Today athleisure wear is more and more common, and the Covid-19 pandemic has definitely made sweatpants a staple. Athleisure is the contraction of ‘athletic’ and ‘leisure’ referring to athletic clothing that we can wear in non-athletic settings. Essentially, an excuse to be comfortable in leggings and sneakers outside our home and the gym. The combination of comfort, functionality, and style reignited sportswear in fashion. However, before there were yoga pants, TikTok leggings, and Yeezy’s there was equestrian fashion.
Horse riding as a sport and way of life has a long history, with its significance varying across cultures. In European culture, horse riding has been associated with a posh lifestyle only accessible to a few. More recently, horse riding has become increasingly more accessible as a sport. Equestrian fashion is the original athleisure wear designed for flexibility, comfort, and style. Equestrian fashion perhaps was never truly considered athleisure due to the reluctance of many to see horse riding as a sport. To many onlookers, the rider appears to be a passive passenger while the horse does all the hard work, obscuring how physically demanding the sport is.
Equestrian fashion has also perhaps not been considered athleisure wear because the sweat and general stable smell after having ridden a horse do not exactly make for a lovely brunch. Despite this aspect of the sport, equestrian fashion has gradually made its way into high streetwear.
Traditional horse-riding clothing usually includes jodhpurs or breeches, (trousers intended for horse riding, boots, and a helmet for safety. These elements have been taken and readapted for the perfect blend of performance, comfort, and style. More recently, it has become synonymous with classic and timeless looks. Equestrianism has been associated with the upper classes due to the cost of riding gear and maintaining a horse, associating a kind of traditional romanticism to the looks. Today, riding gear is easily accessible from big department sport stores such as Decathlon. For those truly seeking to uphold the principles of athleisure wear, pairing white trousers, a blazer, and tall boots will give you that equestrian despite being far away from any stable.
Today not only are styles inspired by sport, and horse riding in particular, but entire brands have based their image based on horse riding. Today, Hermés is known for its Birkin bags and silk scarves, but the brand started out making harnesses and bridles for 17th-century European aristocracy. The brand’s product still evokes its equestrian heritage through its seasonal lines of scarves, bags, and watches recalling shapes and images of stirrups, saddles, and horses.
Another well-known brand is Ralph Lauren, whose own logo has the trademarked horse design. Equestrian style is a common denominator in all collections ranging from jewellery, watches to classic polo shirts. From his classic polo shirts to the Ricky bag inspired by saddle carriers the equestrian aesthetic has always been present. Ralph Lauren’s contribution to equestrian style has been significant, his collections immediately evoking the elegance and posh lifestyle of polo riders. Ralph Lauren’s Polo Western denim brand drew upon a different sort of equestrian fashion, that of the American cowboy. The line has vintage leather vests, denim shirts, and cowboy boots evoking the wild elegance associated with Western-style riding.
Brands today are heavily inspired by sport, making athleisure wear a trendy aesthetic. Equestrian fashion in Europe as the original form of athleisure wear not only is easy to achieve with a few wardrobe basics but also offers a combination of comfort and style for a timeless look perfect for any occasion.