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Hottest Horse Show Fashion Trends for 2024 – with Kevin Garcia Originals

We talked to leading show clothes designer Kevin Garcia of Kevin Garcia Originals to get the scoop on what's trending this year in horse show fashion. Find out what's hot for 2024.

A leader in horse show clothing design for more than two decades, Kevin Garcia of Kevin Garcia Originals has seen show pen trends come and go – and sometimes come and go again. With a long list of custom orders and unique, ready-to-wear designs, Garcia undoubtedly has his finger on the pulse of show pen fashion. Here, he offers his insights into 2024’s hottest show pen trends.

Bright Colors, Fun Fabrics Steal the Show
Bright colors and unique color combinations are popular this year. Garcia attributes this trend to the shift to louder-colored and louder-patterned show pads. Perhaps surprisingly, given the nature of horse showing, white is also a popular request among Garcia’s custom orders.

“White is hugely popular. I was against it at first, to be honest. I thought it would be too hard to keep clean, and there’s always a concern with other colors running or bleeding onto a white shirt, but we’ve had really good luck with the whites, and people are loving them,” Garcia says. “We’ve also been doing a lot of neons, and people absolutely love those, too.”


Not a lover of brights or whites? Garcia says jewel tones, like dark colors, are almost always timeless, flattering choices. “If you have the personality that something super bright suits you, then go for it,” he says. He cautions against a monochrome palette and against an outfit that matches the horse’s coat color, explaining there’s a high probability of looking washed out in those situations.

Another trend Garcia has seen take off in his business is shirts with a metallic sheen. “Our metallic shirt promo was the biggest promotion to date. We have 88 different colors in this shiny fabric, and people across performance horse disciplines love them. We add a fun ombre collar and cuff, and that’s really all it needs. The fabric offers a great fit and is very comfortable,” Garcia says.

For kids, lots of fun colors are always great for the show pen. “This is the time you should be able to have fun with it!”


Simplicity Wanes
Though simplicity has been the name of the game in recent years, Garcia has noticed trends shifting back toward a more embellished outfit with acute attention to detail. Even day shirts, though originally embraced for their simplicity, are packing more design elements than before. Whether full-sleeve designs or the trendy yolks many are requesting this year, he’s noticing a move away from the plain, solid-color shirts that have recently dominated.

Adding sparkle through crystals remains popular, but Garcia emphasizes the importance of quality in the details. “We only use the highest quality, which makes an absolute difference in the final product. I always advise using the higher quality and, depending on the budget, perhaps less of it instead of a bunch of low-quality details that will end up really not doing much,” Garcia says.

Lace and sheer-sleeved tops had their moment in the show pen, but when exhibitors quickly discovered that those fabrics didn’t stretch and were itchy, they lost their appeal. Since many still love the style, Garcia successfully sought an alternative. His solution is a printed mesh fabric with the same sheer look on shirt sleeves.

“Vendors make these fabrics for ice skating and other types of costuming, so I’ve found so many options out there for that fabric, and they are all really fun. They’re super comfortable and lightweight, offering both comfort and ventilation. It’s a great option.”


Class-specific Styles
This year’s Horsemanship classes will likely see more back zip tops, which Garcia feels is a good shift. “Back zip tops tend to be more flattering because you can get a better fit. The collar is neater on a back zip than a front zip, and if Horsemanship is someone’s best event, a nice, clean back zip top is a good investment,” he says. Full-sleeve tops don’t work as well for horsemanship, where clean lines and downplaying any body movement are important to the overall score. Garcia’s half-sleeve design retro shirts are also a great way to go for Horsemanship.

Meanwhile, the Western Pleasure pen will likely continue its adventure in glitz. “Generally speaking, Western Pleasure riders always like a little more. They tend to be a little extra. Many Western people only do the Western events, so they really want something that makes a statement,” Garcia explains.

He advises customers to make a statement when they can rather than dress in whatever style others wear. “Go with your gut. Go with what feels good to you. In the end, you have to wear it and feel good in it, so, though it’s ok to get advice from your trainer or others, don’t be limited by that. Find something truly original and make your statement when you can.”

Showmanship is about precision, so suits and jackets can fit the bill as long as they have a flattering, clean fit and are tailored to the exhibitor. “Suits are more economical, so they are very popular. But it seems that people either like suits or they don’t; there’s not a lot of in-between. If you have a great, sparkly presentation, it won’t matter which you wear. But if you need more personality in your presentation, a more dynamic outfit is a great place to do that,” Garcia says.

No matter the class, Garcia advises: “Don’t wear shirts too tight. Too tight does not fit. Your size is something you look comfortable in. If you look uncomfortable, your shirt is too small. There is such pressure to look a certain way, and I feel strongly that what God gave you is what you got. Embrace it!”

He encourages people to find their own style and utilize designers to help do that. “That’s what we do. We have lots of really artistic pieces and lots of designs. Fashion is about how it makes you feel; it’s like art in that way – it should give you a feeling. So, if you’re looking for something special, to make a statement and make you feel good, I always have an idea.”

About the Author: Megan Sacia Ulrich earned her Bachelor’s in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin. She currently teaches high school English and enjoys showing in all around events.

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