Fashion Flash: LA Saddlery’s Online Deals

By March 8, 2012

LA Saddlery's online homepage offers premium items at substantial discounts.

While the concept of the “flash sale” is not new to regular readers of Vogue and WWD, it’s still somewhat novel in the equestrian world, where LA Saddlery owners Tabitha Knaub and Renee Spurge have made it a centerpiece of their newly relaunched online store,

More than just an electronic presence for their brick-and-mortar boutique at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center, the proprietors have put considerable effort into creating a unique shopping experience:  a rotating inventory of 10-20 quality items selected with care and offered at a special price.

“What we’re doing with the website is presenting items we have identified as a great value for our customers that are made available at a limited time for a really great price,” Knaub said. Whether the result of overstock, closeouts or first-mover deals, the duo works with a mix of top suppliers ― Kentucky, Joules, Marigold, Goode Rider, and Pikeur are a few  ― and independent manufacturers to cherrypick items that are offered at as much as 30-60% off.

To get in on the savings, shoppers must sign up for a free membership at the LA Saddlery website. They are then apprised of new sales via email, Facebook and Twitter. While inventory is completely turned over every two weeks, items are constantly being shuffled. “We always offer a mix ― one week might feature more breeches, another jackets or things for your horse.”

A random visit to the site results in serious fashion envy over Good Rider Couture Breeches in putty (nearly half off, at $89.50), a gray Grand Prix ladies hunt coat for $265 (normally $440) and Swarovski-flecked crops for both dressage and jumpers.

“Just because something is on clearance doesn’t mean you should buy it,” Knaub  said. “We look at a lot of things and pick out only the best stuff.” They also offer suggestions for mix-and-match, and anyone who has talked to Knaub or Spurge for 10 minutes can’t help but be amazed by their depth of knowledge on everything from the cut or fit of a specific brand to the wearability of a particular fabric.

“We’re both shopaholic fashionistas in our regular lives, and while we each have our own style, we both subscribe to the same basic concept: a pulled-together look that is classic and elegant, yet allows you to stand out from the crowd. That’s the sensibility we bring to the store and the website,” Knaub said.

LA Saddlery online shopping page offers multiple views of each item, allowing shoppers to zoom in on details and check out different angles.

Their expertise ― and inventory ― is fueled by two major U.S. shopping trips a year, which they are hoping to augment with a few jaunts to Europe. Germany hosts a major sportswear expo, and the Italians have always been reliable suppliers of elegant goods, as have become the Canadians. “We’re seeing a lot of really nice product from Canada. It’s all manufactured right there and the quality is excellent,” Spurge noted.

They also meet frequently with Southern California designers. A local custom clothing company, Élevée, and a line of bejeweled brow bands by Nicole Reynolds that look like they’d be at home in the Hermitage are examples of two area artisans on display at the LA Saddlery store, which celebrates its fourth anniversary this year.

The physical shop offers a full selection of tack as well as clothing. Part of what Spurge and Knaub see as their mission is expanding riders’ horizons in terms of stable style.

“At most stores, you’ll see a lot of navy and beige. Our suppliers are always surprised at how conservative riders are in California,” Spurge added. “Fashion-wise, it’s even more conservative than the East Coast. But if people get a chance to see something different, they might want to try it.”

In the hunter ring in particular, there is a high degree of sensitivity to things that appear to veer from the norm. Things like the color or style of the buttons, subtle details like a piped collar, or even a fun color or printed lining can become major question marks in the minds of trainers.

While jumpers, dressage riders and eventers seem to be coming along in terms of willingness to wow, the hunters remain rooted in tradition. To explore these relatively uncharted waters, the duo is planning a hunter fashion show for spring that will feature two judges evaluating the suitability of different outfits for the show ring.

“Some of the companies let you pick out everything yourself ― the fabric, the detail, the lining. We’ve been working with them to design our own hunt coats and doing really fun things,” Spurge said. “These are items that are unique to us, and now we’re starting to put some of them online. So there you go! Visit our website and you might find an LA Saddlery custom hunt coat at 30% off!”

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