Emma Werner is one of many individuals on the grounds at Desert International Horse Park who have merged their passions and started a business. Werner took a slightly different approach, however, prioritizing sustainability and guaranteeing zero waste in the production of her equestrian lifestyle brand The Surrey.
Originally from the East Coast, Werner spent her junior years riding and competing before moving to New York City to pursue fashion, working specifically with Stella McCartney. She eventually made her way back to Los Angeles, where her gears shifted towards red carpet styling and allowed her more time to get back into riding.
“When I got back into the sport I felt there was so much we could do to incorporate sustainable practices,” Werner explained. “I felt like I could bring the knowledge and technology from my fashion career to equestrian fashion.”
Both sets of grandparents owned farms on the East Coast, which is where Werner’s natural love of horses, as well as a bit of the inspiration behind The Surrey, originated. “When I look back on the photos from my family’s equestrian background, I got very inspired by that style. They used those farms and cabins as an escape from the city,” she explained.
A “surrey” is a four-wheeled carriage, which, in part, served as inspiration for the brand’s name and logo. “There was a small tack shop in Maryland with a similar name where I grew up, and I have fond memories of buying riding clothes there,” Werner said. “It brought in the foxhunting visual, also bringing in the surrey as a wagon wheel. My goal is to incorporate the Western element into an English-inspired equestrian aesthetic.”
Using all her combined expertise, The Surrey was born. Officially launching in February at Desert International Horse Park, Werner’s vision brought to life offers apparel, accessories and textiles, featuring a variety of clothing options as well as home products, including custom pillows and knit throw blankets.
The clothing is made from naturally biodegradable and sustainable merino wool, which is also RWS certified, meaning it uses a cruelty-free process of generating wool. The material features inherent performance-enhancing qualities, which are frequently used in skiing and cycling.
While the product style doesn’t scream sportswear, it absorbs moisture quickly, offers odor-wicking technology, and does not wrinkle. The clothing is insulating in the cold and breathable in heat, making it the perfect option in the desert where the cold mornings drop into the 40s and the middle of the day heats well into the 70s.
In short, they are riding clothes and designed for performance, but they fit into a laid-back but elegant and luxury lifestyle.
She didn’t stop at clothing, however.
“I was really lucky to run into this company called Variant, which is in the hills of Malibu,” Werner explained. “They are innovating and reinventing the wheel when it comes to textiles. We are the only equestrian brand working with them. They can customize anything, but with zero waste. They use yarn that comes from recycled plastic bottles from the ocean. There is absolutely zero waste involved with making these products.”
If you step into The Surrey’s pop-up on vendor row at Desert Horse Park, the throw blankets will take your breath away. With a few examples mounted to hang on the walls, you can see the 3D printing action at work, making photographs come to life in stunning shades of brown stitched into extremely soft and warm fabric. Twenty-four recycled plastic water bottles are used in each blanket.
Anyone competing at the showgrounds Thermal, California, would likely recognize her throw pillow design, as they have been used as prizes in award ceremonies beginning in December. “It was exciting to see the reaction to people loving their pillows,” Werner said. “The cool thing about this process is we can do any design, but there’s a consistent element of luxury to the yarn and the feel of the product.”
Desert Horse Park offers competitors a unique prize system, allowing competitors to exchange their blue ribbons and championship ribbons for significant prizes. The pillow has been among the most popular choices for prize redemption.
Steve Hankin, President and CEO of Desert International Horse Park, echoed the importance of sustainability and brand promotion through The Surrey. “It’s been really well received and it’s great for our brand,” Hankin remarked. “Sustainability all in all is critical, especially in California. It’s great to do our part in supporting the environment.”
“A lot of industries are catching up, but I think there are a lot more [sustainable practices] that we can do with the equestrian community,” Werner said. “With this 3D knitting process, the options are endless. We intend to get into saddle pads, wraps, and all sorts of things that can be made to fit the performance and comfort needs of the rider and the horse.”
The Surrey inspires western-influenced English luxury, and also provides countless options for riders to wear the styles they like while riding, whether competing at the highest levels or going out for a trail ride.
To shop The Surrey, visit thesurreyshop.com/ or stop by their pop-up on vendor row at Desert International Horse Park during Desert Circuit weeks VI, VII, VIII, and IX.