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Pupil barrister trials UK’s first vegan wig

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Samuel March’s hemp-based prototype draws praise from legal profession

Samuel March wearing his hemp barrister’s wig

A pupil barrister has mocked up what is believed to be the country’s first vegan wig.

Samuel March of 5 Paper Buildings, a chambers specialising in criminal law, unveiled the prototype on social media which uses hemp in place of traditional horsehair.

A universal symbol of the legal profession, barristers have worn wigs crafted from horsehair since the 17th century. In 1822, Humphrey Ravenscroft of Ede & Ravenscroft, one of London’s oldest tailors and court outfitters, patented a wig that is still in use today.

Recent statistics show that veganism is on the rise, and given that vegans do not eat nor wear animal produce, it seems the legal dress industry is in want of providing for those that may object to wearing horsehair headgear.

A Legal Cheek investigation in 2017 discovered that none of the main legal dressers in the UK supplied synthetic wigs, and that a vegan-friendly version was only available to order from a company in Australia. Those were found to be made from plastic, however, and so March’s hemp prototype, which is “100% biodegradable”, looks to be the UK’s first vegan and environmentally-friendly wig.

“The wig is deeply symbolic, I wanted it to be something I would be excited and proud to wear, and I just didn’t get that feeling from the idea of a synthetic wig,” March, who turned vegan three years ago, told Legal Cheek. “I didn’t want a highly artificial material masquerading as something else; I wanted something that was natural, distinct, had some character and was proudly different. Hemp was my father’s idea initially, he is an artist … and a bit of an aging hippy. We both found the idea of wearing a plant so closely related to cannabis into the criminal courts delightfully disruptive.”

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Cambridge graduate March brought on hemp manufacturers Cultiva Kingdom to craft the wig. Laura Bossom, who has been supporting March with the production, said: “I really like the idea of long-lasting, resilient and sustainable hemp wigs. I like the image of them being passed down to incoming pupils by retiring barristers, leaving a legacy behind of a wig which won’t pollute the planet or harm any animals.”

March estimates the wig, which is handmade by a master craftsman in England, will retail for £650. This puts it in the higher end of the market with traditional horsehair wigs ranging between £400 and £700.

The reaction since he uploaded his post over the weekend has been “a bit mad”, said March, who has been “flooded” with requests for orders. “I thought I would get a handful of replies from friends and close colleagues. I’m not quite ready yet to go into business but I have been flooded with requests about how to order one.”

Karl Turner MP praised March’s prototype as a “brilliant idea”, while members of the legal profession asked when he’s “‘branching’ out into full bottomed and bench wigs?”

Ivy & Normanton, the first court outfitters for women, also welcomed the idea: “We think anything that makes the bar more sustainable and allows people to express their personality and beliefs is a good thing.”

March, who will be on his feet in court from April, is hopeful his hemp headgear catches on. He told Legal Cheek:

“I would like to think it catches on a bit. I think I was slightly misquoted in The Telegraph as saying it could be ‘the norm’ in a few years — I think that’s a stretch, but I would like to see them be a perfectly normal thing to wear.”

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23 Comments

Watch Out XR

“We both found the idea of wearing a plant so closely related to cannabis into the criminal courts delightfully disruptive.”

I wouldn’t exactly call the path of Cambridge University, Inn dinners and a £18k BPTC ‘sticking it to The Man’

(80)(7)

Your favourite Porter

Depends on the college to be honest.

(13)(17)

Not a snowflake

LMFAO!

So true, some people are so lame! grow up, nobody cares about your wig!

(8)(4)

Belt

Is this satire?

(11)(4)

Solicitor Trying to Understand Why Barristers do random shit

I know vegans get upset about using animals for anything, but there are no horses killed/harmed for the traditional horse hair wigs. So what’s the need for a plant based alternative?

(45)(10)

Bald Horse

F*ck you

(91)(5)

Not A Horse. Not Bald. I Am Trying to Empathise Here.

Christ, a typing horse! How? Those hooves must make it hard.

(12)(6)

Bob

Now I have heard of Francis the Talking Mule and Mr Ed, but typing, bulltwang!!!!

(4)(2)

Daniel the Stallion

I self identify as Horse, even though I was assigned Human at birth.

I demand the right to surgery for the creation of a tail and I’ll be damned if once I have said tail it is pruned for the purpose of making a pointless court hat for a poser in a Batman cape and a funny collar!!!!

Hellzbellz

It’s hair from slaughtered horses, not horse hair donors

(11)(3)

Looking for Horseplay

Where do they drink?

How drunk do you have to get them before they will let you clip their tails?

(3)(1)

anon

“delightfully disruptive.” Christ on a bike we lawyers are boring, boring people.

(46)(2)

Alan Robertshaw

Well done Sam; this is fantastic. I am especially in awe that you actually went out and got one made. I hope we see such wigs become commonplace in the courts.

I wonder if we can get a Cecilia Moot question out of this? 😀

(13)(10)

Anonymous

I remember the removal chaps using hemp padding when moving furniture around the family place in the Caribbean. Those mats stank. I hope the wig doesn’t have the same odour.

(5)(6)

tips@legalcheek.com

Great ideal! The horse hair wigs are no longer in fashion. I prefer to have mine made out of alpaca hair (can buy them on any alpaca farm, quite a bargain). I feel that it makes me look like a very sophisticated and open-minded person.

(2)(2)

Wiggy

Biodegradable – let’s hope it doesn’t start degrading half way through a criminal trial. Much like many of his cases might. ‘Your honour, I was on my way to deliver my weed to make to more of those wigs.’

(2)(1)

Anonymous

Can you eat it? Can you smoke it?

(3)(1)

Judge Bob

I would refuse to see a barrister in such a wig

(8)(7)

Retired Dawn

How pathetically snowflake.
Does nobody care for tradition these days? Bet it will fall apart anyway! I bought my horsehair one from a theatrical costumiers and am passing it on to the next generation

(7)(7)

Anonymous

Exactly. But these are people who decry primogeniture. I had my made from the hairs of my father’s two favourite horses, just as my father had his made that way before him.

(6)(2)

Concerned Solicitor

What in the woke?

(3)(4)

His Horsiness the Lord Horsey of Counsel, Hair to the Throne of Dublin, Keeper of the Stables, Lord High Chancellor of the Privy Armadillo Court, Order of the Tena Knickers

My wig comes with extra ribbons, tassels and medals and is already horse free!

Send a Postal Order by Carrier Pidgeon c/o Oldham YMCA

(2)(0)

1st Six Pupil

Does anyone know where I can purchase a second hand wig and gown, apart from ebay please? Preferably from a shop so I can try them on?
Most grateful for your suggestions. Thank you. 1st Six

(0)(0)

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