Company Profile: Annie's Equestrienne

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.