It is becoming generally accepted in the wet shaving community that not every blade is suitable for every face and that one must experiment broadly to find the blade(s) that will work best. Hence the by now common caveat to all blade reviews that YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary). This probably explains why there are (still) hundreds of DE blades on the market made in almost every nation including Germany, Japan, Egypt, Pakistan, India, Korea, and the USA, among many others. And among the many vendors of such blades one stands out as the head-and-shoulders leader, or Ace of Blades as I have called him, one Giovanni Abrate, owner of Barbiera Italiana (www.tryphon.it). Giovanni stocks more than 50 brands (and growing), offering an unprecedented opportunity to sample the common as well as the obscure from the world of DE blades.
There I was a couple of years ago, minding my own business, happily shaving with Merkur and Feather DE blades and thinking I was getting a great shave, when I happened to order a sampler pack from Giovanni which contained among others, the Treet Blue Special, an incredibly inexpensive ($0.10 at the time) carbon steel blade with a gorgeous black finish, that instantly became my blade. It shaved like nothing else I had ever experienced, with a near perfect balance of sharpness and smoothness. Another blade reviewer on a popular shaving forum hated it and trashed it mercilessly, saying outright that anyone who likes this blade must be brain-dead. A rebellion ensued with epithets flying back and forth between the two “camps” and members being permanently evicted. Such is the power of the blade!
But I digress. The Barbiera Italiana web site is somewhat primitive, lacking the by now common B2C bells and whistles such as automated order entry, etc. Basically you select what you want, write it in a email, and send it to Giovanni for processing. At first this was a little disconcerting, used as I am to the easy order entry common to most sites. But you know what? I love it…with every order I actually get to connect with a real person who gets to know me and my likes and dislikes. It is so much better in fact, that these days I just send Giovanni an email saying “I see a number of new blades on your web site; please put together a sampler pack of the ones you think I might like, I’m too lazy to put the order together!” And inevitably I get stuff that is very closely aligned with my tastes.