Critiques

Equestrian Is the New Ski in the World Of Sporty Luxury

Luxury track suits? Designer ski pants? Dear reader, those are so 2017. One of our brilliant friends, founder of the obscenely chic luxury brand F.WORDS, has turned us on to the latest and most inspired way to embody both luxurious and sporty style: equestrian chic. An added benefit? On or off a horse, your rear view will receive nearly as much acclaim as Kim Kardashian’s. If you care about such things.

You’ll probably recall a prior post in which we introduced you to a new luxury fashion performance apparel brand: F.WORDS. Based in Manhattan and led by creative dynamo and business leader badass Kendel Neidermyer, the company’s name is both clever and highly relevant. It’s a promise to deliver simultaneously on four elements that are too often missing from workout and wear-all-day clothes: fit, fashion, function and flexibility.

The company’s business model is fit-for-purpose for today’s demanding luxury consumer: it’s sold primarily through direct to consumer e-commerce and trunk shows curated by sales ambassadors who can thoroughly explain the line’s proprietary features and benefits because they’re loyal fans of the brand themselves. The trunk shows offer the added benefit of interaction and learning directly from the consumer herself, which has allowed F.WORDS to continue to innovate and launch new products that meet unmet client needs.

Items sold in these direct channels are made to order in the brand’s “lab” factory in New York, an atelier in the garment district that also produces for The Row, Monse and Oscar De La Renta.  (it’s manager is a woman named Sun who is as much of a perfectionist as F.WORDS CEO Kendel herself).

Increasingly, the line is also sold through specialty retail stores in affluent and resort locations throughout the US.

F.WORDS focused initially on delivering the Holy Grail of Fashion: leggings that make you (and your derriere) look amazing. Done and done: the brand’s comfortable compression fit and the use of high tech fabrics resulted in black leggings suitable for the street, the yoga studio, or the slopes.

The young company is celebrating its 1st anniversary this month, and the brand has grown substantially since its launch. Why? It’s not just the magic leggings – although those are definitely a part of the story.

Turns out there are some new f-words in the house: words like filly, and fox hunting.

The brilliant Kendel has clued into something new in the air. The world is suddenly full of gym-inspired, yoga-ready, snow-bunny-evoking luxury apparel. But isn’t horse-racing the sport of kings? Aren’t Ascot and the Kentucky Derby reliable gathering spots for the global elite? And don’t people always look refined and elegant when dressed for equine pursuits? Who can forget Princess Diana, and the way she rocked riding breeches?

Photo courtesy of F.WORDS

 

So why aren’t there more options to look fresh from the stables or the steeplechase available all the time for the rest of us? We may not hang out in Virginia’s horse country, or the English countryside, or Aspen, or even in the precincts of chic Bedford, New York. But we want to look as if we did. Is that so wrong?

The time has come for performance-ready equestrian apparel that can double (or triple) as street wear, out-to-lunch attire, and (dare we say it) cocktail party clothes.

Who can deliver this dream, you ask? Why, our friends at F.WORDS.

A quick word on terminology: Jodhpurs are pants that are close-fitting only below the knee, with reinforced patches on the inside of the leg and a very relaxed fit through the hip and thigh. Breeches are form-fitting from the waist down – when used for riding, they come in separate pieces for each leg. Both are used for both control, compression and comfort – which is pretty well the perfect description of what we want from our leggings. It’s the breeches silhouette that F.WORDS is focused on.

Balmoral Traci and Carleton Brooks Photo Courtesy of F.WORDS

 

Sure, there are brands that make luxurious riding gear today, like Cavalleria Toscana – they’re almost all based in Europe, and are generally all about performance in the saddle: F.WORDS is forging new ground in the space by adding fashion and flexibility to the garments.

As with the brand’s ski pants and leggings, the focus is on fabric, fit and construction. Kendel describes the products as perfect for both women who actually ride, and for “pony moms” who love the equestrian lifestyle. They’re for anyone who wants to look fit and trim, if you ask us.

Bottoms are half of the line, and half of the story: there are also tops and jackets available. Which means that we can wear F.WORDS items to barre class, Pilates, on our next plane ride, or – properly accessorized – on our next big social night out.

After all, as we learned from Kendel, the requirements to look chic in the show ring – “the show look” — are not dissimilar from the required attire at many other dressy affairs: crisp white shirts, tailored black or grey jackets, and the aforementioned breeches. Perhaps not surprisingly, that’s resulted in an F.WORDS client base that runs the gamut from ages 13-84. Like we said, it’s for all of us.

Balmoral Traci and Carleton Brooks Photo Courtesy of F.WORDS

 

So where can you find them? F.WORDS currently has select retail distribution in Manhattan, Greenwich, Nantucket, Palm Beach, Los Angeles, and Palo Alto, with more on the way next month. For example, in New York, you’ll find the brand at Manhattan Saddlery, a tack shop on the historic “Saddlery Row” near Madison Square Park. In Silicon Valley, head to Ella Palo Alto, the “equestrian Bergdorf’s,” where you’ll find a highly edited and refined selection of riding gear, fine art and home furnishings.

When asked if she would do anything differently after one year, Kendel gave us a resounding no.  But if she had a chance to go back and offer her younger self advice, it would be to worry less, trust herself more and enjoy the journey “because you are only a start-up once.”

To other aspiring entrepreneurs pursuing their dreams, she has these words: always ask questions, stay nimble and focused and to never take no for an answer (though you will likely hear that word a lot).  The company is based on f-words, but Kendel also lives by three p-words:  patience, positivity and perseverance. Amen to that!

We promised Kendel that we’d give the F.WORDS team a shout-out. So in addition to the founder and CEO, we’re sending kudos and happy birthday wishes to Executive Chairman Bob Daughton, Carol Sweitzer and Jackie Vignone on the Board of Advisors, and curators Kelsey Naughright and Lori Marcus.

Nice job, guys. We can’t wait to see what you do next!

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