It’s been a long winter, but spring has finally arrived and with it, the promise of warm temps, sunshine and greenery. Riders across Canada will be heading outdoors for showing, training or just hacking and each and every one (especially if you have spent the winter in sweats) will want to look the part.
Equestrian fashion doesn’t change at the speed of ready-to-wear designers like Marc Jacobs or Gucci, but there are new colours, fabrics and textures to look out for this season to ensure you’re au courant.
The last year has been a challenging one to say the least, but has this manifested itself in the fashion arena? Judging by the toning down of the colour palette, reduced bling and pattern, we’ll say yes, designers and manufacturers are taking note of the collective mood and reading the room.
That’s not to say you won’t love what’s in stores and online; in fact, the palettes and silhouettes you will find are sophisticated chic looks that will stand the test of time. And while you won’t see a slew of checkered breeches, you will find shades that pop to brighten your rides. But not to worry if your tastes lean towards more traditional looks ‒ you will find plenty available in your beloved blacks, navies and burgundies, too.
Subdued Shades … or a Splash of Colour
A quick perusal of European brand Pikeur’s spring ’21 catalogue will reveal muted but classic colours and cuts such as the Pikeur Birdy Ladies Functional Shirt in graphite (above left), or its Lucinda Grip breech in light aubergine (centre) and the Lu Ladies full grip breech in walnut (right). These shades are subdued, but are oh so pretty and feminine.
American online retailer SmartPak has launched its spring “Tropical Color Escape” collection which includes a variety of sun shirts, breeches and even saddle pads and polos in colors such as “paradise purple” (below left) and tropical pink (centre). Riding breeches on the site come in bold color combos like “barn red” with “blue bird seat.” And we love that you can outfit your horse with matching colours, should you choose.
At fellow American brand Ariat, Italy proved to be the go-to inspiration for its latest show look. The Speranza Collection, which launches this spring for both men and women, is a modern sleek take on classic show style. The label sourced the fabrics and even artisan tailors in Italy to create the looks, which resulted in a mash up of Italian craftsmanship and American design. “It enjoys the benefits of living in both worlds and riders will appreciate the fit and feel the minute they pull on the breeches and slip into the show coat,” explains Tara Roemke, Ariat’s VP, apparel merchandising.
The fabrics are also made to hold their shape while still offering up support for the rider, even over fences. “The fabric has tremendous amount of stretch and recovery that provide complete freedom of movement. There is zero restriction,” explains Susan Glynn, vice president, apparel design & development for the brand. “We are able to cut the garments in a sleek way because the fabric has so much stretch.”
Glynn adds that another thing the brand is doing is pushing sustainable fabric into their line. “We have added more recycled polyester yarns, converted to carbon free water repellent finishes and much more into our products to help our environment.”
Technical show jackets also appear at brands such as RJ Classic and Schockemöhle, two labels that Canadian retailer Equestrian Fashion Outfitters carries in store and on their extensive online shop.
“Technical mesh show jackets will be what everyone will be wearing,” says Sarah McWilliams, director of retail operations & buyer at Equestrian Fashion Outfitters (EFO). “And they don’t wrinkle the same as some of the older technical fabrics jackets that have come out on the market in the last five years. This is a game changer for sure.”
Stick With Me
She also adds that breeches follow the street-wear trend in jeans, so you’ll find a selection of high-waisted choices.
And as every rider from jumper to dressage and now even hunter traditionalist have discovered, there is no escaping the silicone seat, it has completely replaced the suede. And who doesn’t love the stick it provides in the saddle as well as the fun patterns.
Riding tights with cellphone pockets are also available in abundance for those casual rides.
For colours, remember all those plaid and checkered breeches? Time to hang them up. Prints are a thing of the past. The look for spring and summer is solid hues, but embellishments remain, albeit subtle.
“There are some well-placed crystals on a pocket,” says McWilliams. “But overall, the trend is towards solid, basic colors, less bling.”
However, McWilliams notes, when it comes to tops, people are taking more fashion risks with brighter colors, and yes, even some neon pink. And as in show jackets, when it comes to riding shirts and tops, technical fabrics remains as hot as ever, with an emphasis on UV protection in the form of long sleeve “sun shirts” that have a built in 50 SPF. The quarter-zip continues to be the top seller in this particular look.
Also, this spring EFO will launch a new version of its popular “mystery box.” Now dubbed the “style box”, the retailer is selling these limited-edition boxes for $299. Inside will be a pair of new breeches, a top ‒ could be a sun shirt, a vest or sweater ‒ all of which will come from the current 2021 styles. Plus 1-3 accessories that might include a new pair of gloves, a belt or other equestrian items.
You can even look super-cool while hanging around the barn. Devon Wagenaar at Halter Equestrian Apparel in Milton, Ontario, says “There are so many wonderful colours this season; three we are focused on for our Spring/Summer lineup are Steel Grey, Sky Blue and Heather Purple.
“Our new Bamboo Equestrian Forever Tee (left) is available in Steel Grey. We also have our new Bamboo Stretch Halter Scripted Tee being released soon in a popular 2021 Sky Blue colour with cap sleeves (centre). Both of these tees are crafted using a blend of Sustainable Bamboo and organic cotton that’s naturally breathable, moisture-wicking and unbelievably soft for riding in. Both are fully designed and made in Canada and part of our Eco-Smart Bamboo Collection.
“Our third and newest Spoil Your Horse Tee will be available in a beautiful Heather Purple. It is designed with Airlume combed and ring-spun cotton to help give it that super soft feeling throughout the day.”
So whether you show this season or decide to spend the spring and summer months training and hacking instead, one thing is for certain, you will be able to shop for the latest equestrian fashion from the safety of home, or if we’re lucky the pandemic will be under control and we can return to in-person shopping with our riding buddies. Because let’s be honest, in these challenging times a little retail therapy goes a long, long way.