Hey there lovlies!
Get to know Show Season and all of its girls you know and love, as well as the behind-the-scene mechanics of how your fav. custom riding suit apparel company works, where the girls see our horsey fashion trends going this season, how these trends have transitioned over the years, and MORE, in this exclusive interview I had with them!
How did you get into showing and, through it, what knowledge did you bring to Show Season?
Sue Sidles – It all began with the gift of an Arabian gelding in 1970. From there, it morphed into a 28-acre ranch and 9-stall barn. I guess you could say we (my husband and I) were hooked. With both of us showing, we had to have clothes and there were few places available for both Western and English show attire. Of course, at that time, the clothing was very basic – nothing original and very few custom companies except for chaps. Having grown up with my parents in the women’s ready to wear, I wanted something different. That is the concept that brings unique vision to Show Season. Having created Show Season from the bottom up, it brings the wants and needs to our clients, with the additional benefit of experience in the show ring.
Patti Kossman – I grew up riding my older sister’s horses and then started going to gymkhana shows. My 5th grade teacher was David Booth and his wife, Charene, was an Arabian horse trainer. They asked my mom if I could go to a horse show to babysit. I was so intrigued and amazed, and knew I wanted to show these incredibly beautiful horses. Of course I still had my barrel horse! As for helping me with my contribution to Show Season, I knew the different disciplines, what the Arabian Horse world was about, and, as a previous client, how awesome it is opening up the box to see your new outfit.
Melissa Holmes – I was lucky enough to be born into it. I grew up on a farm in CT where my parent bred, raised, and showed Arabian horses. It is a good thing I loved it, because it was a family affair that we all did together. And because I had my own custom riding apparel made growing up, I can relate to both sides.
Bessie Derkes – Actually, I’ve never shown a horse. I have horses that I have ridden, but never shown. I took a different path to the present. I’ve been on the rail through thousands of classes and warm-ups with my cousin, Rick Nab. I’ve had the opportunity to see it all – all types of classes, all disciplines, all type of horses. I’ve sewn all my life, so when Rick opened his barn, I started sewing for his clients. I did a lot of fun things. That’s the fast track to today. I tried to retire and just ride my horse, but Show Season needed a chap maker, and Rick heard of this through Melissa and that’s how I became un-retired. I like to think that I brought to Show Season many years of sewing experience and creating equestrian show clothes and all that is involved in putting the complete picture together for our clients.
What changes have you seen in the clothes since 1981?
Sue – Over the years, it has been dramatic. As the shows and competition became larger and stronger, the fashion became better and better. We are on the “fringe” of the fashion industry. Our fabrics come from the latest offerings from the fashion houses of street wear designers, both men and women. The fabrics we now use are so luxurious and delicate, never intended to be used and abused by a saddle, sweat and wear, but they work, offering wearable art for the ring.
Patti – The clothes have become more personalized. Everyone is not wearing just the black, blu or brown coat, vest and jod, but instead, they can make their outfit their own. For instance, accessorizing the shirts for English is a fun way to personalize. And western has gone BLING! With all types of leathers, fabrics and designs the possibilities are endless. Hunt is still conservative, but, again, the wide range of fabric choices for coats and shirts has made it more colorful.
Melissa – As Patti said, the options have become never ending. We are able to now offer luxurious fabrics with sheen for one’s coat and jods, beaded vests with coordinating shirts and ties, a complete head-to-toe western look with awesome leathers and crystals, hunt coats with beautiful pattern and sharp shirts with monograms, riders get to choose from the best colors for them and their horse…
Bessie – I’ve seen so many changes. English is now fun and sparkly, Hunt is pushing the envelope, and Western is all out fun.
What influences the designs and selections of fabrics?
Sue – Many elements influence design and fabric selection. You have to be original and have a creative mind set when shopping for fabrics, trims and leather. It is an overload of the senses when you are buying and it is a team effort as each of us at Show Season has different tastes and color favorites. That’s why we offer something for everyone and if you don’t see it, we can create the vision for you. With the Western, our creativity shines and we change our designs frequently when we see they are being copied, a definite problem for designers everywhere.
Patti – Whether or not the rider is a professional or amateur has a large influence to start…and then taking into consideration the horse/horses it will be worn on along with the rider. With all the options a rider can usually get their favorite color(s) into the mix too.
Melissa – The fashion world has a direct impact on what we see in the show ring. We incorporate the client, the horse, and the level in which they compete
Are there any new trends that you have recently seen happening or old trends reemerging this season?
Sue – We do our best to remain on the cutting edge for every new show season. Our clients get tired of the same looks so we have to spice it up with new and different ways to present our riders. The contrasting coat was all the rage in the late 80’s and is coming back with beautiful, but subtle colored fabrics in paisley, window panes, and self stripes. The “shine” on the silk and wools is very popular and looks fabulous in the ring along with sequin vests and colorful ties and shirts. Western changes by playing with different with combos of leather, sequins, trims, and crystals that can be carried throughout the outfit. Western is definitely more creative and should show the personality of the rider.
Melissa – They say what comes around goes around. That would be the contrasting coat this year, it’s the wave of the future.
Bessie – When we are thinking of new designs, it’s always fun to think back and maybe recycle some fashion details. Everything keeps changing.
What is your favorite part of the design process?
Sue – Seeing the concept go from the picture in your head to the drawing, then to pattern and finally the finished product. That’s what makes gives a Western look one’s personal signature. With English and Hunt, the pattern is basically the same, so one’s use of fabrics and unique combinations is essential while remaining within the rules. The ultimate thrill is to see your clothing in the ring, the beaming smiles and the ribbons to follow. We are always a part of the riders show experience through their clothing.
Patti – Watching the rider get super excited about their new outfit choices, and coming back to show their friends.
Bessie – The whole design process in itself is my favorite part. Throwing different fabrics, leathers, colors and trims together and the constant changes until the ultimate combination is achieved is very exciting and something that is given immense thought.
How do you manage all the moving parts that go from the show to the office?
Sue – I learned early on that I could not both show and run this business – it is too much responsibility. Although some of the people have changed over the years, we are fortunate to have longevity with our employees as well as our venders and suppliers… My husband, Steve, is the CFO, truck driver and set up man, Melissa Holmes is our extraordinary Sales Manager for 27 years and the “face” of Show Season. Patti Kossmann is our multi tasking, get your clothing on time, Office Manager. Bessie Derkes has brought her 30 years of talent to our chaps. Melissa, Patti and I work in tandem on every order until it is out the door and received by the client. The support system from sales to completed outfit is vast as one order can have 30 or more factors. All have moving parts as ordering fabric, trim, leather, shirting’s, crystals, hats, mean conversations and emails to numerous individuals and companies. “I need it yesterday” is a frequent comment. Fabrics are out, don’t arrive, get damaged, or are dyed wrong a lot. Large shows with lots of orders take on a life of their own as so many orders need to be processed at the same time and delivered in the very near future. We have worked as a team for so long, everyone knows their job and no one needs direction – just more time!!
Patti – Thankfully Melissa has this part down to a science and she makes it very easy for us all. The hard part starts after the show – back at the office. Going through all the orders and determining what fabrics we have in stock, what needs to be ordered, how much for each garment being made and calling the individual suppliers with the orders. After a big show like Scottsdale or U.S. Nationals that process can take a week or longer. Sometimes fabrics are out of stock or on backorder and that can change everything regarding that order. Never fun having to call a client and tell them their fabric is no longer available. Then taking a person’s measurements, converting them into the actual garment is a whole new game. You definitely have to pay close attention to all the details. When all the ‘pieces’ come into the shop, we can then put the order together and give it to the appropriate tailor. I could go on forever regarding the many things that go into getting an outfit completed. As a client of Show Season’s before working here, I personally would never have imagined how much time and team work it takes to get an outfit from sitting down with Melissa (or me), picking everything out, and then getting the finished product delivered! It is a process and can be stressful, but also rewarding when we get calls of joy from clients.
Melissa – Wow – there are so many steps to the finished garments. One wouldn’t ever imagine the amount of work and time that goes into each and every outfit we complete. I just know that I have the best part in helping that client pick the perfect winning outfit for them and there horse!
What do you think makes Show Season special?
Sue – You can just sell clothing or you can create and fulfill a dream. When you sit at our table to order, we bring you history, knowledge, confidence and original design. For me, Show Season is very personal, like a child that has grown to adulthood. As we get into our third generation of clients, I love the new and fresh ideas that evolve to keep us always on the cutting edge, after all, “Getting Dressed is Half the Fun!!”
Patti – There is two things that makes Show Season special. The first is the people who work here. Everyone wants the end product to be spectacular and fit perfect, and as a team we strive for that result. We also get excited seeing an outfit come together.
The second thing that makes Show Season special is our clients! We have the best and most wonderful people we get to dress. I personally can say I have clients that have become a part of my life and although I may only see them once a year it is like family.
Melissa – We stand behind what we do 100%, if you are not happy we are not happy.
Bessie – Show Season is so special because of the great amount of detail and attention that every order is given. We talk over so many details of every order – from fabrics, linings, trim, leathers, embroidery – list is endless. And we give our clients the best fabric selection, designs, trims, etc., to put together what the client wants, which is the complete package to give them confidence.