Billy Ruffian Shoes
Just so English...
Our Story...began a long time ago.. in fact nearly 140 years have passed since our great, great, great grandfather opened a tannery...
..in the village of Harrold, North Bedfordshire. And it´s gone on from there, generation after generation tanning and making leather for shoe makers and book binders, hand crafting leather goods in our Buckinghamshire workshop and supplying shoes to leading brands around the world.
Now the baton has been passed to the sixth generation.... We are all much taller than the olds... something to do with our mother´s famous chocolate cake? .. and to quote Fats Waller said "our feets just too big". As a result we struggle to find good quality, good looking shoes at reasonable prices...and so the idea of Billy Ruffian was born.... fabulous shoes at sensible prices in large sizes.
Our first shoe was the Ruffian Loafer. To develop this we started with the lasts (the wooden moulds which give the shoes their shape) and after a long search found some classic styles with the look we wanted from an old English shoemaker, now sadly closed. Using these as patterns, we made the Billy Ruffian lasts. Around these we wrap our beautiful leather and suede uppers... hand-stitched of course... before adding an Italian leather sole. Why leather soles you may ask? Simple... leather is a natural material that is warm in the winter, cool in the summer, moulds to the foot and is very comfortable... and perfect for dancing, too.
Soon after the Ruffian Loafer came the Trafalgar Brogue and Chatham Oxford, again with the same old English pedigree, timeless styling and incredible comfort…just so English.
At Ruffian HQ we are not all work and no play .and we just love sailing…but couldn't find boat shoes that matched our ethos of fabulous shoes at sensible prices in large sizes… and so the quest began!
Boat shoes, as we know them, evolved in America from the Red Indian moccasin. These were made by moulding and hand sewing wet leather around rudimentary lasts. As the leather dried it shrank and formed into the perfect foot shape that needed no sole and were just so comfortable. The rubber sole arrived in the middle of the last century courtesy of a Mr Sperry, who put razor cuts into the bottom to prevent them slipping on wet decks… and so the boat shoe was born. Our boat shoes continue this tradition. American leathers hand sewn on the last, siped rubber soles, latigo laces and solid brass eyelets .. comfortable, classic, durable.. in a nutshell, Billy Ruffians!
FREE pair of striped socks, with every pair of shoes...
And the socks... beautifully made in England, striped for a bit of fun and... odd... because it´s always good to know there´s a bit of rebellion tucked away when conformity is the order of the day.
Finally, why Billy Ruffian? Well, this was the affectionate name given by the sailors of Nelson´s Fleet to HMS Bellerophon which fought at the Nile, Trafalgar and accepted the surrender of Napoleon in 1815. So why did we choose it as a name for our shoes? It would be nice to say that it´s because it represents integrity, dogged Englishness and adventure, but the truth is more prosaic... we just liked it!
Billy Ruffian Shoes
Tusting & Twyman Ltd
Telephone: 01234 720897