An impending new year always prompts us to reflect on everything that’s happened over the last twelve months. Despite the snakes and ladders of the past year, we have still seen glimmers of hope and optimism as lockdown restrictions eased and we were able to reconnect with our loved ones.
With planning sheets flipped, laptops open, pens poised and diaries at the ready we sat down this time last year to set our intentions for 2021. Our aim was to provide you with more of the RUSKIN experience: more feeling, more storytelling and more connection. As a small team, this certainly kept us busy! It has been a great pleasure to share more of the RUSKIN story with you. Read on to find out what we were able to achieve.
The RUSKIN design spirit is fundamentally inspired by nature. Our brand has always been built upon foundations of sustainability; using high-quality, natural materials to create handcrafted, tailored styles. To that end, we were delighted to kick-start January by discussing this philosophy with Essential Journal. We have continued to steadfastly promote these core values that favour a slower, more considered approach to design and production – in spite of global trends towards fast fashion – which is why we made the considered decision to sit out Black Friday. We were able to reach more and more customers over the course of the year – earning us a reputation as a brand that creates long-lasting, versatile accessories – and we were incredibly flattered that this led us to feature in Culture Whisper’s best designer handbags list for S/S 2021.
Not only were we able to release various styles in a range of new colours this year, but we were also thrilled to add two entirely new designs to our collection. June saw the arrival of our Clutch Con Cinta: a classic clutch reimagined as an elegant belt bag, handcrafted by our artisans from soft Italian Nappa leather and notable for its silky-smooth texture. We launched The Kepler backpack in October, created with Herdwick tweed to deliver style, comfort and lightweight durability in equal measure. We hope you love these two new styles as much as we do.
As we continue to develop the RUSKIN collection, we have captured the beauty of our latest designs in a series of photoshoots. In May, we headed North to Edinburgh for our shoot, The Dreamers, photographed by the talented Laura Meek. This whimsical campaign brought a sense of nostalgia for the good times, punctuated by dreamy moments of hope and freedom for the future.
With a flurry of excitement we also introduced our brand video in August which reflects our honest endeavour to bridge innovation and modernity with traditional craft in the production of our designs. We are so grateful to Maciek Tomiczek of Oxford Atelier who captured this video so beautifully in the quiet Lakeland valleys and traditional Yorkshire mills where our story begins.
Our 2021 highlight had to be the opening of our first bricks-and-mortar studio in Oxford, which we heralded in with our A/W 2021 campaign by photographer Syl O’Jalla, who captured the seasonal shift as we danced through the streets of Oxford, buzzing with excitement to have settled into our new home.
While the online experience continues to be easy and efficient, but to somehow connect us and distance us at the same time, we believe that there are so many compelling reasons to remain grounded and to interact in the real world. We hope that our studio will not just be a place where you can discover our designs, but it will also be a place of creativity and will provide exciting opportunities for us meet you and to share our story.
The studio itself is beautifully simple; a small haven for discerning, design-conscious customers looking to discover honest designs and to make considered purchases. Our hope is to offer a unique in-store experience, showcasing our designs with contemporary and minimalist product displays that celebrate our styles and materials. All of our products benefit from physical touch, so we really encourage the hands-on, sensory interaction with our collection. This human factor is integral to RUSKIN: we offer you a curated experience to discuss your needs and receive a bespoke service (such as custom gift-wrapping and local delivery options), whilst sharing our sensibility of quality and an inherent understanding of the craft behind the designs we have on offer.
Finally, we rounded off the year huddled together with hot chocolates in the chilly December air at Soho Farmhouse’s annual Festive Market, with a sense of hopeful excitement of what the coming year will bring.
All things considered, we are really proud of what we were able to achieve in 2021. As 2021 draws to a close, we would like to extend our gratitude to you for your continued support of RUSKIN. As a small business, our supporters are incredibly important to us – without you, none of these milestones would have been achievable.
We have lots in store for 2022 and we can’t wait to continue to share our journey with you.
Wishing you and your loved ones all the best as we transition into a new year.