As most of you may know, I love Le Fash. I interviewed Arianna Vastino, the founder and president of the brand. The big appeal of Le Fash, besides its gorgeous, well-made clothing, is that it’s the first “cross over” equestrian brand meaning it can be worn both at the stable and on the street. I often wear my Le Fash show shirts to work as blouses under my suit. Arianna was kind enough to grant us an interview, especially because she has such a busy schedule of getting out deliveries and designing for some new items that will be released this upcoming summer.
Arianna is 32 years old and describes herself as a “jersey girl.” She loves horses and fashion, but she said she actually enjoys all animals. She also is married to who she calls “the best guy in the world.”
Arianna’s riding career began when she was extremely young. She started riding when she was 3 when her parents bought her and her sister a pony. Arianna’s career hasn’t stopped since, and she has competed successfully on the hunter/jumper circuit as a junior and amateur rider.
Although Arianna’s riding somewhat took a back seat to Le Fash when it first launched. She said she still rides every day. She loves actively training and “always learning.”
“I would love to start showing again once the brand can run more on autopilot,” she said.
Arianna currently owns a Dutch Warmblood name Zeus who was imported from Europe as a 7 year old. She said that she turned Zeus into her “perfect hunter.”
“He’s the best! You can see him modeling in the Le Fash shoots, which he absolutely loves,” Arianna said. “When I have a particularly hard day, I love to be able to use riding as my way to relax and remember that I love this sport, the main reason for starting my brand.”
Besides a passion for riding, Arianna also has a passion for fashion.
“I always loved the fast paced life of the fashion industry and was drawn to style at a young age,” Arianna said. “My mother will tell you that in 1st grade, my homework was to draw something for the letter ‘L,’ and I drew a lipstick with a Christian Dior logo.”
Arianna graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Pratt Institute in New York. After that, she obtained her Master’s in Fashion Styling from Istituto Maragoni in Milan. As if this wasn’t impressive enough, she has a long list of internships and jobs with many well-known and highly-thought of fashion companies.
“I did work for many of the industry’s top companies and fashion magazines as both a designer and stylist such as Elle, In Style, Victoria’s Secret and Bergdorf Goodman, where I worked exclusively as a stylist for 3 years,” she said.
Arianna’s love for fashion gave her the inspiration to start Le Fash. It is not secret that many big name fashion companies use equestrian outfits as inspiration for many of their lines. Arianna though the exact opposite.
“[W]hen I put on my show clothes I thought they looked and fit awful. So I had a moment where I thought ‘Why are we equestrians inspiring these gorgeous clothing from major designers but yet we don’t have anything cool for ourselves?’ I thought it would be great to not only have clothing that looked great; traditional with an updated fit but also that would appeal to those non-equestrian clients who wanted to emulate our style,” Arianna said.
Thus Le Fash was born.
Arianna worked on the company for about 5 years before she actually quit her full-time job and launched Le Fash.
Although Arianna had complete confidence in her idea for clothing that could double as street and riding clothes, she has been very surprised as to how well-received it has been in the industry.
“I think every entrepreneur has to get over the initial fear of their idea not being accepted[,] [e]specially if it’s in a market like ours which doesn’t like change. That’s the hard part and probably the reason that I didn’t launch sooner,” Arianna said. “But I did my homework. I spoke to as many riders, professionals, [and] business owners that I could and studied the industry to figure out my niche. Being an equestrian myself, I not only test each product personally before launching it but continually improve the fit and finishes over and over after hearing feedback.”
Many of Le Fash’s prints and fabrics are chosen for their comfort, fit, and performance.
“Riders need fabrics to be able to be durable but also comfortable, provide structure but also technical performance. It’s like combining your suit for work with your gym clothes and your pajamas all together,” she said. “You can really see this engineering in my shirting line which took a lot of time to figure out which fabrications would work best.”
Arianna looks to mainstream season color trends when it comes to choosing the prints she utilizes for her shirts and other clothing. She tries to keep it traditional while also pushing the limit more each season. Furthermore, she is always considering what colors would look great on a horse or with a traditional show coat and tall boots.
“I like to push innovation in my products which is why I feel the products have been so successful,” she said.
Brand ambassadorships are a huge thing nowadays, and we asked Le Fash if they currently have one.
“We currently aren’t doing an ambassador program. I had some issues with this program. I think it started out as a great idea but too many companies started to do it and people got to fixed on the idea about getting free products and less on organic promotion of a product they truly enjoyed,” she said. “I see people on social media that are wearing my products but won’t tag us because they aren’t getting paid for it which seems ingenuine.”
Le Fash does have sponsored riders, and they are all well-known. They include riders such as Jennifer Alfano, Maggie Jayne, and most recently, Hunter Holloway, who has made a break into the Big Eq ring and is currently working with Arianna on some awesome new items for the summer season. Arianna has found that the interest in Le Fash has grown because of the success of her sponsored riders. She feels it gives the brand “street cred.”
“They are great riders because they take risks and that is why people look up to them. These risks include attire that they decide they want to wear based on their likes and not because everyone else thinks they should wear that,” she said. “Maggie Jayne actually won Medal Finals wearing a pony tail, which started the trend we see now.”
Arianna believes that the attire rules in the sport are “less severe” than what riders think. She has experience negativity from trainers and clients who believe they can’t wear certain prints in the hunter or equitation rings. However, Arianna feels those beliefs just aren’t true.
“Yes, we have some rules but if Jen Alfano can wear a plaid Le Fash shirt in the High Performance Hunters at Devon, than you can too. If Hunter Holloway can wear the City Breech at Maclay Finals and practically win, than you can too.”
She continued, “having my products on these riders has allowed me to give customers an understanding that new isn’t wrong[,] [e]specially when I am fixing all of these issues that we see from older brands who refuse to change.”
Le Fash just released its Spring 2015 collection, which is gorgeous. The company has even more in store for the summer.
“We have a new summer collection that will release in May that includes product collaborations with Hunter Holloway,” she said.
Also, for those dressage riders out there that love Le Fash, the company will be releasing a full seat City Breech.
Finally, Le Fash has harnassed some technology to create a unique experience for its clients, a mobile experience accessible from the apparel hangtags using Near Field Communication technology, or NFC.
“By simply tapping the back of your mobile device to the NFC mTAGs, customers will be directed to a customized mobile experience from any store that carries Le Fash products,” Arianna explained. “Smartphone users who do not have NFC on their phones will have to scan the accompanying Quick Response (QR) code, also located on the inside of the tag. The mobile experience will include exclusive content, like a 30 second video about the brand, and other special features about our products. It’s like stepping inside the world of Le Fash.”
While Le Fash is limited to breeches, show and sport shirts, and most recently, stock ties, Arianna plans on branching out into accessories and show coats as well as a potential kids’ line.
“I even have a name chosen,” she said of the children’s line. We personally can’t think of anything cuter than pony kids rocking Le Fash in the show ring.
Despite Le Fash’s success, Arianna never lets her guard down to relax. Her nerves still crop up when she launches a new collection that has new designs and clothing concepts. She continues to work harder and make each collection better than the last.
All photos courtesy of Le Fash, me, or the individuals credited in the caption. Please do not use without permission.