark.

Source: Cosmoprof Worldwide Bologna