Friday Fox - horse blanket manufacturer expand into interior design and fashion

Horse blanket square

Horse blanket square - Credit: Archant

Overseas royalty and fashion designers have fallen in love with a not so humble Lancashire horse blanket made on the moors above Darwen.

Iain Asher with Tank the dog and a selection of styles of horse blankets

Iain Asher with Tank the dog and a selection of styles of horse blankets - Credit: Archant

It’s not often that a horse blanket manufacturer is admitted to the rarefied worlds of luxury interior design and high fashion but, when that manufacturer supplies clients such as the royal family of Bahrain, maybe it’s not that surprising.

The Lancashire family firm Friday Fox was founded ten years ago by keen horseman, Iain Asher, who has ridden for over 30 years and lives his life still surrounded by horses and dogs.

Today, he and his small team send their hand made English horse blankets and stylish dog coats out from their farm, high on the moors above Darwen, to many corners of the world including Scandinavia, America and Japan. Iain’s blankets not only find homes with royalty and the British aristocracy, they also grace the stables of Cheltenham Gold Cup and Grand National winners, as well as equestrian legends such as Markus Beerbaum.

The Friday Fox range, which also includes clothes, bags and accessories are all made with a mixture of English blanket wool, wool Tweed, moleskin – a soft, warm cotton cloth which doesn’t include actual moles – traditional wax cotton and Scottish stag antler gathered by shepherds and gillies.

Friday Fox becomes a frock at London Fashion Weeek

Friday Fox becomes a frock at London Fashion Weeek - Credit: Archant

‘I think people like the fact that we make heritage English blankets, sourcing most materials from the area and it’s nice to think that Lancashire textiles still have a world-wide fan base,’ he said.

‘We use traditional methods and then the cloth is laid out, marked up with tailor’s chalk and hand cut, before being carefully sewn together. We make various styles but some clients like to commission style points that make their blankets unique, such as different base colours or edging.’

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Iain called his firm Friday Fox, as Friday will always be the happiest day of the week and the fox is a symbol of the countryside. Besides, the alliteration worked well.

He liked his blankets so much that he decided to wear some offcuts as a bodywarmer but not any old bodywarmer – one of his staff had trained as a costumier and, before dressing Iain, had dressed Hollywood stars such as Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman.

‘Sadly and surprisingly, my sartorial sense didn’t lead to a call from Hollywood but it did result in a flurry of enquiries by people who wanted one for themselves and so I found myself to be a style icon which was very unexpected but very nice!

‘They are hugely popular, although realistically, I think it is more to do with the tailoring than my modelling,’ laughs Iain, who now also offers matching earwarmers and scarves.

It’s not the only brush with fashion the blankets have had. They have also featured on the catwalk at last year’s London Fashion Week. ‘That was exciting. The design house, Teatum Jones, wanted to use their show to pay homage to the para-equestrian, Natasha Baker, and so had the idea of fashioning clothes from our horse blankets. They made a Florence skirt and a Duke of Crombie coat in navy with egg grey fringing and it went down a storm, bringing us to a new audience of fashionistas,’ says Iain who wasn’t asked to model by any of them.

Another unexpected market that opened up was that of interior design. It began when the designer of a boutique hotel in London felt that a Friday Fox blanket draped across the bed would add a touch of quintessential Englishness for guests, as well as being just the thing for crisp winter nights.

Others followed and they can now be found in a selection of hotels across the UK and private clients often buy them to be used as throws and human blankets.

‘Yes, it’s reached a stage now where not only do people send us images of their horses wearing their Friday Fox blankets, they send in all pictures of all the family wearing theirs,’ says Iain.