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Fashion Focus: An Interview with Timmy Sharma
Timmy Sharma, owner of JPC Equestrian, the world’s largest manufacturer of equestrian apparel and equipment. The JPC Equestrian brands were some of the first that we put up on Equestrian Collections and TuffRider and Equine Couture are always two of our top-selling brands.
EC: Timmy, horses seem to have always played a pivotal role in your life – can you tell us when you first started to ride?
Timmy Sharma: My brother and I started riding on Indian Army horses when I was 10 years old. We stopped riding a year later when my brother had a fall. Despite this interruption, I always held a deep love and fascination for horses and took up the opportunity to ride wherever we went on family vacations. I took up riding again when I lived in New York and have never looked back. This took me in the direction of polo when I moved to India in 1990.
EC: Does it seem strange to you that there are so few male riders in the US compared as a percentage, with other countries?
Timmy Sharma: That is just the way it is. Riding is a way of life in some countries and the US is a little different. I have concluded that it is a cultural issue and varies by country. However, having said that, I am always surprised to see the high percentage of men riders in the higher levels of jumpers and hunters.
EC: You are an International Polo player – how does your highly active equestrian lifestyle help you in deciding what to bring to the US and European markets?
Timmy Sharma: Polo keeps me close to horses and as it is a passport to travel the world. The sport is surprisingly small in number of players and there is a big culture of reciprocity among polo players. There is a lot of travel by polo countries between countries and this is a good way to keep abreast of developments the world-over.
Also there are usually other disciplines of riding found near polo centers. It is possible to see what is used by riders in most disciplines in other countries.
EC: What products does JPC Equestrian have for the male rider?
Timmy Sharma: One of our best selling breeches is the men’s Patrol breech. This is a 4 pocket breech that we introduced over a decade back in a cavalry twill fabric and continues to be a great seller. We have one of the largest selection of men’s breeches in any brand and currently offer 10 breeches in different fabrics and styles. All the breeches are personally tested by me before they are introduced and this always helps to identify areas of improvement.
In addition, we have added polo jeans, tall boots, paddock boots and will soon introduce a show coat and competition shirt for men.
EC: Do you find that these products sell better through tack stores, mobile units or from Equestrian Internet sites?
Timmy Sharma: Frankly it is hard to tell anymoe with the developing multi channel distribution channels. Our largest customer of men’s breeches has a catalog, internet and retail store presence.
EC: You are the only equestrian manufacturer that has complete vertical integration – from design, fabric manufacture, product manufacture and distribution. What does that mean to the American rider who buys your products?
Timmy Sharma: This puts us in a position to offer products that are best value for money and to create an ever evolving range of products. We have the ability to bring to the market new products in small quantities and can scale up production in case of a great demand. We are not hesitant about offering new products. We are particularly excited about our ability to see trends and fashions in other sports and to be able to adapt them to equestrian requirements.
Recently we were on a family skiing vacation to Park City, Utah where my wife Laurie found some really interesting fleece jackets. We are already exploring how to make this fabric in our factory in India and to try to introduce this new product at the August AETA trade show.
Also customers can expect to have our products available through our dealers at most times because of our stock levels and logistics support that we offer customers.
EC: Finally, you work closely with the Winter Circuit down in Florida. What trends did you see there this year that you will be picking up for the Fall and Spring 2013? I am particularly thinking about the Euro styled jackets that have been taking the West Coast by storm that has migrated from the Jumper Ring to the Hunter Ring.
Timmy Sharma: We are blessed to be living in a purpose built town for equine enthusiasts. Wellington hosts the Winter Equestrian Festival (JPC Equestrian is the official apparel sponsor of this event) where over 4,000 horses compete over 3 months. We are in the backyard of the biggest horse show in the world and this location advantage gives us the opportunity to see the new and popular trends for the riders and horses.
Based on some of the new demands, we have created several new products. We will be introducing new breeches with a knee patch with a special grip and reinforced seat, a new bonded fabric show coat, new sporty moisture wicking competition shirts and waterproof breathable competition show coat that performs like a jacket.
We are constantly looking for high-end products that are used by world class riders and bring these to affordable levels for the everyday rider. There is no reason why benefits of new designs and tech
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