BY LAUREN MAULDIN
Street clothing designs mimic equestrian style season after season for a reason—we’re a fashionable group. But what do riders need in their apparel? Clothes have to be comfortable, durable for long days at the barn. The most brilliant shirt doesn’t mean anything to a trainer if it’s snagged by the time she hops on her third horse. However, just because we need our clothes to withstand the test of the barn doesn’t mean we’re willing to sacrifice on design.
Hunter/jumper riders in particular have a third element we want in our apparel—a look that compliments, versus clashes, with our horse. We love classic style, subtle colors and fashion reminiscent of the roots of our sport. Arista Equestrian, with their stylish schooling tops, show apparel and outerwear hits all these requirements for the discerning rider.
For Arista’s owner, Jocelyn Kivort, it all started with a vest. She had lost her favorite one, an Arista vest her sister gave her as a gift, and visited the website to search for a replacement. Seeing the complete product line for the first time, Jocelyn was blown away by the quality and options the maker of her favorite vest had to offer. “In that moment, I decided to start a business offering the entire Arista Equestrian product line to riders. It was that quick,” she said of the decision to get behind a brand she knew had something special.
For years, Jocelyn carried Arista through her retail shop, In The Stirrup, and became the leading Arista Equestrian retailer in North America within two years. “The line has superior fabrics, exquisite tailoring and updated, yet classic, sensibility. I married the products with top-notch customer service for a truly satisfying shopping experience for each and every client.” As more and more customers discovered Arista through In The Stirrup, Jocelyn decided to take advantage of an opportunity to acquire the company. In 2017, she truly put her passion behind the product and became the owner of Arista Equestrian. She’s been putting everything into the apparel company ever since.
Buying your favorite clothing brand might seem like a jump for some people, but Jocelyn’s background perfectly primed her for such a move. She began riding hunters as an adult when she moved from crowded cities without easy access to horses to Albany, New York. Having always had an affinity for horses, once she finally found her way to the barn she couldn’t stop. “It has been over twenty years now! I can hardly believe it,” she said.
Her experience isn’t limited to the barn. Jocelyn’s background in fashion working for Ann Taylor gave her insight to many different up and coming brands. “I had the opportunity to see some amazing fashion and how the smallest details and the very best elements created fabulous pieces,” she said. The experience gave her invaluable time with a wide variety of clients, from high-power women in business to tourists coming in for a particular look.
Today with Arista, she blends this experience to best serve her customers. Jocelyn is the ideal captain for the Arista brand because she knows exactly what riders need. “Riding apparel needs to flex with the rider’s motion and offer technical properties like SPF protection, cooling, wicking and more,” she explained. “One major difference from other sports apparel is that it needs to be durable, but also beautiful.” With fabric that contains 21% spandex to ensure freedom of movement that has also been treated with an environmentally friendly finish to be odor resistant, Arista shirts fit all of a rider’s technical requirements.
With form and function covered, Jocelyn knows that riding apparel has to fit a third category—style. “Arista’s aesthetic is sophisticated simplicity,” she said. It’s important to her not to overbrand the clothing. “The style should speak for itself,” she added. And the style does, with classic patterns and timeless pieces for the well-dressed rider. Just like every woman should have a beloved “little black dress,” Jocelyn thinks every equestrian should have a “little black vest.” “My go-to piece is a simple black vest that has a superb fit and beautiful piping,” she told us.
From simple pieces to more intricate patterns, Jocelyn gets inspiration from everything around her at the barn. Fancy stitching on a hunter bridle, a polished stirrup dangling from a freshly conditioned saddle, the equestrian lifestyle seamlessly transfers to Arista’s designs. “In my mind, I always have a theme or general direction that I use as inspiration for a particular collection,” she explained. Starting with a color selection depending on the season, the team next develops prints and graphics with customer feedback in mind to always make sure they meet riders’ expectations.
Customer feedback is so important to Arista that Jocelyn is willing to change an entire product in order to please her audience. One of her new products for fall, the Rapture Reversible down vest, wasn’t actually reversible until an important piece of feedback came in. “I was showing a first sample of our new down vest to my co-worker, and she immediately loved it,” she said. “The print in the lining of the vest is so stunning that she was wowed and exclaimed, ‘And it’s reversible!’ When I told her it wasn’t, she was completely disappointed. I knew this would be every customer’s reaction, so I went back to the drawing board and made it reversible.”
For Jocelyn, that anecdote isn’t about just making a sale, but rather fulfilling Arista’s goal as a company. “Our core mission of providing the best possible products that exceed our customer’s expectations are never swayed by numbers on a spreadsheet,” she said. Being a small brand gives Arista the flexibility to devote that kind of attention to detail to their products while also adapting to an organic marketplace. It’s what makes them a favorite among riders.
Spending a lot of time at shows with In The Stirrup, Arista’s key distributor, gives Jocelyn quality facetime with her customers. “I am very lucky to be able to interact with them and hear comments like ‘Nothing fits like Arista,’ and ‘Arista is my favorite brand!’ It motivates me to keep meeting the customers’ expectations,” she explained. Fueled by positive feedback from Arista riders, Jocelyn wakes up every day excited to develop new, exciting clothing that fits the aesthetic and functional needs of the modern equestrian.
You can shop and see the entire Arista Equestrian clothing line at aristaequestrian.com. Find them on Facebook at Arista-Equestrian and Instagram @aristaequ or look for Arista at a retailer near you.
Arista Equestrian is available at these fine retailers: JODS, SmartPak, Dressage Extensions, Equine Outfitters LLC, The Surrey, Tack Shack of Ocala, Mary’s Tack & Feed, Horse Country, Equine Divine, & Horseman’s Outlet.
About the Author: Lauren holds an MFA in creative nonfiction from the University of California Riverside, and is a lifelong rider and writer. Beyond equestrian journalism, she explores body positivity, mental health and addiction through personal narrative. She enjoys showing on the local hunter/jumper circuit in Austin, Texas.
View More from This Author »