Last month in Cologne in western Germany, almost 39,000 visitors from more than 100 countries around the world gathered together for a common purpose: to view the year’s best sustainable products and innovations created by some of the most brilliant minds in the world. Among the honorees at the SPOGA + GAFA trade fair this year were a system of unique hanging garden bags, a luxurious Swiss ‘wellness park’, and—you might not guess this one—a well-known equestrian fashion label.

AA (Alessandro Albanese) is recognizable for its elegant, tailored apparel and the use of intelligent fabrics in its show clothing designs. But at SPOGA, its 2018 Spring/Summer collection received an Innovation Award for an entirely different reason: its latest eco-friendly initiative. We caught up with AA Performance Apparel Designer Nicola to learn more.

Why was it important for AA to embrace renewably sourced fibers in your designs?

We are privileged to have such a beautiful planet and to be part of a great sport which allows us to enjoy it. As equestrian athletes take their place in the saddle, they are constantly relying on the elements to provide a suitable competition environment or a scenic exercise facility, and even the fuel they feed their horses. It is our responsibility to respect the planet and preserve it so that we can all continue to live in this special equestrian world.

Your innovation award was for the use of the DuPont™ Sonora® textile, which is renewably sourced from 37 percent plant-based materials. What else can you tell us about it? 

DuPont™ are pioneers in bio-technology, focusing on environmentally friendly projects, and Sorona® can be used in many forms. In our AA Platinum Winter 2017 collection, for example, we have used the Sorona® Insulation fill in our Lugano long coat, which is perfect for the winter elements, and the trans-seasonal essential Potenza padded jacket.

For our Spring/Summer collections, we use a Sorona® Triexta and Bamboo fabric composition for lightweight, breathable, and luxurious T-shirts and tops for schooling. One of these is the Sadara striped crew, which is a fantastic alternative to a traditional wool sweater worn over your competition shirt in the warmer climates. These are styles that you will see again for the Spring/Summer 2018 collection, which will launch in January at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Florida.

Not only are Sorona® fibers made from renewable sources, but the energy used in the process of making the fiber is lower than its commonplace counterparts—and so, too, is the volume of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere.

What benefits do these fabrics offer to the competitive rider?

Using this fill in our jackets not only allows the rider’s conscience to be free, it also provides many benefits. The resistance to humidity is really important. As the elements fluctuate in temperature and humidity, so does a rider’s body, and the Sorona® fill resists the absorption of humidity and allows it to escape whilst retaining the heat and regulating body temperature.

This also means that the pieces are quick-drying for those riders who are busy and constantly on the go. The shape recovery of the Sorona® fill is another benefit for those traveling a lot, allowing them to arrive and look on point when they hit the ground running.

Does AA have any plans to expand its eco-friendly designs in the future? 

Absolutely. New technologies and fabrics are being developed all the time, and as the sport evolves, so do we.

-Photos courtesy of AA.