Gretchen Hunt and Hunt Ltd. Specializes in Designer Fashions and Accessories And Show Jumper Georgina Bloomberg Shows Us How to Wear It in Style
Story by Lauren R. Giannini
You know what it’s like: show after show, on the road, home, family — maybe you’re still in school, working part- or full-time. You live in your show and barn clothes, but sometimes you want to look really special. What’s a horse-girl to do?
Savvy show riders and shopaholic spectators know they can find the answers to their wardrobe needs at Hunt Ltd. where Gretchen Hunt’s mission is offering designer fashions and accessories along with exceptional customer service for a unique shopping experience.
“That’s Hunt Ltd.’s mantra — we personally shop with and for our ladies,” said Gretchen. “If we don’t have their size or color, we special order it. We keep a record of what they buy each year, every detail. Our priority is to provide our customers with the most positive shopping experiences. Our ladies enjoy putting on something nice, fresh and new after a long day of showing.”
Hunt Ltd. showcases designer merchandise in a tasteful array of components, such as cashmere sweaters, jeans, tops and pants. Fabrics include denim, poplin, linen and leather, to name a few. Accessories include jewelry, handbags, scarves, and even some shoes and hats. Hunt Ltd. reflects Gretchen’s history as an avid amateur hunter rider. She understands the equestrian lifestyle. As for her fashion savvy, she spent 15 years working in product development for major fashion houses such as Anne Klein, Halston, Calvin Klein and Elie Tahari.
“I was a horsey girl and I grew up in Fairfield County, Connecticut,” said Gretchen. “My mother had a women’s sportswear boutique and I started working there when I was 12. I saw how she helped people — it came to me that way. When I was 24, I started working in the fashion industry. I did a lot of traveling and I learned a lot.”
In 2002, the passing of her husband, an avid horseman, provided the incentive for Gretchen to create Hunt Ltd.
“I felt that I needed to start a new life for myself,” said Gretchen. “I knew I had to get back to doing what I loved: fashion and retail. I also wanted to continue to be around horses. So I went to Florida and spent the winter in Wellington riding and recovering from losing my husband. I absolutely loved the concept of being able to shop at horse shows. When I went home to New York, my first retail show was the Old Salem Farm Spring Horse Show. We did a few other shows and ended up opening a little boutique in Florida for the next Winter Equestrian Festival. Hunt Ltd. got serious from there.”
Over the years, Hunt Ltd. has built up a following as it travels the show circuit almost all year-round. The boutique spends the winter in Florida for the Winter Equestrian Festival, then heads north to New York for the Old Salem Farm Spring Horse Show. The summer schedule includes three weeks at Lake Placid, then to the Kentucky Horse Park before finishing up at the Hampton Classic. The boutique kicks off autumn at the American Gold Cup and continues to the indoor shows.
Hunt Ltd. Cover Girl
It was a no-brainer choosing a model for the cover story of Sidelines’ fashion issue. Georgina Bloomberg, longtime customer and friend of Gretchen’s, was pleased to do the honors. She’s a natural in front of the camera, totally at ease showing off her slim elegance in Hunt Ltd. apparel and accessories. Georgina competes on the Grand Prix jumper circuit, both in the U.S. and internationally. After giving birth to her son in December 2013, she’s been busy balancing motherhood with her riding career.
“I love Gretchen’s stuff — the red leather pants were perfect for me — but I love all of it, especially anything from Vince, AG Jeans, White & Warren Cashmere, Veronica Beard and the jewelry at Hunt Ltd.,” said Georgina. “It’s great seeing her and catching up. Gretchen always has very cool clothing — casual but very stylish.”
Georgina got back into the Grand Prix jumper groove after the birth of her son as if she’d never left. Partnered with Gotham Enterprizes, LLC’s Lilli, she made the U.S. Show Jumping team for the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto. Georgina’s also very excited about defending her title as reigning champion when the Rolex Central Park Horse Show returns to the Big Apple, September 24–27. Last year, she partnered with Juvina to win the inaugural $210,000 Central Park Grand Prix, presented by Rolex.
“Things are going great with my riding,” said Georgina. “I always do better after having a little break, physically and mentally. I get burnt out and, whenever I take time out, I just come back so focused. Right now in my life, I have less time for riding and, when I do have time to ride, I’m more inclined to give it my all. I try to make every minute count when I’m with my horses. It’s not just riding — I’m a mother and a rider and those things are the most important in the world to me and the two things I’m most focused on.”
Asked what a rider and mother wears at home, Georgina replied, “I like to dress up and take advantage of not being in riding clothing, but now that I’m a mother I have a lot less time to worry about putting outfits together so I’ve become a lot more relaxed about what I wear. I usually wake up and put on workout gear because then I’m more likely to go to the gym. At some point I’ll change, usually to casual. I like sneakers and boots that are comfortable to walk in.”
At shows, Georgina wears Samshield helmets and clothing by Ariat and Triple Crown Custom, which just bought Alessandro Albanese. “I love Ariat’s breeches,” she said. “Breeches are very personal. They have to be the right shape and the right style. They fit me well and they’re comfortable. I love the fact that Ariat wanted to create a brand that really works for a woman’s body. Ariat’s founders had worked with Reebok and applied the idea and technology of a sneaker’s comfort to the design of their riding boot. I can walk around all day in my Ariat boots and feel comfortable.
“I also really appreciate Der Dau Custom Boots Company for what they do for my The Rider’s Closet,” continued Georgina. “If people trade in their Der Dau boots, they get a certificate of credit [based on appraised value] toward their next new pair. Then, the used boots get fixed and spruced up by Der Dau’s craftsmen and donated to The Rider’s Closet.”
What Goes Around
Fashion and philanthropy seem to go well together on the show circuit. Georgina founded The Rider’s Closet in 2006 to gather donations of used riding clothes and boots, which are distributed to therapeutic riding programs, pony clubs, intercollegiate riding programs and individuals in need. The Rider’s Closet has grown so much that it’s handled by Pegasus Therapeutic Riding.
Gretchen serves on the committee of the Wellington Equestrian Group to benefit the Caridad Center of Palm Beach County. She’s also a patron of several charitable organizations including the Society of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Center and the Community Clothes Charity.
Each year, Gretchen plans her calendar carefully, picking the best shows for Hunt Ltd., but it isn’t just about selling fashions. She’s also into giving.
“Through the boutique, my friend/manager Ginny Beckwirth Green and I support the sport by giving prize money and gift certificates,” said Gretchen. “Hunt Ltd. sponsors the 36 & Over Amateur-Owner division at WEF, Old Salem, Lake Placid, Hampton Classic and the National. I really enjoy being able to give back to the sport. We’re looking forward to adding the Tryon fall series to our itinerary. The launch of our online presence inspired me to grow Hunt Ltd.’s reach and expand accessibility to the equestrian lifestyle. It’s all very exciting.”