Sorek founder Jason Gourd says Houston men aren't muted when it comes to fashion and style.
Sorek Barbershop & Menswear aims to be a consolidated grooming and styling experience. (Rendering by Michael Hsu Office of Architecture.)
Sorek will offer straight-razor shaves, beard trimming, and all of the classics.
Founder Jason Gourd learned to cut hair in Austin.
Texas' Soto & Co. is providing the tailoring, and has clients like Deshaun Watson.
EaDo is about to become even hipper thanks to a sleek new men’s pampering mecca. Sorek Barbershop & Menswear is coming to Houston’s burgeoning East Downtown neighborhood soon. This barbershop-meets-bespoke-outfitter will be spring up at 2106 Dallas, in the ever-growing East Village development. Its neighbors include the new Dallas burger import Rodeo Goat.
Sorek aims to be one part elevated barbershop and grooming with all the trimmings — classic haircuts, beard grooming, straight shaves — and one part styling and custom clothier, courtesy of Texas’ own Soto & Co.
Sorek founder Jason Gourd calls the combo “a tailored shopping experience,” no pun intended.
“You’re able to go in and everything is tailored to your specific needs,” Gourd tells PaperCity. From the new hairstyle to new clothes, “I want you to walk out knowing that ‘This is going to be mine.’ You can really take ownership of it.”
Gourd, a native Houstonian, got the idea for Sorek after working for years as a director for Emmanuel Salon. He was not cutting hair back then, but he was observing the evolution of the men’s grooming industry.
He found one of two things: Either the barbershops were sort of a franchise concept and they were paying the barbers a small hourly wage, or they were paying the barbers a lot and the business itself wasn’t doing very well.
“I needed to find some sort of consolidated solution while still having a business that made money,” Gourd says. Sorek is the answer — a clothing business that gives the barbershop a foundation, and a barbershop that brings steady traffic to support the retail element.
“First off, it’s an amazing experience going into a barbershop and receiving that high level of service, then you look over and someone’s getting fitted for a suit,” Gourd says.
So three years ago, Gourd struck out on his own. He headed to Austin to learn to cut hair. That’s where he met custom suit phenom Rick Soto. The Texas-based fashion guru boasts high-profile clients like NFL players Marquise Goodwin, Jamaal Charles, Earl Thomas, Emmanuel Acho and the Texans’ own superstar quarterback to be Deshaun Watson.
“I explained my concept to Rick and it resonated between us,” Gourd says. They collaborated on the vibe of Sorek, which will not be the old-school, barbershop-pole place you might be expecting. Prohibition-style decor is too prohibitive.
Instead, they are going with a mid-century modern loft aesthetic, courtesy of Houston’s Michael Hsu Office of Architecture. Sorek is currently under construction. Think crisp, light, contemporary, with service to match.
“The goal is to elevate it in a way that guys feel like they’re getting a bit more for their money. More of an experience,” Gourd says. Sorek will offer amenities like hot towels and men’s facial treatments. Nothing too intense. Options will include refreshing, express treatments like cleaners and exfoliants.
“Men only have so many opportunities to have relaxing experiences,” Gourd says. “There are spas across Houston and across the U.S. None of those are catered toward men.”
A Barbershop That Truly Pampers Men
The new generation of barbershops is specifically created to give men that opportunity to relax, Gourd says. His goal is for clients that come in, minds bustling with thoughts of work and all the things they have to do that day, and “leave feeling like a new man, ready to get after it again.”
So much of that comes from Soto & Co., the clothier Gourd fell in love with in Austin. The company got its start in a renovated food truck, adding a funky, authentic element he’d seen nowhere else. Other Houston custom shops just don’t have this type of backstory.
Authenticity is key for Sorek, where the ultimate goal is making men feeling refreshed and more comfortable than ever in their own skin.
“The customization for a Soto & Co. suit goes as deep as the buttons, the color of the stitches, the lining, the piping,” Gourd says. The fitting process is incredibly precise. “It’s something that you make your own,” Gourd notes. Something off the rack just can’t replicate that feeling.
This EaDo entrepreneur is excited to see what Houston men bring to Sorek. “Houston is not muted in any way in terms of fashion or style,” Gourd says. “Guys in Houston, especially in this area, have just as much a sense of style as everyone else.” Including trendier cities like his former home Austin.
Houston was handpicked as Sorek’s home from the start.
“I have a huge passion for it. Mostly because of the people. Everyone here — they really treat it as home,” Gourd says.
“Other kind of trendy towns, like Nashville, Portland, Austin… I feel like nobody really has that homey sort of vibe.”