Jason Thompson eyes a fresh hairline before going back in to touch it up.
A gentle, persistent hum is in the air–the comfortable buzz of clippers skating the curves of a man’s head under fluorescent lights. Family photos and Blazers memorabilia hang from the walls. Rap music pulses from the old stereo system in the corner and there’s a basketball game on one of the TVs. Men with infectious smiles and knee-slapping jokes come in and out through the backdoor to talk about anything and everything. This is the barbershop. This is Mos Faded.
Thompson started cutting hair when he was a middle school student in Eugene in the 1980s, first cutting his own hair before moving on to his friends. After graduating high school and getting his barber’s license, he moved back to Eugene and began working at Mos Faded in 2003. Today, he co-owns the bustling barbershop with longtime friend and fellow barber Alan McKinney.
Barbershops weren’t always accessible to everyone. From the 19th to the early 20th century, most Black-staffed barbershops only serviced prominent white businessmen and politicians. According to Quincy T. Mills in his book, “Cutting Along the Color Line: Black barbers and Barbershops in America,” Black barbers had to balance the continued forced segregation after slavery was abolished and their own expectations of upward mobility. It wasn’t until around 1940 that these barbershops openly serviced Black men and became commercial public spaces to them. Now, barbershops like Mos Faded create valuable communities where anyone can come in and feel welcomed.
Jason touches up a fresh hairline.
At the heart of the Mos Faded community are the Friday regulars, united by a tradition that, as far as anyone knows, has been a part of the shop since its inception. Almost every Friday night, this group of longtime customers gathers at Mos Faded for a quick cut courtesy of Jason and to catch up with each other over a cigarette or a drink out back.
Kevin Broadous talks with his hands during a shared moment of laughter among some of the Friday regulars.
“Love is the shop. The shop is love. It’s what we do.” – Beau Jefferson, Friday regular
Beau Jefferson, seated, embraces another Friday regular as they say goodbye.
McKinney credits Thompson for establishing the vibe and community in Mos Faded.