When it comes to fashion, both luxury labels and heritage brands are responding to a renaissance in classic equestrian chic. From Hermès and Gucci to heritage British brands Swaine Adeney Brigg and Hunter, there is a worldwide rise in sales, particularly in Asia and the Middle East. As a result, equestrian classicism is back on the style radar.
While most customers are not actually riders themselves, it’s what the equestrian lifestyle represents that lures shoppers. Horses have forever been symbols of power in history and literature. And think about it, the horse, after all, was the first athlete clothed by the house. Founded in 1837 in Paris to kit out European noblemen and women with harnesses, bridles and saddles for carriages, Hermès reflects these traditions with its current “A Sporting Life” ad campaign.
Exquisite leatherwork, tailoring and practicality makes equine-inspired style sexy and timeless, as shown in Le Monde d’Hermès, a glossy spring/summer brochure produced by the quintessential equestrian-inspired luxury brand.
The Italian luxury fashion label Gucci, founded by Guccio Gucci in Florence in 1921 and specializing in luggage for aristocrats, has in more recent years returned to the equestrian world, recruiting Charlotte Casiraghi, a 26-year-old show-jumper whose credentials also include being fourth in line to the throne of Monaco, as the face of the company.
Last year Gucci launched a new 15-piece equestrian collection, characterized by house signatures such as the horse bit and green-red-green webbing stripe. Although the gabardine jackets and velvet-covered riding cap could be worn sitting in their Guccissima leather saddle, they would not look out of place outside the paddock.
A large part of today’s popular fashion trends is full of equestrian influences. On almost any runway you’ll find an outfit that has a distinct hint of horseback riding style. The following popular fashion trends owe their inspiration to equestrians:
- Tall boots: Within the last few years, fashion tall boots have grown to closely resemble those worn by hunter, jumper and dressage riders. Some of today’s fashionable tall boots so closely resemble riding boots that it can be hard to tell them apart. From fake spurs to spur rests to accent brown leather at the knee, you can’t deny that tall boots were inspired by equestrians.
- Cowboy boots: Now a fashion statement, a major part of a Western rider’s wardrobe make a perfect pairing with jeans or a skirt for a night out. Not just for work anymore, men’s and women’s cowboy boots are a popular fashion accessory. Today fashion western style boots, made out of artificial leather (some even with high heels), are available at a lower price point than the cost of a genuine pair.
- Western shirts: These plaid, collared button-downs were inspired by those shirts popular among Western riders. Today’s trendy western-style shirts often sport decorative embroidery and accent buttons, and can be a versatile item for layering.
- Polo shirts: This makes up perhaps one of the equestrian world’s greatest influences on popular fashion. Polo shirts were originally favored by polo players because their collars stayed in place. Today their popularity is widespread, and the shirt owes its name to players of the past. One of the most notable designers of polo shirts, Ralph Lauren, still pays homage to the polo’s origin with its embroidered logo of a polo player and horse.
- Breech-style tights: Female fashion reflects the recent trend of tights styled to resemble breeches. These tights feature the form-fitting breech style, and many sport accent pockets and even artificial knee patches. Most commonly styled with sandals or another type of minimalist shoe, these breech-style tights are a distinctive nod to the fashion of the horse world.