This afternoon some of the world’s finest riders and equine athletes were given their first inspection at the Mitsubushi Motors Badminton Horse Trials. But it wasn’t just the horses that were being inspected.
For the past few years riders have been noted for their own appearance, what they wear and how they carry off ‘civvy style’, away from jackets, boots and breeches.
This surge in popularity has marked the start of a ‘new’ eventing. The next generation of 20- something event riders with a passion for their sport and the will to promote what they do to the world. But this year it seemed that some of the more ‘mature’ riders were getting in on the action.
Normally we would be focussing on women’s wear but this year the peacocks were most definitely the
men. Even a week before Paul Tapner was posting on Twitter suggesting that his outfit, supplied by Timothy Foxx, would hands down upgrade the always dapper Ben Hobday. Many ‘walk off’ and ‘Zoolander’ jokes followed but it was great to see Timothy Foxx making quite a statement with a preppy tweed style look. By this point Twitter was on fire and the EWW teams phones buzzed with incoming messages of support. Tapperz you pulled it off!
As expected Frances Whittington looked classically British as he did in Kentucky (the best dressed at this event in my opinion). He works a suit well and has a definitive ‘Frances’ style which is conservative but always dashing. Good menswear is effortless and this look had this air.
Trot ups can’t be reported upon without some mention of Mr Cool himself, Ben Hobday. One of the eventing’s style leaders, with a massive social media following across many platforms it wasn’t long before we once again had phones buzzing with throngs of (female) supporters favouriting and re-tweeting ours and each other’s Ben centric comments. In his trademark (Uvex) shades and jacket he, like Frances, has a personal style and wears it with confidence.
So I was left wondering is ‘rider styling’ a development that we will see more of? It seems like brands are keen to support riders and get their clothing seen in public, to an international audience. The use of social media means images can be shared globally in seconds and brands advertised to a considerably wide audience. Clothing sponsorship is most definitely the new black!
After the inspection I caught up with designer Annabel Brocks who supported NZ rider Caroline Powell, by providing her with some of her luxurious faux fur and tweed accessories.
‘I was delighted to see one of my Autumn and beige head warmers being worn by Caroline Powell. It also demonstrated that they are great for keeping hair tamed in windy weather conditions! As a new designer to see my work worn on such a high profile rider at Badminton is a dream come true. I think it’s really important for the riders to dress to impress, horses are always turned out immaculately and when riders are too it just makes all the difference. With so much press attention since Kentucky about who has the best outfit the bar has been raised. The Trot up is such an important part of these prestigious three day events and we can’t wait to be part of it and look forward to seeing our new collection becoming a firm favourite with eventers in the future.’ said Belle, the MD of Annabel Brocks.
It was clear that emerging luxury British footwear brand Fairfax and Favor was also the female rider’s choice for functional boots that would also add splashes of colour and texture to an outfit. More than three riders were spotted wearing their popular boots, with matching or contrasting tassels. With a luxury product and images beamed across social media, it will be interesting to see how this brand grows in popularity.
This year, as expected, there was an abundance of tweed, fur and neat tailoring for ladies. Those braving the elements with fascinators deserved gold stars, some serious hair gipping must have gone on behind the scenes. Once again the fitted trousers, boots and neat jackets with a feature belt worked well. Many could say playing it safe but with a great eventers physique and a fresh event horse at peak fitness to hold onto who needs frills?
With ERA International campaigning to ensure Eventing continues to grow in terms of its public image, popularity as a spectator sport and associated sponsorship it appears that ‘trot up’ fashion is a useful tool to promote awareness. Although the first inspection is all about the horses if the riders can use the ‘parade’ to develop their public images then it is a great development for the sport.
It will be interesting to see what is ‘on show’ at the second inspection…