“I don’t make a lot of gloves,” says Rick Shawcross, whose business is, ironically, making gloves. In his home workshop outside of Winnipeg, Manitoba, the 67-year-old makes some of the finest, most supple and durable gloves we’ve ever worn. The reason he makes so few is that he crafts each pair himself, sourcing the perfect deer hides—both tough and pliable, deer leather is ideal for gloves—and then stretching, shaping and cutting the material by hand with tools he has used for over 40 years.
Larger companies typically craft gloves from multiple pieces of leather by cutting around deficiencies, unlike Shawcross, who makes each pair from a single exemplary skin (from $115 for an unlined pair). Most gloves are made piecemeal, by many sets of hands, so there’s no connection to the finished product—or its wearer. Shawcross speaks to many of his customers, discussing their measurements and deciding if they need cashmere or lambskin lining. He speaks of those clients as friends, and they speak of him in nearly mystical terms. Not that he’s highfalutin about his work. “It’s not art,” he says. “For me it’s a craft. For everybody else, it’s a business.”