For many equestrians the journey to the top begins as a working student, as Jenny Erwin can attest.
This classic origin story down the straw covered road doesn’t always lead to 5* Grand Prix on the grass at Aachen, though. For Erwin, it was an indirect route to the glittering runways of Paris Fashion Week. Different stage, same energy.
Her love of horses (namely her own) transcended industries. Seven-years ago, Erwin’s riding apprenticeship inspired her to change course—to equestrian inspired luxury fashion.
“That job was a good indication that I wasn’t in the right field for me. At the end of the day, instead of thinking about how I could improve the riding, I was thinking about how to improve the clothes,” she laughed.
So off to Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) she went, and her equestrian inspired high fashion brand was born. True to form, she named the brand Apacceli, after her horse Apache.
“I chose Apacceli because for me it has its own personality while still savoring my horse,” Erwin said.
Described as Ralph Lauren’s rebellious daughter, Apacceli is more than just bold style. The brand is also sustainable and cruelty free, challenging today’s fast fashion trends. Fittingly, Erwin launched her equestrian inspired line at WEG in 2018.
“I spent two years leading up to that and preparing for it in so many different ways. Then, I had my own medical issues several weeks before WEG, so I had to push myself even more. It was an exhausting but amazing experience,” Erwin said.
One New York minute later and it was 2019 Fashion Week in the city that never sleeps where Erwin showcased a collection.
This year, she debuted her SS2020 collection, inspired by 70s glam, horse racing and old westerns, at Paris Fashion Week.
“Paris was slower paced. Everything was very ornate and intimate and you definitely got a feel for each individual brand. We were in this amazing gorgeous historic salon, and the models walked through a crowd slowly and the people were very close to the designs itself, which I really liked.” Erwin said.
Slow paced until the show closed, that is. Afterwards, it was a race to catch her return flight because COVID-19 was starting to prompt the closures of international borders.
For Erwin, Apacceli has been an exciting ride from the start. Now, during this pandemic pause, we asked her to share some of her style wisdom by helping us build an outfit for our riding closets. In typical designer fashion, she couldn’t choose just one. So, courtesy of our style expert, here is Jenny Erwin’s Riding Look Book:
Casual Daily Riding
Wear what makes you comfortable.
“About ten years ago I found out that Tailored Sportsmans are made for me. I really like the low rise high zip ones, because I like to be comfortable when I’m riding. I prefer the grey or the navy pants. I really dislike tan breeches, which I know is almost like sacrilegious.”
“What I’ve been doing lately is keeping my day to day riding outfits very casual. I like to wear my breeches that I know fit me, and then some kind of graphic t-shirt.”
“With the Volant Front Zip Riding Boots, I’m literally on my third pair. They fit me so perfectly I can buy a new pair and I won’t even have to break them in.”
“The other thing is I like to have a more flexible belt, just because I feel like your waist position changes a lot, and if you have like a rigid belt it can get uncomfortable. So I like the Ovation Women’s Braided Stretch Belt.”
“These days I’ve been pairing it with one of my Apacceli silk scarves because I’ve done some research on how natural silk is a good defense layer against COVID. I thought, okay, this can look intentional and fashionable. It’s not an awkwardly placed neck gater, and I can just pull it over my mouth and nose if I’m around somebody.”
Who said edgy and sleek can’t be comfortable and practical too?
“So this Von Holzhausen Metal Belt is a bit of a newer brand. It looks like leather, it feels like leather, but it’s not. It’s all vegan and cruelty free. I think this gunmetal shade metal on the front is really pretty because when you’re riding and your show jacket flutters open a little bit you get a hint of that. It’s also very sleek.”
“This is the Apacceli Waverly Knit. I probably wear that the most out of all of my clothes because it’s really easy, oversized and comfortable, but also has beautiful hand embroidered chains so it’s really really nice to throw over stuff and say ‘okay, I’ve made an effort here.’ The best part is it fits over my helmet.”
Saturday Night Lights
Dreaming of these nights in the COVID-free-future…
“Styling an evening Grand Prix look is such a balance because you’re like okay, I want to look good, this is an event and I’m going out. At the same time, you’re going to be around horses and don’t want to be ridiculous with your choices.”
“I really love this Apacceli Celeste Top. It’s made of a stretch silk charmeuse, so you can configure it around your body in a bunch of different ways to make a flattering, off-the-shoulder draped look. Similar to my sweater, I like that when you put this on it looks like you made an effort but it’s actually very comfortable and easy. That tends to be what I’m going for.”
“I chose a mid rise jean and the grey/nude ankle strap sandals just because I feel like the top is eye catching, so I want to be a little bit more subdued with the rest of the outfit. I also just like to have a chunkier heal if I’m going to wear a heel around horses because you never know when that pavement is going to turn into gravel or sand.”
“I chose this light pink Kate Spade Bag. I think if you do something tonal it will look a lot more sophisticated than if you’re trying to perfectly match everything. Especially since picking from our own closets, probably every item is from a different brand so you’re never going to get a perfect match. That would drive someone crazy.”