By Natasha Doff
LONDON — Pall Mall, a wood-paneled barbershop founded in 1896 near Buckingham Palace, has so many bookings for gentlemen's shaves you could be forgiven for thinking another royal wedding was approaching.
This time it's not about Prince William and Kate Middleton. It's about mustaches.
"Movember," a global campaign that encourages men to grow mustaches in November to support the fight against prostate and testicular cancers, is filling barbers in London with men keen to start the month cleanshaven.
"Thursday through Saturday this week will be our busiest shave days this year," said Pall Mall Barbers General Manager Daniel Davies. "We're expecting about a 50 percent rise on normal orders."
The fundraiser, which started in 2003, is benefiting from the burgeoning popularity of male grooming and Movember's celebrity signings. The global male grooming market grew 33 percent to $33.6 billion between 2003 and 2012, according to Euromonitor International. The market researcher predicts that the industry will grow another 3.3 percent this year.
"The whole facial hair segment has become more fashionable, and sales of facial equipment and products have skyrocketed," said Bryan Roberts, an analyst at Kantar Retail in London. "It's a happy coincidence that Movember happened alongside that general trend."
Last year, 1.1 million people took part in Movember around the world, raising more than 92 million pounds ($148 million), according to the group's website. Participant numbers soared 29 percent from 2011 to 2012, after doubling from the previous year.
Formula 1 driver Mark Webber and various U.S. football stars are taking part this year. Chef Jamie Oliver, actor Stephen Fry and James Bond star Daniel Craig have grown mustaches in previous years.
"Most men have always wanted an excuse to grow a mustache," Movember co-founder Justin Coghlan said in a phone interview. "So many cool people in history have had mustaches, from Einstein to Dali to Jimi Hendrix. We feel like we've brought back something cool."