As country style comes to the fore for autumn/winter, Lucy Oates finds out what equestrian and rural wear retailer R&R Country has to offer.
Over the last 20 years, R&R Country, of Hemingbrough, near Selby, has carved out a reputation as the area’s go-to retailer for equestrian and country wear.
However, with an extensive range of on-trend over-the-knee boots, stylish capes and highly covetable leather totes by brands including Fairfax & Favor, Dubarry, Joules and Schoffel in stock, the business is rapidly earning its fashion stripes.
The management team are keen to demonstrate that the footwear, accessories and clothing in its Autumn/Winter 2017 range work just as well in an urban setting as they do against a more rural backdrop.
Hannah Daniels, who works in the marketing team, said: “People assume that we’re an equestrian-oriented store and that is, of course, a large part of our market, but so many of the garments in our clothing range can be styled up for a day out shopping, for work or lunch out.”
Hannah and her colleagues recently staged a fashion shoot on farmland and in woodland close to the Hemingbrough store, which was inspired by nature and the changing colours of the surrounding countryside as we head into autumn. It featured a number of key items from the current collection, including Fairfax & Favor’s Amira over-the-knee boots. Crafted in suede and with a seven-centimetre block heel, they’re available in navy or tan, neutral tones that look great with almost anything. Retailing at £395, they’re definitely a splurge rather than a steal, but they make a real style statement and are a great starting point for a host of autumn/winter looks.
According to Hannah, many of us steer clear of over-the-knee boots because we’re unsure how to wear them. “One of the most common questions that customers ask is how they can look chic in over-the-knee boots without looking inappropriate,” she says. “The Amira is a feminine boot that’s suitable for everything from a day at the office to evening drinks with the girls.”
For a series of smart daytime looks, Hannah suggests pairing Amira boots with everything from skinny jeans and a Flora poncho by Cove Cashmere to Dubarry’s classic, tweed, Clover mini skirt or even a chunky, sweater dress topped off with an Eden trilby by Heather Hats and Accessories (£24).
She insists that, by ramping up the glamour factor, Amira boots will easily take you from day to night, adding: “For evening, leather pants are a great option, with a classic white shirt. To smarten the look, or when there’s a nip in the air, team them with your favourite blazer. For a knock-out outfit for an occasion, style over-the-knee boots with shorter dresses and playsuits. For our shoot, we added Fairfax & Favor’s Sennowe belt and a Hurlingham tote to a cream, lace playsuit belonging to one of our models, which was a really fun and quirky look.”
Other stand-out items from R&R Country’s Autumn/Winter collection include super-snug capes by Joules and Toggi. The Contessa by Joules, which retails at £259, looks especially good when paired with skinny jeans or leggings and a pair of statement boots. Fairfax & Favor’s Hurlingham tote in tan (£355) or Windsor bag in navy (£345) are timeless investment buys that you’ll be using for years to come.
R&R Country opened its Hemingbrough store in 1997 and a second branch – at Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire – followed in 2011. The business was established by the Falkinghams, a local farming family, and the R&R in its name refers to cousins Robert and Ralph Falkingham, who started out as agricultural merchants more than 100 years ago.
The name changed to R&R Country when the Hemingbrough store opened, and both branches originally catered almost exclusively for the equestrian and pet market. The decision to appeal to a more fashion-savvy customer base wasn’t entirely a conscious one; it was something that happened naturally as the business evolved.
Jasmine Moxon, who manages the website, says: “We realised that people with a horse may have a dog as well and may also like country clothing. We had the husbands of women who shopped here for their horses coming in looking for coats, and then there are the people who come in just a few times a year looking for gifts.
“There’s a real crossover between the horse, pet, country wear and gifts elements, so we stock a wide range of products and our customer base is varied. We tend to have something for everyone. We used to have a ‘snow zone’, which sold ski wear, but this was eventually replaced with more country clothing. We no longer stock ski wear, but we still offer equestrian clothing, supplies and services aimed at our core customer base, including saddle fitting, rug washing, clipper blade sharpening and hat/body protector fitting.”
Jasmine believes that high-end country wear brands, such as Fairfax & Favor, which has proved incredibly popular with customers since R&R began to stock it last year, are becoming increasingly desirable in mainstream fashion circles.
“They’re really aspirational brands. In London, there are people who love these brands and want to wear them but might never have been to the country. You only have to look at the popularity of certain items on Instagram – everyone wants the Schoffel fleece waistcoat for example!”