Stories

What is a wild rag, and why do you need one?

 

A 'wild rag' is basically a scarf, initially worn by American Cowboys or cattlemen whilst working out on the ranges and exposed to harsh sun, wind and dust. The story goes that back in the 1800s, the first versions were cut up feed and flour bags draped around their necks and faces for warmth and to keep dust from entering their noses whilst mustering and droving cattle. Besides protection from the elements, the many uses for wild rags included straining drinking water, use as a bandage, tourniquet or arm sling or hanky. Even a scared horse or beast would often calm down when blindfolded with a wild rag, and they came in handy as a temporary fix for failing saddle rigging or rope replacement.

Today, wild rags are worn not only by Cowboys and Cowgirls, but they have evolved from just being practical neckwear to becoming a fashion accessory. Being worn as elegant headscarves (think Grace Kelly, or, more recently, Anne Hathaway), tied to handbags or hats as hatbands, or used as colourful ponytail ties or belts, and even as stylish bandanas for our dogs, just to name a few. 

In many regions of the US, wild rags are still a standard part of a Western outfit, whether it be for working cattle or after hours. In Australia, these scarves are not widely known as wild rags yet. However, they have become increasingly popular over the last few years, particularly with Western and pleasure riders training and competing in Reigning, Cutting, Ranch Riding, Cowboy Dressage and Equitation. 

More traditional scarves often feature Western themes and can be worn with scarf slides to hold them in place or simply draped around the neck and tied.   

As most of our followers have probably figured out, we are sticklers for quality and always strive to develop our own unique designs. Whilst we love a traditional paisley pattern, we wanted a modern take on it, and we also wanted scarves with Australian inspired motives.

 

Our first collection of TukTuk wild rags featured Australian brumbies, Western Australian Silver Princess Eucalypt blossoms, Southern Australien Desert Peas with their striking colour and shape and our take on modern paisley patterns. These designs are printed on the most beautiful 12 mm silk twill and measure a generous 100 x 100 cm. We are now working on a smaller version swell, more to follow soon..

We have only made limited numbers of some of the prints. They are marked 'Limited Edition' on our website.  Once they are gone, we won't make the exact ones again.

 

Why do we use silk and not the widely used polyester satin for our wild rags?

For most of our garments (waterproof outerwear excluded), we prefer natural fibre products over man-made ones. 

Silk fabric is made from natural fibre produced from the silkworm and has been manufactured for thousands of years; it has built its reputation as a symbol of luxury throughout the ages. 

Satin, on the other hand, is a type of fabric weave. The weave produces a lustrous sheen on one side of the fabric commonly associated with satin. However, "satin" can actually be made using various materials, including polyester, and it is a poor substitute for silk in many ways.  

Some points of comparison:

Softness and Skin Benefits

When you feel a polyester satin fabric, it has a distinctly slippery feel under your fingertips. But while it is slick, it isn't necessarily soft. Pure silk fabric – made from a natural protein – provides both a smooth and silky feel that man-made textiles have not been able to replicate.

Silk reduces friction on our skin and, since pure silk is made from natural silk fibres, the protein filaments make it hypoallergenic and great for sensitive skin. For us here at TukTuk making scarves made from a natural product is the obvious choice since we wear them often next to our skin at the neck and close to our faces.

Temperature Regulation

While neither is a heavy fabric, polyester satin weaves don't adapt to environmental factors like temperature and humidity the way silk does.

Silk is a naturally temperature-regulating fabric that makes it breathable; it's never too hot or too cold in any climate or time of the year.

Price

Polyester satin is synthetic and therefore easier to produce in large quantities. It can be manufactured and easily incorporated into many different products, making this fabric common and inexpensive. 

Silk production is labour intensive and, it is a complex process to manufacture pure silk and have it woven into fabric. It requires careful nurturing of silkworms and handling of the natural fibres. All of this determines the price. Silk will always be more expensive than polyester and a far superior product. 

So, why do you need a silk scarf or wild rag?

We love scarves and, we firmly believe no woman can ever have enough of them. They feel luxurious next to your skin, protect you from the weather, and add colour and personality. And we promise you that you'll never find one of our designs elsewhere, all of them are all unique and hand-drawn in our Beechworth Studio.

Our silk scarves and wild rags will always be exclusive to a small club of women who appreciate these scarves for what they are: an elegant and practical accessory that elevates a stylish equestrian outfit.

Sabine Helsper
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Horse-riding outfit for women 101

Horse-Riding Outfit for Women 101 (all you need to know when you start riding)


You have found the perfect horse, and you are learning how to saddle up and ride. But what about your riding outfit?

When it comes to the riding outfit for our equine-loving friends, there are nowadays so many options are available. Depending on your riding style and the riding discipline you participate in, you may want to follow established clothing conventions or choose to go your own way.
There are so many choices, it can get confusing. Horse riding pants, for instance, may come in low rise and high rise style and, depending on your body shape, may offer you tummy support in and out of the saddle and a flattering outline.
And we, at TukTuk, believe we have some of the best horse-riding pants and waterproof jackets available in the market that offer more than just functionality. We believe that design is crucial, and we strive to design for all facets of the female form.
But before you go all out shopping for your next horse-riding outfit, it helps if you acquaint yourself with the basics.

The Basics
Horse-riding is a great way to get out in the fresh air, excercise and enjoy nature. Leave alone the amazing bond you create with your horse.But even when you have prepared everything ahead for a day of horseback riding, we know that your outfit can make or break your whole riding experience.
A basic horse-riding outfit for women includes riding pants or jeans. You want them to fit well and give you plenty of stretch in the fabric so that getting your foot in the stirrup is easy. Add a comfortable shirt for sun protection, preferably made from natural fibres for comfort out in the heat.
Your boots should have soles with a good grip to prevent your feet from slipping out of the stirrups but not too much to make them a hazard if you need to dismount in a hurry. Depending on the season, a waterproof jacket may also come in handy.

Let's go into detail about each of these outfit pieces below.

Horseback Riding Boots
A durable pair of horse-riding boots is essential for every rider. These boots are purpose-designed to keep your foot safely in the stirrup and usually come with a smooth sole and sturdy toe to keep your feet comfy. Some riding boots, particularly boots for trail riding and endurance, offer a waterproof lining or upper and are designed to cover some miles in if you need to walk in rough terrain or have an injured horse that you need to walk home or back to the float. Dressage riding boots are often long boots that reach up to the knee. Western boots come in various forms and are mostly associate with Western discipline like roping, cutting and reigning.

Riding Helmets
A good helmet is also a must-have for riders, protecting your head from injuries in the event of a fall. There are many styles to choose from, and the riding discipline you follow often determines the type of helmet that suits you and fits in with club rules etc.
Aside from the quality, another thing to consider when wearing a helmet is its fit. It has to fit comfortably. Not too tight because it may become distracting and cause you to lose focus and not too loose either as it may fall forward over your eyes and, in the event of a fall, may lose its effectiveness in protecting you. Exposure to the elements or a fall may degrade the helmet's integrity, making it essential to upgrade them every few years.

Riding Gloves
Your hands need to be protected as well when you are riding out with your equine friend. Purpose made horse-riding gloves protect your hands from extreme weather conditions and might help prevent blisters. Although you can always fall back on an ordinary pair of gloves, just know that they don't offer the support and grip that specialised riding gloves provide.

Riding Pants
Also called riding breeches or jodphurs, riding pants are generally made of fabric with some stretch. Riding pants usually come in a snug fit to prevent loose fabric from bunching up between the rider and the saddle and causing friction and chafing. Some people say the horse feels the rider's movements better, the less material is between the rider and the saddle.
Now to explain the difference between breeches and jodphurs: Both are worn mainly by Engish riders in the disciplines of dressage, showjumping and eventing. Breeches are designed to be worn with tall boots and only reach to above the ankle. Jodphurs are worn with short boots, and they reach down to the top of the boots. Most have an underfoot elastic that keeps the jodhpur from riding up the leg.
Both styles might have parts, like the seat or knee patches made with gripping fabric or a gel pattern to keep the rider securely anchored in the saddle while on the horse. (That point is debatable but needs another blog...).
Riders participating in Western Riding Disciplines like Cutting, Reigning, Cowboy Dressage and Ranch Riding, and Trail Riders often choose traditional jeans as riding pants as part of their riding outfit.

At TukTuk, we have riding pants and jeans that we know you'll love. They are designed by us, specifically for the many variations of the female form and, they are made from four-way-stretch fabric for ultimate comfort.
You may ask, what makes our pants stand out? Apart from the unique design and quality of make, we consider the wearer's comfort a guiding principle. So, they're functional, durable, make you look gorgeous in and out of the saddle, and they are very comfortable!

Riding Jackets and Coats
A horse-riding jacket is essential for a rider's wardrobe, and it is often a part of the uniform for competitive riders. Your riding club will likely have specific requirements for club uniforms, including jackets.

A waterproof horse-riding jacket is an excellent choice for riders of all levels and disciplines in some areas of Australia. It's even better if it is lightweight because tacking up and riding involves a lot of movement and you don't want to be weighted down by your coat or restricted in moving with your horse.
However, if you ride almost every day, you may have to opt for more than one riding jackets. A long riding coat is ideal for the cold and wet seasons and, you can layer jumpers and a t-shirt under it. On the other hand, a short jacket may come in handy if you want warmth for your core but don't need protection for your legs.
If you are in the market for a riding coat, we at TukTuk Australia have you covered. We specialise in full length waterproof riding coats as well as shorter waterproof riding jackets for all seasons. Their design ensures that they are comfortable to wear, don't restrict movement when you're in the saddle and keep you dry and toasty.

Horse-riding is an exciting and fun sport. And it's also fun building a riding wardrobe with practical and stylish pieces of clothing. You know that you're on the right track when your riding pants are so comfortable and good looking that you want to wear them going to the Pub.
For your horse-riding clothing needs, turn to TukTuk. Check our shop section for our range of horse riding clothing pieces designed for the women in our horse riding tribe.

Sabine Helsper
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Well Hello! TukTuk is back end we're having a ball! (2021 update)

 

When we decided in 2019 to bring back the TukTuk Clothing brand, we never imagined we'd be in for such a wild ride. Fast forward to 2021 and her we are, having a ball designing and tweaking the classic TukTuk look. We couldn't wait to bring back our signature range of horse riding clothes. But of course, it never occurred to us that the world would go gaga just when we were in the middle of getting everything going again.

The previous incarnation of TukTuk set the bar very high. It was always going to be a hard act to follow. But we know now for a fact that we have all of you, our gorgeous customer behind us. You must have really wanted this to happen. We've received fantastic feedback and support from you all. 

So here we are again. Despite Covid, lockdowns, chaotic worldwide shipping conditions, and Equitana having been postponed twice. And it was only possible because of the fantastic support we received over the last year. Thank you all from the bottoms of our hearts!

Some things have changed (like we updated our logo and our office/design studio and showroom are now located in Beechworth), but the essential things remain the same.

Our thoughts on design are the same as they've always been. We believe that comfortable and well-considered design is everything. It should help you feel good. Doesn't matter if you're stepping out for a cuppa in town or getting on your horse. We get that our fellow horse-loving and mostly country dwelling women need sturdy gear that can withstand a bit of bush bashing or mucking out. But you want your clothes to be stylish at the same time. In particular when you're showing or competing or taking part in a clinic and also after, at the pub or around the camp fire.

We also understand that we all need to love our clothes enough to want to wear them day after day. 

So, what makes us love them? The way they make us look, the way they feel next to our skin, the ease of movement they allow. It's that unique combination of functionality and form.

We still choose natural fibres where appropriate. Cotton, linen, bamboo and silk for our riding pants and shirts. Why? For comfort and breathability. Often we mix in a little bit of Spandex for that all-important stretch (think getting your foot into your stirrup with ease).

When we're designing, for us, it's not just about creating clothes for horse riders. We're thinking about what the women in our tribe, the horse-riding women who also have a busy life, would love to wear when they are doing all the other things they need to get on with. Would that pair of riding pants also look good and feel good when you're out shopping, dropping off the kids at school or meeting friends at the pub? Can you seamlessly ride your horse in them and then get on with the rest of the day?

And we still follow a straightforward principle in our designs: we build up to quality, not down to price. We will never compete on price because that means we have to compromise on quality. That is our promise.

Yes, it sounds simple, yet it's a tough gig. From first-hand experience, we know how much passion and energy is required to make loveable clothes and then make the whole thing work as a business. You may have heard that the clothing industry can be cut-throat, and the competition is fierce. It is.

Because of this, we still take complete control over everything ourselves. All our designs are created in-house, and then we take those designs straight to our select manufacturers. We choose the best materials, and we make to last. And because there are no middlemen (or middlewomen), we're able to bring you the best possible quality at competitive prices.

A shot behind the scenes in the design studio.

So this year, we've had a bit of fun and added some Western design elements to our riding pants styles 276 and 278. Like cute embroidery on the hem or on the yoke. The aim was not to copy Western riding gear but to add a bit of a 'Wenglish, English Cow Girl' sort of a vibe. Just because we can. And we think it looks adorable. And it seems that a lot of you also love these new styles. 

We have some new designs in mind too. We are in the process of developing three new riding pant styles (and yes, the full suede seat is making a comeback - yay). And also as a waterproof riding poncho (think a modern take on a serape). More accessories and possibly a new take on the classic TukTuk riding vests are also on the drawing board.

And, we are in the early stages of designing a riding skirt (I never thought I'd ever say that). When we posted the first design illustrations of the riding skirt on Facebook, our followers got really excited. That gave us the confidence to pursue this idea further.

 

Illustration of a riding skirt

 

We are also still planning on releasing a collection of premium TukTuk clothing and accessories. Stay tuned on that. Exciting things are happening behind the scenes.   But it will be a little while still until we can reveal more.

In the meantime, we have already released our first limited edition of exquisite silk scarves (or wild rags like our 'cow girl' customers like to call them). And, of course, they are all featuring our own hand-drawn designs. Unfortunately, many of our customers missed out on the first drop, so we are re-thinking how we will offer future editions of these scarves. Possibly by advertising new designs for pre-order before we make them. We'd like to see that everyone who wants a scarf has a chance to put in an order before we make them so as not to miss out again. More on that subject soon.

It feels great to be back. We love hearing from all our previous customers and getting to know all the new ones. The excitement and enthusiasm we are getting from you are invigorating.

If you want to know more about the going ons at TukTuk and get an idea of what happens behind the scenes, please follow our Instagram page @TukTukClothing or TukTuk Clothing on Facebook. And, of course, we always love to see photos of you in your TukTuks. Please keep posting them.

 

Come ride with us. 

Thank you.

Sabine and Cornèlia 

  

Our first photoshoot in May 2020, a couple of month before we launched the new TukTuk website/e-commerce shop.

Sabine Helsper
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Do you prefer a ShowPony or a WorkHorse? (We are talking waterproof winter riding jackets here.)

What would determine your choice of a jacket? We'd guess a) the purpose of use of the jacket and b) your body type?

So let's say you're after a sturdy waterproof jacket, which stands up to yardwork and will keep you cosy when you're standing about for hours on end watching your kids at pony club or the footy. In the freezing rain and the wind blowing a gale. The Winter Excercise Jacket fits that bill. It's cuddly, oversized, tough enough for yard work, built to ride your horse in, wind-stopping, 100% waterproof  (even then seams) and, covers you over the bum.

Waterproof Winter Horse Riding Jacket


This jacket is a workhorse and cut very generously. It's built to handle layers of jumpers, cardies and scarves underneath. Vets and clinicians love this jacket. Also, the colour is really forgiving, and you can't kill the fabric. Get it filthy; just chuck it in the washing machine. It comes with detachable fuzzy-wuzzy on the hood. (We just like saying fuzzy-wuzzy.)
With its roomy fit, it's great for those of us that have been out in the 'Covid' paddock. And also for the ones of us who have a, ahem, generous bust.
And it's great for husbands (men just take up more room in everything, don't they?).


If, on the other hand, you're looking for something stylish for the more elegant among us, go for the Three-in-one Jacket. It's more of a show pony and perfect for going to the shops on a cold day, heading out for a short trail ride when it's a bit chilly, going inside for a coffee and a sticky bun (take the outer shell off). Have a lesson - get a bit warm and take off the outer shell or the inner fleece.

In terms of what body shape it fits: probably a smaller frame with delicate wrists and ankles, smaller shoulders, or lightly muscled (padded) torso.

TukTuk three-in-one waterproof winter riding jacket
The Three-in-one Riding Jacket with the zip-in/zip-out polar fleece consists of four layers (the outer shell = windbreaker, the shell liner, the inner polar fleece and the fleece lining). Worn together, it keeps you warm in winter; worn separately, it'll take you through all seasons. And the outer shell is completely waterproof (unless you fall off a boat, in which case a bit of moisture might get in).
The jacket is warm on its own (we use snowboarding fabrics) but not suitable to stuff under extra layers. It's a slim fit.
Elegant and beautifully made with all the thoughtful TukTuk details we love to add: seam sealing, tons of pockets, detachable hood.

Sabine Helsper
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Where are our riding pants made?

Often, we are asked, "Where are your riding pants made?"
There is no one answer. They are 'made' in several places.

The process is spread over several stages and takes place in as many countries:
1. Research
2. Design
3. Drafting
4. Sampling – several parts to this one
5. Fabric
6. Making

Sure, not everything happens in Australia, but there is always a good reason for that. We'll explain. Get a cuppa; this will take a while...

Design and manufacturing of TukTuk riding pants


Research


This one is easy. We put on some pants (or a jacket, a vest, a shirt, whatever) and get going on a horse. Swim in the river, go up the high country, ride down the beach, sit in the truck for 14 hours straight, stop off at Aldi to buy drinkies on the way home…you know the sort of thing. This is R&D for us. Not too shabby, eh?

 

Design


Step one: here in Beechworth, in our design room on a big table, we sketch the ideas for each garment, working out what we need (the form) versus what we simply want (the function). Often we receive input from our dedicated fan base on social media. Comments like: 'Please make a pair of riding jeans with a phone pocket' or 'Can we have a style of riding pants with a higher waist' and so on. Sometimes we just have a couple of new ideas for a riding pant design that we feel is worth pursuing. Quality of make, originality of design and comfort are our guiding principles.
Sometimes it's simply a feeling, "I LOVE this!" (a colour, a shape, a 'look') that comes from our designer. We then discuss the features of the new riding jeans or riding pants so that they're functional as well as gorgeous and desirable.
Step two: right, we've settled on a concept. Let's get started. Off to the drawing-room we chuff to begin drafting the first pattern (sometimes the first of many). From scratch. Sometimes a new design is based on an existing TukTuk riding pant design which means we can use it as a basic block, which we amend into a new style.

 

 

Design details TukTuk Riding pants

 


Drafting


Lots of technical stuff (finicky, picky, teeny weeny measurements and Bezier curves).
Many sheets of bridal paper, rolls of sticky tape and sharpened pencils later, we make the first toile from calico. Then we repeat, and repeat and repeat, till the form looks right and fits our house model.

Sampling (fiddly stuff, lots of detail)


Our sample machinist (in Yackandandah) makes two versions of our sample. One we keep, the other is sent to our Industrial Pattern maker in Brighton, Victoria, to be finished into a 'make ready' pattern for the factory.
After that, the patterns and our first samples are sent to whichever maker is responsible for that style. They produce a first counter sample from our patterns. We may also test a couple of alternative fabrics at this stage: stretch cord or new deni, or whatever may be a better or different option for this particular style.
Remember, the devil is in the detail, after all. Only once we are really happy with the design and pre-production samples, then we grade the patterns into different sizes. They are not just 'blown up' in a uniform way. There is a complex formula to calculate which bits get bigger and by how much, and which bits don't so much.

 

 

Drafting of TukTuk patterns of riding jeans or riding pants

 

Making

Our riding pants and riding jeans are cut and sewn in India, as they have been since TukTuk began in 1997. In many cases, we are using the same makers as when we started. In a couple of factories, the children of the original owners have now taken over the businesses.

Fabric


Meanwhile, elsewhere in the world, the four-way-stretch fabric is on its way.
TukTuk fabric is woven and dyed to our specifications (95% Cotton+5% Spandex woven as four-way-stretch) in Turkey, India or China.
You may ask why not in Australia? The answer is simple: there are no suitable weavers in Australia anymore.

That's the factual process stuff, but enough of that. It's not only about where our riding pants are made but why we do it this way.

 

 

Final line drawings TukTuk riding jeans style #276

 

To give you a real-life example of how it all comes together. The riding pant style we currently have under development is a hybrid of a couple of previous riding jeans styles. We have added thigh phone pockets but chosen not to go with a zip. Why? We tested both versions and found a zip will not allow any stretch over your thigh - just one example of why we do the things we do instead of just copying what's in the market. We also moved a seam, so there is no inner leg seam. Because our riding pants are purpose constructed for spending many hours in the saddle. We added some gorgeous design details for the hem. Just because we can and because we like a distinct look, rather than a generic, bland one.

 

Final concept drawing TukTuk riding jeans style #276

 


In this case, we used the patterns of previous riding pant styles – we know they fit! We added changes to the original patterns according to the new style specifications, evolving it into a new style.
Before our fabric is woven to our specification, the yarn is dyed to our colours. The dyed yarn is then woven into a four-way stretch fabric.
Dying of fabric is an art. The process comprises a series of steps. First, we select a colour we think might work. Then we get several 'lab dibs' done. After seeing it on the actual cloth and, if we still like it, we finally approve the colour. This can take weeks and sometimes months.

You may ask why we don't source the fabric in Australia. The answer is simple: there are no suitable fabric manufacturers in Australia anymore.

Once the fabric arrives at our manufacturers in India, it is laid out on large cutting tables. The various panels and pieces of cloth that later make the riding pants are cut using our patterns. From there, all the parts are sewn together, trims added, then ironed and packed. There is a rigorous quality control process applied at all stages of making the riding pants.

We work with a couple of Indian manufacturers (and have been working with them since 1997). Over the years and, after trying out many others in India, Turkey and China, we've found that the manufactures we work with meet our high quality and finish standards. They are reliable and are good to work with, and they look after their employees and pay them fair wages.

Could we have our riding pants manufactured in Australia? Most probably. However, they are quite a technical garment to manufacture. Our four-way stretch fabric requires specialized machinery to make and highly skilled machinists.
The higher cost of employment, real estate values, etc. are contributing factors to making manufacturing in Australia costly. Even if we did not apply standard retail margins (which we have to; otherwise, we won't survive), it would make the riding pants come with a hefty price tag. That's just the reality of how the world works - not our choice.

We haven't tested acceptance of a more expensive price tier for "Australian made" in our customer base yet. It would be a risky move. Maybe once we are more established, we'll work up the courage...

Cornelia Selover
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The Horse-Riding Jeans You Have to Have

Horse riding is quite an activity. It requires the rider to be on her best form whenever she’s on the horse. That is why she needs to wear top quality riding jeans. Wearing comfortable and durable jeans can help the rider perform better when riding...
SEO Team
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TukTuk Riding Jeans and Casual Riding Trouser finishing detail

Custom Leg Length now available for Riding Jeans and Casual Riding Pants

Going by the feedback from our lovely customers, one of the biggest bugbears for many seems to be leg length in riding trousers.We get it. Our TukTuk team of two...
Sabine Helsper
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Humans and Horses. A love affair.

Humans and Horses. A love affair.

We have been the custodians of many equine souls – and we have loved each and every one for the simple reason that they are a horse.
We have tried our best to understand and nurture all the personalities, the variety of temperaments, the various physical attributes. 
 
We think we  know you a little bit because we love horses and you love them too. Between us folks at TukTuk, we’re drawing on over 100 years of experience with horses. Collectively, that is. We’re not that old.


Sure, there are many body types, but what we’ve learned from fitting tens of thousands of different shapes since TukTuk started in 1997, is that we know you.

Cornelia Selover
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