Sharie Loychuk's love of horses and fashion led her to breeches and beyond. The result, today, is Arista Equestrian.
"I began riding in 1982 after purchasing two horses," she recalls. "I started training with a wonderful coach taking private lessons in my backyard, but soon realized that I wanted to be with other riders, and I could learn so much more being in the environment of all the different disciplines and breeds of horses.
"I chose dressage as my focus and loved trail riding the mountains right at my barn door," she adds. "I continued to take lessons each week and entered a few small shows. It was important to me to be a good rider, but I discovered that being a pleasure rider was the best fit for me. I rode for nearly 20 years and loved everything about horses."
Horses weren't the only love in Loychuk's life. She started designing clothing at age 15 and wound up taking a few courses in tailoring. She also worked with a high-end lingerie company for four years, gaining a good introduction to the manufacturing side of the business. However, Loychuk maintains, "I am basically a self-taught designer. I have always had a love for fabrics and clothing, and spent all my spare time designing and sewing for my family and friends."
Eventually, there was an intersection of interests. "After purchasing my horses, I needed to buy all the tack and to outfit myself in riding clothes. I shopped all the tack shops, and found very little in the way of 'barn clothes' that I liked," she says.
While researching fabrics suitable for breeches, Loychuk realized that the materials she preferred were of European origin and not readily available in local stores. "In the meantime, I made up some yoga-style breeches that were a hit at my own barn--which led me to testing the market with this simple breech," she explains. "First store, nice order, sold out in a week. I really wanted to make the breeches in the European fabrics, which led me to a sportswear company in Vancouver, which led to a partnership with them--and Arista was started."
Originally, Arista's focus was on breeches only--and for good reason. "It is an extremely difficult garment to fit," Loychuk explains. "They have to look good, be extremely comfortable and wear well. We have made many changes over the years, always wanting to perfect the fit, and believe now we have maybe the best-fitting breech to be found. We continue to use only the best fabrics and washable leather from Europe."
One success led to another, and before long, Loychuk and company had launched Arista outerwear. It was an opportunity, she says, to create complementary pieces for the breeches--and for riders to start building a collection to which they could add each season. "We started introducing vests and jackets, and then some schooling shirts," she remembers. "The response was very positive, and equestrian fashion was gaining popularity with the tack shops. The riders were loving the availability to purchase specifically designed garments to meet the demands in all of the disciplines."
Every season, Loychuk strives to present beautiful, unique and classic riding apparel. This year is no exception, and Arista starts the spring with some "amazing" show shirts and some great outerwear for schooling and clinics. "My favorite piece is our Modern Competitor show, schooling and clinic jacket," she enthuses. "It has an incredible fit and looks fabulous on. It looks great with a pair of jeans, too!"