Breaking 200-some years of tradition, vegan barrister wigs are to be made in the UK for the first time—replacing traditional horsehair with hemp. As it turns out hemp makes the perfect replacement for horsehair wigs without disturbing animals.
Samuel March, 29, who studies to become a barrister, unveiled the prototype on Twitter on February 27, wearing it himself.
The prototype has arrived.
This is the world’s first hemp barrister’s wig.
0% horsehair, 100% vegan friendly.
— Samuel March (@Sam_Oscar_March) February 27, 2021
Ivy & Normanton is the UK’s first legal outfitter for women, and one of the first to jump on the opportunity of stocking the hemp wigs. Karlia Lykourgou, founder of Ivy & Normanton and practicing criminal barrister at Doughty Street Chambers told The Telegraph, “There’s definitely a positive conversation to be had and we are interested. I’ve actually been shown a synthetic wig and it does not have the same quality as a horsehair wig. The legal garb that we wear is significant and it means something.”
She emphasized the seriousness of her role in the legal system. “We do not want to dilute the quality of this garb that we wear, it’s a sacred uniform and it takes a lot to get there,”: Lykourgou continued. “A hemp wig sounds like it might have a similar quality to horsehair, there’s certainly a conversation to be had.”
Little has changed in many of the traditions in British court. A barrister in the UK offers specialist advice and represents clients in a court or tribunal. Horsehair wigs have been worn by barristers in the country for nearly 200 years after they were invented in 1822 by Humphrey Ravenscroft—founder of the same company that manufactures court attire in modern times.
Replacing horsehair with hemp is certainly a win for European animal rights activists, especially when the wigs will be made from a plant with such sustainable properties.