Bonjour! From Behind-The-Seams: “Classic in the show ring, yet fabulous out on the town” describes Cheval Fashions’ beautifully handmade equestrian riding shirts. From handmade twills, toiles and tuxedo-inspired designs; from London plaids and preppy piping, Cheval (stemming from the French word meaning “horse) riding shirts are showstoppers in and out of the show ring. The horse show trends for 2013 are being led by some of the hottest new riding attire from this French-inspired riding brand.
The Riding Life
Jennifer Hurlbut founded her fashionable equestrian apparel line Cheval Fashions (pronounced SHəˈval) in 2010. An equestrian who grew up riding and showed horses until she went off to college, Hurlbut took a two-decade hiatus from the horse world after earning her degree.
But after a visit with a friend’s horse near her home just outside of Toronto, Hurlbut was reminded of how much she missed riding and being around the barn after that visit, which her seven year old daughter Sophie had accompanied her on, Hurlbut found herself immersed once again in all things horse. Soon, Sophie was learning how to ride, and Hurlbut herself started to ride and show again.
“We all love the tradition of riding and the life that goes along with it,” she explains.
Many of Hurlbut’s great ideas and designs came to her while she was riding or hacking her horse around the ring at the horse show.
“One day while I was at a horse show, my husband was having a hard time differentiating me from the other riders and said, ‘you all look identical!’” Hurlbut recalls. “So, that was the eye opener that gave me the idea to create a more fashionable apparel line.”
This hunter/jumper fashionista has been in brand marketing for over 20 years, and some of her full-time experience includes working for large companies such as Kellogg and Hershey. “I had all the grounding to have my own business between the background and marketing, so it all sparked from there,” Hurlbut adds.
An Eye For Style
Each piece is hand designed and manufactured just minutes away from Hurlbut’s home in Canada. “It’s so fun designing, and it’s such a selfish pursuit, because you do whatever you like! It’s so much fun being able to do what I want.”
Hurlbut has always had an eye for style and carefully watches trends in mainstream fashion magazines; a favorite is the classic standby Vogue. Many of her inspirations stem from eyeing riders such as Charlott Casiraghi who are muses for high-end fashion brands such as Gucci.
Each Cheval riding shirt is designed with a feminine cut and fine detailing. Roll up sleeve tabs and pearly snaps on cuffs are just a few of the fine details. “It’s simply a real balance between the classicism of traditional riding apparel with a new fashionable flair,” explains Hurlbut.
Hurlbut’s daughter Sophie, now 12, is very interested and involved with the design process behind Cheval Fashions. In fact, she made some of the major decisions for the Cheval Fashions children’s show shirt, such as picking out the exact flower-buttons.
Feminine and French Influence
The White Twill/ Cerise Toile shirt is feminine and flattering with a beautiful equestrian French toile print inside the collar and underneath the cuffs. The body of the shirt has a longer design so that it can fit taller riders and stay tucked in, especially when riding in the jumper ring.
Belt it Up
Is there anything worse than trying to finagle your belt correctly in your side-zip show breeches when you are rushing to the bathroom before your next course at the horse show? I think most of us can relate to one of these ever so dreaded “#horseshowproblems”. Well, Cheval Fashions noticed this problem and created a beautiful side-snap leather belt that is stylish, fun, and matches the colored printed shirts. Not only do these Italian leather belts snap on the side, but they also buckle in the front with a hammered silver buckle.
“I like to think of the line as fashion-focused & fabulous,” explains Hurlbut.
That it is. From its belts to shirts, Cheval’s balance between function and fashion fits in, and stands out, in the show ring and a night out on the town.
-By Ashley Cline
This article appeared in the February/March 2013 issue of Horse & Style Magazine. Want to read more? Go here to view the entire issue for free!