Before face to face contact didn’t feel like a distant memory, we had the opportunity to sit down with Maria Rudman during Paris Fashion Week to discuss her eponymous brand, her approach to design and the importance of heritage. Made from mostly Scandinavian reindeer leather, with ornate silver or pewter embroidery and fastened with horn or silver buttons, these bracelets put joy in the everyday and continue to grow in magnificence with age and wear.
Sustainability used to be the go-to buzzword, before coronavirus stole the limelight. Companies started to relaunch themselves with an environmentally minded, organic approach, which while a noble and justifiable position in today’s climate, may not always have appeared as genuine as intended. But for Maria Rudman and her brand, which has been active for over 25 years now, there’s no need to put a label of sustainability on something when it is simply how they have always done things.
“Now it’s a movement, but we’ve been feeling this movement for a long time… (for us) it was never going to be a fashion, and we’re never going to put a name over it of sustainable, or a hashtag, because that is what it is.”
Growing up by a lake in Sweden, and surrounded by beautiful crafts made by the Sami (the original inhabitants of northern Scandinavia), Rudman implements many years of research and collaboration with the Sami and other craftsmen to create intensely intricate and remarkable pieces that still follow techniques that have remained unchanged for hundreds of years. And it’s these longstanding, skilful practices that make wearing a Maria Rudman bracelet such a mix of traditionalism and modernity. Stylish and attractive jewellery that holds so much history and culture – to the untrained eye, these key elements could be grossly underappreciated. As this type of craft becomes more and more scarce, the decline of its cultural significance is not lost on Rudman.
“Young people now, seem to want to become designers, and don’t want to work in an old-fashioned way. To make these bracelets, it’s really hard work. It’s a year of life – you have to feed the reindeers, you have to follow them, prepare the hide…it’s a lot of work.”
Although based in Paris, Rudman has maintained relationships with her craftswomen and men for years, which isn’t always an easy task (“The last time I went to Lapland, it took me four days… Four days to have a coffee!”).
Maria Rudman bracelets represent dedication. These pieces don’t come about without dedication on every front, from reindeer herding, to sensitively and proudly keeping the heritage they represent alive with a fresh spirit, maintaining long-distance relationships and adhering to old techniques that take toil and time. The traditional methods and the designs of these crafts have inspired Maria to continue creating new collections. And when you’re still wearing your favourite bracelet years down the line, you’ll realise that the wear and tear has only added to its beauty, and your dedication played its part too, just as Rudman intended.