A Dream Come True
Nicky Fletcher, M.D of Equisafety Ltd, tells us about working with and designing for Carl Hester MBE.
“The idea for the Carl Hester Collection initially began because I was working with Charlotte Dujardin CBE producing new and innovative products that captured the markets’ appetite for high quality equestrian high vis. Carl approached me to discuss a possible waistcoat design for the staff because, when they left the yard, he wanted them to look smart.
And after finalizing the design, Carl decided that he liked the idea of selling this waistcoat on his web site. However, the more we worked with each other the more we realized that we could bring out a brand new range that was a fashionable, functional, performance range that was extremely high quality.
I have always believed that there was a gap in the market for very high quality equestrian clothing that was at affordable prices.
There are ranges out there that are very expensive and use fabrics that don’t match the quality. My background is a Degree in Fashion and Masters Degree in Performance Sports Wear and Technological Fabrics. Some companies state that their garment is ‘technical’, but it seems to be a marketing tool rather than being about the actual quality of the product.
Did you realise that many companies don’t actually properly design their products. They look at what their factories have available, tweak a few details and put them on the market as their own. But that is not designing.
Design begins with a brand new idea or concept. An original design is very difficult to come up with, anyone can copy and tweak and sadly many have done that with Equisafety products over the years. I find this very annoying as it shows a lack of talent and damages the equestrian market as it does not encourage growth and new ideas.
So you have a new idea? How do you get it from just being an idea to becoming an actual product to sell. The most important part about design is - will it sell? Is the chosen market ready for this new design? It’s all very well designing and manufacturing the best garments ever but if the market doesn’t want them, then you have lost tens of thousands of pounds. So you have to understand your market and know it inside out.
One of Carl’s little irritations was that he found the outdoor equestrian market very frustrating as the garments available for men were always bulky. Why do men’s clothing always have to be big fitting he asked me? He wanted a range that was just as fitted as a woman’s range. There are so many athletic shaped male riders in our wonderful sport who think the same as Carl. For example our other sponsored rider Simon Grieve loves this new range because it is fitted.
Carl and I began designing the range with a ‘Mood Board’ that showed lots of different garments, colours and styles and I asked him what he would want in a capsule range. He chose a waterproof jacket, quilted jacket and quilted gilet in two different colour-ways. Green and Black was chosen because green is one of Carl’s favourite colours and White and Black because he wanted to wear the range at competitions.
Looking smart is important for Carl and when he is at competitions he looks fantastic in his Black and White range when wearing his white jodhpurs and long, black polished boots.
Next we looked at what he wanted in this brand new exclusive range ~ Fit, Performance, Colour and Style were the most important parts of the collection.
I then went off and started investigating the market’s wants and needs. I get a lot of my inspiration from Couture shows. These crazy styles have beautiful lines and inspire me in designing a whole new look.
I’m a real train spotter when it comes to performance technical fabrics but I’m not the tidiest designer and when Carl and myself had meetings it was always in his beautiful kitchen. Thankfully he has a large wooden kitchen table as I would have fabric swatches, paper designs all over it, on the floor, on the chairs everywhere! It looked like my suit case had exploded in his kitchen.
Carl was surprisingly very hands on with the design and he gave me lots of his time. There were certain things that he wanted in the range, for example micro cuffs with thumb holes, soft lining in the collar, large Carl Hester Collection logo in the lining, fitted shape, and a unique design that stands out head and shoulders above the rest.
We are both very proud of this exclusive fashion collection and look forward to seeing people wearing it. A new collection is always a scary thing to do, but once people see the quality of the garments in the shops, I am very confident they will fly out.
Carl and I are already working on the new Spring Summer 2020 range which will be inspired by the Olympics. This range will include Polo Shirts, lightweight jackets, gilets etc.
I’ve designed unique items for Equisafety for 19 years, which has been great fun, but my dream has always been to design a high quality equestrian performance range and I completed my final project in my Masters on equestrian performance clothing.
I think Charlotte Dujardin said it best when we were having a coffee in the tack room recently……… “I’m the Queen of High Vis Safety and Carl is Nicky’s dream come true”. It really is a dream come true to finally design an equestrian performance, fashion collection and working with Carl just made it extra special.”