Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Someone Call 911 And Ask For The Eventing Fashionistas

A Crime Of Fashion | Top Hat, Tails & Cheap Plastic Bib!
I've just been looking at this fabulous new piece of technology that's making the headlines at the moment, the Point 2 Air Jacket, which got me thinking about the fashion blunders in eventing. This great sport of ours is full of fashion trends, and no end of rules about what you can wear , what colours your breeches need to be, the colour of your hat, your jacket, and even your boots. Then we go and commit the ultimate fashion crime by sticking a dirty great big piece of A4 paper with number over the top! What's all that about?

I know there are plenty of practical reasons we have these bibs, particularly at the one day events, and in the cross country phase, but I can't believe, in this age of technology we can't find a way round this out dated and totally ridiculous accessory.

As you can see from the picture above there is also a 'commercial' opportunity in these cheap plastic bibs as part of sponsorship packages. Now, I know from previous experience that branding on bibs is not the make or break point of sponsorship deals. I don't think you'd ever see pictures from the dressage of Badminton or Burghley in the national press if these bibs were used, it just looks too ugly.

So Much Effort To Look Good | Spoilt!
What makes this all the more ridiculous for me, is the amount of time and effort that goes into 'shminking' both horse and rider in the Trot-Up. Just take a look at pictures from the trot up at Badminton or Burghley for example, and hours that are invested in preening. Horses are given lots of tiny, neat, perfectly spaced plaits, and then quarter marked with elaborate designs. Female riders deliberate days in advance about their 'trot-up' outfits, is it Chanel, Gucci or Karen Millen....Then when they eventually sit on the horse in cleaned, pressed, polished and steamed, top hat, tails and sparkly white jods, they stick a cheap plastic bib with a piece of photocopier paper on top. Again, How Ridiculous!

So what's the answer? Well, here what I think we should do. Ditch the bibs altogether. Each rider & horse has a unique Eventing Number, we should drop the running order number displayed in the bib for one or both of these unique numbered displayed on the saddle cloth and the riders' back, a bit like a football shirt. Incidently, Zara Phillips has recently launched a clothing brand around her FEI number.

The popularity of these Air Jackets, which already come in a range of colours, I'm sure will lead to prices dropping and the ability to have them made in custom designs, it wouldn't be a huge leap in the manufacturing process, and this along with ditching the bibs will allow riders to truly build merchandising and branding opportunities, as the cross country shirt is the most purchased fashion item at 3 day event tradestands.

By the way, you really must buy one of these Air Jackets, they really have proved their worth, and I'll be putting it on my Essentials list, even though I've yet to buy one - perhaps they'll sponsor me, and save me the cash!

Fashion & Safety in one post, who'd thought it possible?

Be Safe & Look Good  (and recycle your bib in protest!)


  1. I'm interested to see how the GPS tracking system will work for the endurance riders at WEG in a couple of weeks time. The riders will carry devices the size of a computer mouse in their hip pockets which will enable officials and spectators to monitor their progress on big screens dotted around the Horse Park. They will be represented by their country's flag, and I imagine it will look rather like old fashioned Pac-Man. Is this something that could be adapted for cross country? Or even keeping tabs on young children?

  2. I agree, it's a very interesting application of technology, and should look quite cool. There are already plenty of GPS solutions for tracking your children or pets, and you can even use an iPhone to do the same.