The showjumpers talk us through A·Equipment, their tightly curated, luxe edit of handsome horse and rider gear – without the A-list price tag.
TEXT Anne Ulrikke Bak PHOTOGRAPHY A·Equipment
Many things can be said about the equestrian world but “equipment-poor” isn’t its most characteristic feature. No matter how prosaic the function of an item, you’re always facing what feels like a limitless and at times confusing range of options. In this context it is hard not to be drawn to the newly launched A·Equipment and its tightly edited and curated collection for the discerning rider, dreamt up by top showjumpers Andreas and Christian Schou.
The brothers have cut through the noise and – true to their Danish design heritage – reduced things to a collection of essential, hyper-functional pieces with classically handsome good looks. The vibe: a vintage sports car with state-of-the-art tech features. From breathable, dirt-repelling polo shirts to airflow saddle pads and anatomically-designed old-school bridles, everything is performance-led but firmly set within traditional equestrian heritage. There are striking and surprising details too, like dialling up the glamour on turnout rugs with rose gold-coloured clasps.
And the Schou brothers certainly know their horsey stuff. With enough trophies to fill the walls of their indoor arena they have provided international courses with extraordinary riding skills and outstanding horses since their early pony years. They are collectively ten times Danish and four times Nordic champions, in addition to several rankings in the Nations Cup and international Grand Prix. The family yard and sales stable Absolute Horses in the south of Jutland, Denmark, hosts international CSI two-stars and, since 2010, the Danish national championships. (The midcentury modern-inspired stable, pictured below, is also the perfect example of the family’s excellent taste.)
We caught up with the brothers between shows for a talk about how their latest project came about and why it’s important for them to design a collection without an astronomical price tag.
Why was it important to you to create your own brand?
Throughout the years we’ve often thought about how the different products could be optimised or refined. We’ve always had really strong opinions about how everything should be shaped and designed if it was totally up to us. So getting the opportunity to actually do that in collaboration with Equsana (Danish horse feed brand) was absolutely amazing. What we have done with A·Equipment is add our own touch to the essential products we use every day – all the products that make our job easier. We have often thought ‘it would have been much smarter if the buckle was placed here instead of there’ or ‘why doesn’t the rug have a strap here’. It’s been really great to finally materialise our ideas about the optimal equipment for both riders and horses.
How did you choose which items to include in your collection and what has inspired you aesthetically?
The collection consists of few but carefully selected items. It’s been important to us not to produce just for the sake of producing. We want every item to make sense. The thought has simply been to only offer equipment that we ourselves have felt a need for and would find useful. In our sports stable Absolute Horses we’ve always appreciated a stylish and coherent look. The colour grey has been a recurring theme in our equipment for years and we wanted to retain that. The petroleum colour has been added to provide the look with a bit of an edge and to make it more recognisable.
What is the most important thing to you when selecting pieces? And how have you tested the products?
When selecting equipment our highest priorities have always been quality and functionality. It’s been crucial for us to give our horses the best conditions in order for them to perform at their best. The horses can’t tell us if something doesn’t fit, or if they would like anything to be different. It’s our responsibility to make sure that everything in their environment is as good as possible and that of course includes their equipment. That also means that every single item in our new collection has been tested in our stable so that we’ve been able to make corrections if needed. When it comes to the clothes both of us have worn the men’s collection while riding, whereas Jannike (West, international showjumper and Andreas’ wife) has tested the womenswear. It’s been essential to us to pay close attention to functionality and fabrics and it’s been a huge challenge to convert our ideas and demands into products that work exactly the way we want them to. To begin with we knew very little about how the different materials worked. What we knew was what’s important when you’re doing sports and wearing something for so many hours straight every day. We also aimed for the clothes to be usable for our varied everyday life. Our sport is a lifestyle, which means that we occasionally wear our riding clothes outside the stables. With A·Equipment we’ve done our best to design something versatile, something both practical and sophisticated.
What has been the biggest challenge?
Since most of the good equipment on the market is quite expensive we’ve tried to create something of very high quality but at an affordable price. The goal has been to create a collection for everyone but at the same time exclusive and accessible. In that regard, the biggest challenge has definitely been to find good suppliers able to meet our demands on both quality and price. That’s something we’re still working on.