October 2018 - Iago: Behind The Brand
Written by by Renee Spurge
Thursday, 27 September 2018 19:49
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Personal WEG preparation prompts an epiphany on what makes good fashion.

by Renee Spurge

On planning my trip to the World Equestrian Games in Tryon, N.C., last month, I obsessively looked at the weather forecast everyday leading up to my departure. To my dismay, the little cloud with the thunderbolt next to the extremely high temp and humidity persevered, despite my constant prayers and shaking of the phone. After years of ruining all of my favorite pieces of clothing working the horse shows, I decided to go out in search of some cheap sundresses that I could destroy with what I could only anticipate would be endless perspiration.    



I happened upon a store that looked like a retro explosion of polka-dot and floral print dresses for pre-teens. Luckily the store clerk was a sassy blonde with a ton of personality and style and she set me off in the right direction.  It turns out, though not more then 25, she was also the store manager, and recent Home Economics graduate.  Yes, apparently there is such a thing.  

The dresses were all flimsy polyester wraps or throw-overs with little to no design elements, but they were all vibrant in pattern and color and fell into my price point of under $50. Surprisingly they were also all made in the USA. I did take a quick peek in the back just to make sure there wasn’t an in-house sweat shop. Alas, there was not! After 30 or so minutes of extremely effective customer service and fashion sensibility from my Home Ec stylist, I left with five dresses, two tops, some awfully flowy pants, and three perfectly paired tanks to complete my ensembles. All that for less then a stall at an A circuit California horse show! I was now ready for my two-week steam room trip to Tryon.

This experience got me to thinking about my world, the equestrian retail world: more specifically what makes for good fashion. And the answer is simple, it’s 90% about the people and 10% the product. If I had walked into that store and my sassy Home Ec aficionado had not been there, I would be clawing my way out of jeans right about now. She had vision, she had solutions, she had an eye for my shape and style.  She took a sub-par product and made it into fashion.

Now just think of the possibilities if you also had a superior product. And that, my friends, is what I am bringing with me to WEG. I may not know how to sew a button on your coat, but I know the exact coat that is going to look fabulous on you. And that coat just might be from Iago Italia.

A Brand Coming Into Its Own

I discovered the Iago brand a few years back when I was in Italy.   was sick of the traditional tradeshows where all the stores end up caring the same boring brands. So I went straight to the Italian riders and asked them what they wear.  The answer was decisive, “We love Iago.” The brand is still made entirely in Italy (where most high-end riding brands are not anymore) a point that is important to me because it shows that the manufacturers care more about the product than the manufacturing price. It also means they care about employing their own people, in their home towns, which holds a lot of weight for me as a fellow small, local business.

The owner, Alberto, runs the boutique line with the sole help of his wife, and his Type A, over-achieving personality. It was like we were meant to be! But let me be honest. In the beginning, the Iago brand was not a mind blowing, completely unique, and or especially innovative line of clothing. It looked a little bit like original Animo, a slight resemblance to current Cavaleria Toscana, with elements of timeless Equiline thrown in for good measure. Alberto is not a designer, he is a smart and hard working businessman supporting his family. He values quality, customer service and integrity. Let me tell you, I don’t see that very often in the equestrian retail world. He also happens to be extremely open-minded, and trusts my aesthetic sensibilities and knowledge of the American market. He has altered the fit of their jackets and breeches for me, added hunter and equitation friendly options to the line, and included lifestyle elements such as chic V-neck sweaters. All per my recommendations. No redundant questions, no ego getting in the way of decision making, again very rare! And every season the brand starts to take on a look of its own.

With each new collection I start to recognize Iago for its individuality and I can see how the brand is evolving.

Clean & Comfortable

It is an impeccably clean and colorful brand. The fabrics are top of the line, the construction is on point, and after three years I have had very few problems with quality. If any have arisen, there is always a quick and easy solution from the manufacturer. I myself have worn the same breeches for all three years, and even though I continue to squeeze into what’s probably a size too small, they have held up like champs to the pressure, literally!

The Madonna Breech was added to the All Seasons Collection this year and has been a break out breech for us at LA Saddlery.  The fabric is super soft and dreamy, and the rise is a bit higher with a wider waistband.  The new fall colors are a dark rich hunter green and a luscious Bordeaux. The fall collection also includes the Madonna with piping details that adds an extra pop, especially the ruby red over the navy fabric, my favorite pick for WEG customers.  

The Elena Show Coat is another must have for this fall season. Available in several colors including a lovely light grey, this sassy little show coat is extremely light weight and fantastically stretchy. It molds to your shape without giving too much away. The grey alcantara collar and pocket details provide a lovely pop of design and texture to complete the look.  

For this fall collection Iago has two fabulous sweater options to choose from. The Kyra, high V-neck merino wool sweater is finished with a bit of fancy stitching around the V and base of the sweater. It is a cool Iago twist on the classic V-necks that are still wildly popular for riders to throw over a casual polo or show shirt. But I am personally in love with the Jenna, a scoop neck cable knit merino sweater that has as sexy preppy thing going on. Every time I put mine on I feel like I need to be at a Harvard café sipping my cappuccino and writing poetry.  I know, I am weird.  

So here I am on the plane off to WEG to debut the 2018 Fall Iago Collection. I will be thinking of my bubbly Home Ec stylist back home and trying to channel her positive energy while I sweat through her mustard and blue polka-dot wrap dress!

Author Renee Spurge owns the mobile and online equestrian fashion business, LA Saddlery, and is also an active amateur rider. To find out more about Renee and her business, visit www.lasaddlery.com.