She’s the woman behind one of the most iconic high-vis clothing brands on the market, Equisafety. From technical fabrics to superstar collaborators, we asked Nicky Fletcher anything and everything
A design expert and true horsewoman, Nicky Fletcher noticed gap in the equestrian market. This left equestrians without high-vis clothing that catered just for them, so she went on to launch Equisafety in 1999. Featuring LED tailguards, gilets and the hugely popular POLITE range, Equisafety has become a household name and a wardrobe staple for riders worldwide. We were lucky enough to spend 10 minutes with Nicky talking horses, fashion, Carl Hester and more.
Tell us about yourself and your equestrian background.
I’m a very creative person, who grew up in the Lake District. As well as being a keen gardener and lover of competitive flower arranging, I’ve been riding since I was four. I backed my horse, Oscar, myself and we’re now competing in Medium dressage, which is a great achievement since I only get chance to ride two or three times a week.
What made you choose to be an equestrian fashion designer?
I’m an outdoorsy person and equestrian fashion design came naturally to me at university. I’d wanted to do a performance fashion range for the equestrian market, but my career took me to high vis. There was such a massive hole in this area that I knew I had to do something about, and I’ve certainly not regretted it.
How do you stay up to date with fashion trends and new technical materials?
I have a Masters Degree in Performance Sportswear Design and Technological Fabrics, so I’m a real trainspotter when it comes to fabrics. I can spot quality and functionality and can hand on heart say that Equisaftey’s is the best quality range on the market. I always look at Vogue’s Couture Collections for inspiration – I love looking at future trends and seeing how they could influence new ranges.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
NF: Having the freedom to do absolutely anything I want. I hate being told what to do and wouldn’t last a week if I worked for anyone else.
I’ve got a huge amount of drive and passion for creating new ideas, and I’m very lucky to have a job that I love. I’m incredibly proud of what I’ve achieved from nothing, but it’s all down to me bloody-minded, driven and able to thrive under pressure.
Equisafety has produced lines with Charlotte Dujardin and most recently Carl Hester. How was Carl to work with and what was his vision for the new line?
NF: I’ve wanted to manufacture a high-end equestrian range for 18 years, and Carl Hester has given me the chance. He was very hands on with the design and is very excited at the prospect of his own clothing range. He gave me lots of his time for meetings in his kitchen at over lunch times. Thankfully, there was plenty of space to work with – he’s got a huge kitchen table that I’d litter with fabric swatches and paper designs, sometimes spilling onto the chairs and floor. I’m not the tidiest designer!
There were certain elements he hand-picked, for example micro cuffs with thumb holes, soft collar linings and fitted shapes. He’s also looking forward to helping me design the spring/summer range, inspired by the Olympics.
Which piece is Carl’s favourite?
The black and white Vincenzo quilted jacket. It’s a very unusual design and fitted, which he loves – you might catch him warming up in it at shows in future.
Do you have any future products, or plans in the pipeline that you can tell us about?
Carl Hester and myself are in talks about the future of his range and we have a 3-year plan that we’re working on at the moment. I’d also love to design performance riding tights that reduce muscle fatigue, plus I’ve got tons of other designs in my head!
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
My dad always taught me to aim for the top of the mountain and if you get three quarters of the way up, you’ve done well. I never stop looking forward and am grateful for the setbacks that have helped me develop over the years. I can’t wait to see where I will be in five years’ time.