Craft Pop-Up Series No.1: Nigel Ruwende

Following on from last year’s 'American Craftsmen in Britain' profiles, Shinola and Jocks&Nerds have collaborated again to a create a unique series of pop-up events in Shinola’s London shop. 

Over the coming months, five different craftspeople will be setting up their own shops within the Shinola store. Members of the public can watch them working, learn what is involved in their craft, and purchase their own bespoke items.

Nigel Ruwende, 25, managing director of Saint & Birchley, a made-to-order and bespoke apron company

Where are you from?
I’m originally from Harare in Zimbabwe, but I was brought up in London.

How did you end up creating bespoke aprons?
I worked as a stylist for about five years. Over that time I became more interested in the construction of the garments themselves than creating outfits. From there I went to learn my craft, pattern-cutting and shirt-making. To be honest, it’s a never-ending learning process.

What inspires your work?
One has to look outside what one does for ideas. For me, that can be anything from the Concretism movement to the work of textile artist Anni Albers. But overarching that is a desire to follow in the tradition of artisanal work.

What makes your job so special?
I derive genuine pleasure from creating something bespoke for a client that makes them feel just that bit more confident and protected.

Is there a community aspect to your profession?
By definition, creating bespoke pieces brings me into direct contact with clients, which I love. Making aprons, my clients tend to work public-facing professions, or are individuals who are social at home, so I feel part of a greater community spirit.

Why do you think there is a resurgence in craft in the 21st century and why is that important?
In this fast-paced age, I feel it's important to have moments that allow us to slow down and appreciate the beauty that can otherwise go unseen – making us more caring, thoughtful people... That's a good thing, right?