Horse riding used to be an elegant pursuit that only the wealthy and refined could afford.
Foxhunting, show jumping and polo were bound by strict codes and rules of behaviour, especially when it came to clothing. The world of equestrian wear is steeped in tradition and individual clothing styles often have long histories. Breeches and jodhpurs were at first considered unsuitable for women, but thanks to some female fashion trailblazers, ladies in riding breeches were completely acceptable by the latter part of the 20th century.
Breeches themselves have evolved in style over the years. Baggy jodhpurs were ideal for playing polo in hot climates, while the invention of stretch fabrics in the 1950s and 1960s allowed breeches to be much more streamlined and tight-fitting.
One thing that hadn’t changed until recently is the conservative nature of most riding clothes. Casual riding has normally involved jeans for western riding and conservatively coloured breeches for English riders. Even the glamourous USA Hunter/Jumper scene has strict rules when it comes to competition wear: white or pale-coloured shirt, beige or tan breeches and black or brown boots.
However, these days the vast majority of horse owners are amateurs who want to enjoy themselves while staying stylish in the schooling ring. Equestrian companies are responding to this shift in demographic by offering more colourful clothing. Even Tailored Sportsmans are now available in tasteful blues, greens and purples and Italian company Sarm Hippique offers breeches with stitching and embellishments. But where do you go to find truly individual fun and colourful equestrian wear that still has the quality of old-world pieces?
All it takes is an idea – one little idea to shake things up and create something amazing. Annie’s Equestrienne is a family company based in Ohio, started by Shannon Klepper and her daughter, Annie. Both Shannon and Annie are lifelong equestrians, and the idea for Annie’s Equestrienne came about from a disagreement familiar to every mother and daughter: what to wear. Shannon wanted quality, classic equestrian wear for her daughter while Annie had her mind set on more fashion-forward designs with bright colours.
“We just couldn’t find a happy medium. The schooling clothing was either a scaled down version of adult clothing, or pieces that were way too cutesy.”
To solve the issue, eight-year-old Annie got out her crayons and sketched some designs to show her mother what she wanted. Shannon was impressed – here was a gap in the market waiting to be filled. ‘Those are really cute!’ said Shannon. ‘Somebody should make these!’ The idea took flight, and Annie’s Equestrienne was launched in January 2014. The company is now an extremely successful boutique business, offering breeches in fresh, fun colours like lavender, currant and even Tardis blue. The colour choices are left up to Annie, who has an impressive eye for colour despite her young age. Vibrant new colours are offered for each seasonal change.
The vitality of this new line epitomizes sweet, spunky, wholesome, horse-adoring youthfulness…synonymous with the little girl who shares the company name.
Initially, Annie’s only made and sold children’s schooling wear. However after several orders were shipped, Shannon began receiving an overwhelming number of requests for adult sizes. Shannon and Annie decided to try out a new ladies line. This proved to be an excellent business decision, as Annie’s Equestrienne now has delighted adult customers all over the world!
Annie’s remains very much a family business. Shannon and Annie are incredibly proud of the fact that they have turned the ideas of a talented eight-year-old into a flourishing company. Part of their secret is a huge emphasis on customer service. Customers are treated like family and product development is focused on fun, fresh styles that simply can’t be found anywhere else. Annie competes regularly on her beloved ponies and Annie’s Equestrienne often has a very popular trade stand at these shows, truly combining business and pleasure. Shannon and Annie also believe in sharing their success and giving back. Annie’s has several successful brand ambassadors and also supports equestrian charity The Rider’s Closet.
Style My Ride is thrilled to have an ongoing collaboration with Annie’s. We love mixing things up in the world of equestrian fashion and challenging traditional concepts. It’s truly a match made in heaven. Keep your eyes peeled for the new range from Annie’s Equestrienne coming in Winter 2015. We can’t wait to see what the girls from Ohio will come up with!
Images courtesy of Shannon Klepper or via the Annie's Equestrienne Facebook page
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