Schorem is as much a household name as you’ll get in barbering. Simply put, Schorem embodies the tradition of barbering in the heart of Rotterdam.  

We interviewed Schorem master barber, Robert-Jan Rietveld aka Bertus about his creative process, wildest ideas and what barbering is to him.  

BNV: Where do you come up with the ideas for your collections? 

Bertus: To be honest, I don’t do ‘collections,’ I usually spot models wherever I go, it might be at a festival, on the train or for example a friend of my daughter. I think everybody is unique and walks to their own beat in life. I can’t tell what it is that draws my attention, it can be a certain attitude but I find it hard to explain because I like confidence and even a little arrogance just as much as shyness but it’s usually the model that gives me an idea of what to do. 

BNV: How do you find your models? 

Bertus: I just want to add to answer one that in my eyes everybody can be a model! Working with professional models is kinda boring to me… I mean, you can take a dump on Brad Pitt’s head and the motherfucker is still handsome as fuck right? I hate him…  

From the early days of Schorem, our credo has been ‘real haircuts on real people.’ It’s a barber shop, we’re there for the average Joe and we’re not all blessed with perfect genes… I find it a 1,000 times more satisfying to make somebody look better than making some pretty boy look like he always does. 

BNV: Was the half flattop, half undone look spur of the moment? Or is part of showing off your process? 

Bertus: It was definitely planned. I’ve been doing these half haircuts a lot lately, it all started when I had my buddy Matty Conrad as a model for a show in Orlando. I only had 30 minutes on stage so I cut and groomed half his hair and it really worked out, now it’s kinda become a trademark I like to play with… I have a lot of fun with it AND it makes me rethink techniques. 

BNV: What is your favourite aspect of shooting collections? 

Bertus: Working with my favourite people, photographer Jelle Mollema, stylist and concept developer Geert-Jan Renzen and of course the brilliant Jaffith Levy who always comes up with brilliant outfits. These guys always inspire me to push harder and they kinda force you to think outside the box. I love the feeling that something comes out even better than you hoped. 

BNV: What is the essence of barbering to you? 

Bertus: A happy patron, the rest is futile… 

BNV: For a lot of barbers Schorem will have been their introduction to barber culture, how does that make you feel? 

Bertus: Lately, I’m hearing the words ‘blessed’, ‘humble’ and ‘proud’ a little bit too much on the mighty worldwide web… if you’re really humble you just kinda shut up about it right? But yeah, of course, I’m proud as a seven-dicked monkey!  

The thing is though, barbering has been around for centuries, I think we were a part of the ‘renaissance’ but that’s just one brick in the foundation of what barber shops worldwide are building at the moment. I never wanted to be a role-model or a poster boy, I just want to enjoy what I do and if my work inspires people then that is the perfect frame to compliment my artwork… 

I know when I get inspired by other people’s work. It’s a huge energy boost to go out and create new shit so knowing I can do that for any brother or sister of the smock out there warms my black leather heart. 

BNV: What advice would you give to young barbers? 

Bertus: Do it for the right reasons, starting a band to get famous without loving the music you make is a festering sore… Whatever your goal might be, only hard work and patience will get you there. 

BNV: What is your wildest idea for a collection? 

Bertus: I dream of doing a photoshoot with Scarlett Johansson who’s cooking an egg in my kitchen wearing nothing but one of my old boxer shorts and a satisfied smile…