Slider Cuts Is the Barber Shaping Up Culture in London

  • TextTed Stansfield
  • PhotographySamuel John Butt

As London Fashion Week Men’s kicks off, we meet Mark Maciver AKA SliderCuts – someone who is truly shaping style in the capital and changing culture here for the better

Name: Mark Maciver AKA SliderCuts – a name he took on at the age of 13 when he started MCing. “I was always sliding,” he says, referring to his favourite dance move. “Anytime someone would be like ‘what’s his name?’, they’d be like ‘Slider’ and straight away they’d be like ‘oh yeah, that makes sense’ because they’d seen me sliding.”

Background: Maciver is of Nigerian descent – his parents arrived in the UK before he was born, but sadly separated when he was three. His father returned to Nigeria, leaving his mother to raise Mark and his brothers on her own. “My mum owned a shop when we were kids but somebody robbed her supply store so, long story short, she lost the shop and we ended up homeless for a while,” he recalls. Thankfully, they got back into housing, but spent the next few years moving from flat to flat, before finally settling in Gospel Oak where Mark lived until he was 26. He now lives in Dalston with his artist wife Lakwena and their son Makelo.

Entry into Barbering: Maciver learnt how to cut hair out of necessity: his mother couldn’t afford to send him to the barbershop, but all his friends had skin fades, low fades, shape ups and lines. So, he took matters into his own hands and taught himself. After a bit of trial and error, he quickly mastered his craft and before long was cutting other people’s hair, as well as his own. “By the time I was 15, if someone in my area couldn’t make it to the barbershop, they’d come to my house,” he remembers. When Maciver was 18 he got a job at D&L’s on Hornsey Road, where he’s worked ever since. In six weeks, though, he’s opening his own shop – SliderCuts – on Hackney Road.

The Barbershop as a Space: The barbershop, as Maciver is quick to assert, is much more than a place for black men to get a shape up. “The black barbershop is one of the most important spaces in the black community because it’s the one space where black people actually meet together,” he says. “It’s one space where they connect and where, for example, a young black boy can see an older successful black man who isn’t depicted in a negative way; who isn’t a drug dealer or a robber, and who isn’t an athlete or a musician either. Because the successful [black men] aren’t only athletes and musicians. There are doctors that come into the shop, accountants, bankers, pharmacists, dog groomers – it’s all walks of life.”

His Clients: If you follow Maciver on Instagram (as 60,000 people do, at today’s count), then you’ll know that his clients include some famous faces: boxer Anthony Joshua, rappers Tinie Tempah and Stormzy, and TV presenter Reggie Yates. And yet he doesn’t discriminate – his clientele represents a complete cross-section of society; people from the local community, as well as those from out of town: “I cut everyone,” he says, “From the people cleaning the streets to someone like Anthony Joshua, who’s a heavyweight world champion.”

The Most Popular Styles in London: “The most popular styles are a fade with a natural curly top,” says Maciver. “A lot of people with afro hair, the top of their hair is a little bit high, but curly like almost twisted and that’s created with a sponge, a curl sponge. You just naturally cut someone’s hair and use the curl sponge – rub the hair and twist it. That’s like one of the popular styles in the last year, year and a half.”

The Afro Hair Influencers in London: According to Maciver, the top afro hair influencers in London right now are: Tinie Tempah who has a fade with a curly top, Anthony Joshua who has a more natural shape up (which is quite a new thing, he’s noticed), and Reggie Yates, who has a Number 1 skin fade, a Number 2 on top and waves (curls that have been flattened down).

Shaping Up Culture: Despite running a successul barbering business, Maciver is on a mission to shape up more than just hair; he wants to shape up culture, too. That, in fact, is the name of a new initiative he’s started to teach people how to run a business – something that’s particularly aimed at young men from a similar background to him. “So many people from this community are getting involved in crime and feel like there’s nothing they can do [with their lives]. Shaping Up Culture is [aimed at] helping those kids and saying there are other options, saying “what do you wanna do when you’re older?” These classes, which he’s just started, focus on the practicalities of starting a business, branding and social media, but also of staying out of trouble. “It’s not just saying ‘okay don’t get involved in this, don’t get involved with that’,” he says logically, “but ‘how do you stay out of that?’”