Our Graduate Fashion Week judges series will close with an interview with Oliver Ruuger, designer and founder of Silent Goods, a craftsmanship focused sustainable leather goods company.
How did you get involved in the fashion industry?
I graduated from the Fashion Artefact MA course at the London College of Fashion and my final collection consisted of paired objects such as umbrellas, briefcases and saddles, made from leather, metal and horsehair. The objects appeared weightless, invisibly suspended 1 meter from the ground. This work won both the Best Off-Catwalk Design Award from the college itself as well as the Accessories Collection of the Year Award at International Talent Support in Italy. I went on to establish a craft studio with master craftsman Volker Koch. Over the past 7 years, we’ve continued to build our studio and expertise, working together on many private commissions. After years of preparation, we launched the in-house brand Silent Goods in 2017.
Who and what inspires you?
I have always found the most inspiration in materials and the making process. Of course, running a workshops plays a big part of this. In our process, we begin with just a hint of an idea and do not try to push it too far through sketching, rather letting it come to life through experimentation.
Could you tell me a bit more about your current role and responsibilities?
I am the founder/designer of Silent Goods, a craftsmanship focused sustainable leather goods company. Our team currently consists of only five people, so the roles and responsibilities are very mixed. Next to the more mundane day-to-day tasks, at the moment most of my time is taken up with our new website which is due to launch in the next few weeks.
How did your relationship with YKK begin?
I met Kei Kagami, the YKK Europe Ltd Ambassador in 2011 at International Talent Support in Italy, where he was a member of the Jury. He loved a piece I had made for the competition and ordered it as a gift for his wife. We have kept in touch ever since. One of the founding principles of the Silent Goods project I am working on is about finding sustainable materials for every part of the bags we make. This means looking in depth at not only at the main materials like leather and textile used, but also the invisible and less visible materials like stitching thread, glue, and of course, zips. YKK has a range called Natulon® which is something we are very interested in at the moment.
What did you enjoy the most about Graduate Fashion Week?
Meeting the graduates and discovering what is important to them at this particular point in time is very interesting. It was nice to be part of the positive energy and enthusiasm.
If you had one piece of advice for fashion students, what would it be?
Don’t feel under pressure to follow certain rules or formulas to succeed. Nothing is set in stone. For instance, our studio now creates high end luxury brands with no branding. This is quite unusual for the industry, but I think it really helps to create a connection with the customer.
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