Country Living Magazine
Style and Purpose
Feeling the squeeze? It could be good for you, says the founder of North East equestrian clothing company Vivendi
For a competitive rider, there's nothing better than feeling supported by friends and family as you gallop to a win, jump to victory or dance your way to a medal in the dressage. It's a bonus to look great while you're doing it, of course, but the owner of one equestrian clothing label was determined to take things a step further – Elizabeth Davies, of Vivendi Apparel, designs riding gear that will support you too.
These are great-looking duds – stylish, fashionable – but from the get-go, Vivendi Apparel has stood out because of its focus on compression wear. In-built panels help reduce muscle fatigue, as well as the likelihood of injury.
"Our garments were originally designed and manufactured specifically to aid riders with injury recovery, more specifically those with spinal injuries, but we discovered they had benefits for all sorts of athletes," says Elizabeth. "While our roots sit firmly within the equestrian sector, our compression wear is now synonymous with a multitude of sports, flourishing beyond the showjumping arena, from runners to weight lifters to cyclists. From eventing to the gym floor, our innovative, second-skin compression wear will give you an edge, ensuring you feel as good as you look."
Research has shown that compression wear can have incredible medical benefits, aside from injury reduction and increased recovery rates. It also provides a multitude of medical benefits for those suffering from chronic conditions such as fibromyalgia, arthritis, autism and much more. "I broke my neck when I was 14 and had a period of rehabilitation and physio," says Elizabeth, which helps to explain her interest in fitness and rehabilitation. "We've found the medical grade compression wear we use helps so many people and ailments, like fibromyalgia and chronic pain, as well as helping to smooth and sculpt, helping to improve the appearance of cellulite. The compression benefits span all kinds of activities and ailments and the feedback we get is incredible."
Elizabeth founded the company after a very turbulent time in her life, when she packed up her children and dogs and headed back to the UK, leaving behind her ex husband and a life in Southern France. She also had to leave behind her horse - Vivendi. "I set up Vivendi Apparel with nothing and the brand has become known globally over the course of the past three years," she says proudly. "Modus vivendi means ‘a way of life’ of course, which is something our clothing stands strongly for."
The Vivendi team are ex emergency services and equestrians with fitness & wellness close to their hearts – Elizabeth is a former police officer, Jennifer Hyde, a Firefighter with the London Fire Brigade for 15 years.
As the brand grew and evolved, so did the women's desire to provide an antidote to planet-damaging fast fashion. "With the fashion industry producing around ten per cent of global carbon dioxide emissions each year, we felt it was our duty to provide our customers with an answer," says Elizabeth. "Every item in our line has been designed and manufactured to offer a long-term solution. All of our pieces are carefully produced to ensure they can be worn across the board, from the arena to the weights rack, as well as through the seasons. You can match a brand new compression legging from our latest line with last season's cropped base layer, and do so with ease, not only stylistically, but through functionality too.
"Although equestrian is 95 per cent of our audience and sales, we focus on the busy, active woman who has little time in her day for outfit changes and can wear the clothing from the early morning school run to shopping, dog walking, the gym, riding and mucking out, until the end of the day. This is part of our sustainability message: buy less, wear more. Once you wear these leggings, you will want to wear very little else."
There are silicone grip riding leggings in an array of fabrics and temperature-regulated leggings. From phone pocket, high-waisted riding tights to riding tops, dressage saddle pads, fleece leg wraps and fly veils, Vivendi Apparel has horse and rider covered. The clothing is available in sizes 4 to 22.
Ironically, having once owned seven horses, Elizabeth doesn't have time any more. When she's not strength training - a real passion - she is busy designing everything, from the logo to every item of clothing. She is also in talks with Teesside University regarding the scientific testing of Vivendi products, to back up the amazing feedback from customers, and looking for kickstarter funding to move this forward in the coming months. The clothing is only available online at present, but Vivendi has plans to branch out into wholesale.
"Vivendi Apparel began as a dream, a vision to bring to our audience a clothing brand that didn’t just provide a sense of style, but a lifestyle choice at the same time," says Elizabeth. "We have such exciting plans for the future."