The Horse Rider's Journal

Mulberry’s creative director Johnny Coca charts his equestrian inspirations for AW17

Mulberry's AW17 moodboard

Rosette bag charms, reworked hunting habits and quilted horse rugs as capes: a closer look at the mega Sloane Ranger vibes at Mulberry.

TEXT Susanne Madsen PHOTOGRAPHY Mulberry

Like skateboarders, equestrian types can get a bit funny about fashion borrowing from their look. (Which is completely understandable if we’re talking those weird boots with faux spurs attached.) But when fashion gets it right – subtle references, a cool riff on an equestrian silhouette, a hyper-elevated or deliberately extreme piece of riding gear – it really, really works. And when we turned up at Mulberry’s Kensington Church Street headquarters for a preview of the AW17 collection last week and saw creative director Johnny Coca and Mulberry’s stylist Lotta Volkova inspecting a model wearing a Tattersall shirt with a big bow (very Princess Diana in her Sloane Ranger best), we knew this was going to be quite good.


“There’s something very sophisticated about [the equestrian aesthetic], something very crafty and sellier,” says Johnny Coca, who dreamt up a richly layered homage to the British aristocracy’s countryside pursuits for Mulberry’s AW17 collection, which was shown on Sunday during London Fashion Week. As the above moodboard illustrates, the designer had been looking at our number one pony obsessive HM Queen Elizabeth II, 1920’s polo girls and hunt riders, and Newmarket-like stripes. All these old films, you see how they’re so sophisticated,” he said of his starting point for the collection. “All this tailoring and they look so posh. But it’s how to make [that] cool.”

Mission succeeded. In Coca’s hands, these references – slightly twisted and deconstructed – became something very much for now. Getting fully immersed in his equestrian research, he had borrowed a hunting jacket to study up close from Mulberry’s Group PR & Events Director Vanessa Lunt, a keen horsewoman who spends most of her weekends out with her local hunt. And Mulberry, of course, are no strangers to equestrian circles, having recently struck up a partnership with British showjumper Tess Carmichael. Here, Johnny Coca breaks down the equestrian inspirations behind the collection.


“The stripe around the bag is inspired by the stripes on rugs and saddle pads,” Coca said, adding that equestrian gear is perfect for playing with contrasts and saddle stitches. Another bag had a plaited silk scarf strap, an idea lifted from neatly plaited tails.



“All the quilting was inspired by quilted horse rugs,” Coca explained of his folded capes and swathing floral silhouettes, lifted from seventies and eighties Mulberry Home wallpaper prints. (Side note: we’d quite like to see a quilted rug comeback for our horses’ wardrobes.)



“You know those ribbons you win in dressage?” Coca asked. Well, meet your new favourite bag charm, seen here on the Amberley mini bag, a sleek, modern take on a saddlebag. It’s a winner, obviously.

Mulberry Look7


We all know the importance of a well-fitted curb chain. Here’s one to show you how it’s done.


“The cut of the side-saddle skirt and jacket,” Coca said of how the oversize silhouette had evolved, noting that 1920s hunting gear had also been on his mind.


For more from Mulberry’s AW17 collection, please visit