About Rudie - A Letter From Ruby Wortis
Hi. I'm Ruby. Sounds like Rudie. But. You know. Kinda different.
In the Summer of 2021, I began making my own clothes at night on a dusty second-hand sewing machine in my bedroom. Now, Rudie is my full-time job. I want to tell you a bit about my personal history as well as the history of the ethos of Rudie, which has existed far before I came along.
Maybe you’ve heard the Clash song Rudie Can’t Fail. Or the Specials cover A Message to You Rudy. Both are references to Jamaican street culture in the 1960s. Rude Boys and Rude Girls were a disenfranchised, fed-up gaggle of youth who loved ska and rocksteady (predating the reggae and later dancehall genres of popular Jamaican music). They took style inspiration from jazz musicians and American cowboy films, and in general embodied an anger for the economic and political systems that kept them down, as well as a jubilance for being young and rebellious.
This outlook on life, understandably, gelled well with the UK’s punks in the 1970s and 80s. Rudie became a slang term for heretics that listened to two-tone ska. This genre attempted to address racial inequality in Thatcher-era Britain. They wore a lot of black-and-white checkerboard to reference black and white cultures coming together. We see this political use of checkerboard all the time! Think Vans sneakers. Bet you never thought about that!!
I am obsessed with the intersection of political messaging and personal style. When did a tie-dye t-shirt begin to signal to the public that you were anti-war? Why did monarchies of the past enforce laws that said they were the only people allowed to wear purple? The use of fashion to communicate for a cause is a common thread throughout our history. Think about the Sex Pistols. Did you know that their signature plaid uniform that became ubiquitous with the punk rock movement was a reference to the Scottish Jacobite rebellion of the 1700s? Google it. Or just come to a party at my house and I will talk your ear off about it for hours.
I was raised by Gen X punks in New York City. My dad played bass in a band that did NOT sound like music and my mom slept in her combat boots for years on the road, herding musicians from venue to venue. I definitely had tinnitus by the age of ten. My grandparents were far left (further. further left than you’re thinking.) activists who cared deeply about social programs and peace on Earth. I am beyond proud to be from a lineage of rebels.
So! Where does Rudie The Brand fit into this? It’s all of the above, plus the fun and whimsy and comfort that I personally need in my closet. It’s ethically made (either by me or at a local atelier where every employee is paid a living wage and their safety is prioritized). We are a minimum waste brand and use textiles tested for harmful substances. We are for everybody with a body.
We really, really care.
Okay love you bye!