At the same time porous and waterproof, fashion loves to draw inspiration from all walks of life to best assert its exclusivity. Among his favorite playgrounds is horseback riding, a sport that is already quite exclusive, as it requires access to horses, a large plot of land, as well as a lot of quickly expensive equipment.
The history of horse riding, from a utilitarian and warrior activity to an aristocratic leisure imitated by fashion
Historically, horse riding has long had a purely utilitarian (to get around) or warrior function, from the domestication of the horse during antiquity to the democratization of sporting practices as recreational activities starting from the 20th century.
Since riding accessories require a lot of know-how to protect without hindering or injuring the animal or the person who rides it, and this in noble materials such as leather and metalwork, it is therefore also a space to show what we are capable of as a brand.
To accompany the horse fever of the classes wealthy enough to indulge in this type of pastime, creators began to draw inspiration from horse riding to better sell products to their followers, while saddlers began to diversify to better support their customers.
And that’s how we end up with such a house Hermès goes from selling saddles to a major luxury player!
This also partly explains why the codes of horse riding are the basis of the aesthetics of several houses.
For example, Gabrielle Chanel draws a lot of inspiration from horse hunters and his lover-friends like Etienne Balsan (a wealthy officer who left the army to devote himself to horse breeding and racing) or Arthur “Boy” Capel (businessman who owns a polo stable).
It’s because she herself starts wearing not clothes from Amazon, but polo shirt and jodhpur trousers (riding breeches imported from India by English officers, tight from knee to ankle and worn without boots), that his effortless style stood out, got noticed, and that he then marketed it successfully.
On the side of the house GucciIt was while working as a bellhop at the Savoy Hotel in London that Guccio Gucci saw wealthy customers riding horseback riding by all day.
Inspired by their clothes and accessories, he drew from them the future distinctive details of the house, such as the famous horse bit that adorns his moccasins and his cult bags.
In addition to the equestrian inspiration to really equip or simply emulate the lifestyle of the ruling classes as at Ralph Lauren in a more ranch version on the other side of the Atlantic, this world of leather and whip can also inspire another aspect that fashion loves exploit: bondage!
In a more BDSM key, harnesses exploit this universe in a completely different way – not in its preppy dimension, but in what it can tell about discipline, training, domination and mastery of suffering.
Move away from classroom performance to focus on people
Today, horse riding still appeals to younger generations, both in its preppy and more BDSM dimensions. But it is with a more naturalistic painting style, cool on a ranch, that today is successful on TikTok, Instagram and others, with keywords like Horse Girl Energy!
A way to step away (a little) from classroom performance to focus on people?
Bella Hadid multiplies her Instagram photos with her horses (an exceptional rider, she should have also participated in the Rio 2016 Olympics, but Lyme disease prevented her from doing so) while Beyoncé wears the Boys cowboy style for his Ivy Park Rodéo collection with adidas.
Which reminds us that in the United States the horse has long been the third most common domestic animal – after dogs and cats – and that between two cavalcades of aristocrats, it is also the proles who “occupy” them. That the love for horses is also part of everyday life, and not only during major competitions where seeing sporting performances is as important as being seen.
Even on the luxury side, the trend is salient: the bride who closed Chanel’s Spring 2021 haute couture show arrived on the catwalk accompanied by a horse, while the Céline house actually hired heavy cavalry for its autumn-winter show 2021-2022.
To celebrate its hundred years of existence, Gucci presented in April 2021 a collection that returns to the equestrian inspirations of its origins. Without forgetting the Saddle bag by Dior whose lines are clearly inspired by the saddle of a horse, as the name suggests.
So we may not be able to afford daily riding lessons, but if you want to try chaps, riding boots, or even cowboy boots, now is definitely the time to ride this timeless trend that says so much about classy relationships!
Photo credit: Bella Hadid Instagram, Beyoncé Instagram and Chanel Spring 2021 Haute Couture Show
Mary Crossley is an author at “The Fashion Vibes”. She is a seasoned journalist who is dedicated to delivering the latest news to her readers. With a keen sense of what’s important, Mary covers a wide range of topics, from politics to lifestyle and everything in between.