To purchase Dy'on is to bathe in milk and dry yourself off with a golden towel, at least right now anyway... in short Dy'on are currently the hottest leather goods brand in the world with people falling over themselves to clad their beloved in their glorious products.
We wanted to pay homage to a brand that we here at Just Riding love so much and our customers seem to love even more. By digitizing this wonderful article written by Kathy Carter.
From a simple product idea from a blacksmith, to worldwide product distribution – why equestrian equipment manufacturer Dy’on continues to stay at the top of its game. Belgium-based riding equipment manufacturer Dy’on SPRL began life over twenty years ago, in 1990.
It's founder, still the owner and main product designer at the company, started the self-titled brand in Namur in the south of Belgium, where the majority of the organisation’s production is still based. Philippe Dion was a blacksmith by trade, and a well-known show jumping rider at national level. One day, Philippe wanted to buy a pair of full length chaps, but couldn’t find any that were convenient to him in Namur; so he decided to make his own, along with his auntie Evelyne Van Dijck, a former tailor and sewing teacher. The first pair of famous Dy’on chaps had been created.
Spreading the Word
Philippe proudly wore his new chaps at the shows he was competing at, and the word began to spread – he was soon taking orders from friends for bespoke chaps, again making them with the talented Evelyne. Demand increased across Belgium so quickly that Philippe decided to setup a workshop in Namur.
Dy’on SPRL was officially launched, and ariding equipment empire was born. “We started manufacturing both full length and half chaps at this time, and I would go out and sell them exclusively in Dy'on stands in shows all around Europe,” Philippe recalls. “We specialised in custom made products, and offered fringes, detailing and piping on the full chaps. We and began distributing into retail shops as well the same year, although the main market was still at the shows.”
As Philippe Dion was traveling to the biggest shows in Europe, he was in contact with the world’s leading riders on the show jumping circuit at this time, from John Whitaker and Ludo Phillipaerts to Nelson Pessoa and Philippe Rozier. Philippe liaised closely with many of the riders in terms of their needs, and started to work in ever-closer collaboration with them and their grooms. “The development of most of the Dy’on products that we created was based on their requests and remarks, and also their constructive feedback,”Philippe says. “These products were tested at the highest levels, so we knew they were functional and fit for purpose - we always appreciated the feedback from such elite riders, and continue to do so today, with our roster of sponsored riders.”
Here Comes the Bridle
The company continued to grow, and in 1992, Philippe launched the first Dy’on bridlework line, made in England. It boasted classic lines, fine detailing and the company’s striking cream stitching, as well as stainless steel buckles – all marks of quality. The range quickly became popular with the show jumping elite. However, rising production costs meant that within six years, Philippe was faced with a dilemma – should he keep production within the UK, or move it elsewhere, to help keep the retail prices down?
As he could not find a solution to maintain cost-effective, high quality leather, in 1998 Philippe decided to stop producing Dy’on bridlework altogether. However, two years later in 2000, at the BETA International Trade Fair, Philippe was introduced to an Indian manufacturer who Philippe asked to make a bridle sample. When he received the sample, Philippe was so impressed by its quality that he decided to go to India to set up a workshop, and teach and train a team of workers dedicated to the high quality Dy’on ethos. Bridle production resumed that year, and Philippe is still very proud of the quality leatherwork provided – he regularly receives requests from the leading bridle wear brands to manufacture goods for them. “We have created a close collaboration with skilled leatherwork manufacturers in India,” Philippe explains. “We are creating articles of a high quality, but are keeping the costs more reasonable – unfortunately it wasn’t possible to keep production in Europe, and maintain reasonable costs.
All bridlework items manufactured by us are under full control of our reliable, local staff. The Dy’on philosophy was, and continues to be, the constant quest for perfection and innovation. The Dy’on trademark is a guaranteed label of satisfaction, and of this we are immensely proud,” Philippe adds.
Creation and Craftsmanship
By 2004, Philippe had launched the industry’s first off-the-peg, standard half chaps. The ‘Classic’ line, produced in the company’s Belgian workshop, featured a smart, full-grained leather chap with a back zip closing from bottom to top, and a zipper on the elastic strip for a perfect fit; no matter what the rider’s leg shape These were designed to provide aunique ‘second skin’ fit and feel,for increased sensitivity and communication with the horse, aswell as all-important leg support.“From the beginning, we made sure that each Dy’on product wasinnovate and perfectly manufactured; the creation, craftsmanship, quality of the materials and customer service have been the first four rules of the company since we began, and continue to be of utmost importance,” Philippe adds.
A Worldwide Network
In 2007, Dy’on added a third mainline of products, which includedquality horse rugs in poly-cottonand wool. Accessories such as stall guards, wraps and bags followed, all in tough, durable textiles. Today’s range also includes all manner of leather accessories, from head collars to horse boots, and the company has a 12-strong workforce to manage production and supply.
For almost ten years now, the company has worked with a network of wholesalers. Philippe maintained the ethos of top quality leatherwear and quality products, creating ranges that would last the test of time, and were renowned throughout the industry. “We now sell almost worldwide, mainly to wholesalers that distribute to regional tack shops,” Philippe says. “We are distributed by companies that recognise our expertise and know the market – they include HorseFitform International in Belgium and France; Equality Line in Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark; Equine Industry in Holland, Germany, Austria and Switzerland; Running Fox in the USA and Canada, and Elite Horse in the Middle East. We pretty much have all corners of the globe covered,” Philippe modestly says.
Inspiring other Product Lines
So, with such an impressive network in place, what is the range’s differentiating factor - what sets Dy’on apart from its competitors? The equestrian equipment industry has obviously grown massively in the last twenty years, with any decent product line being replicated by competitors that see the benefits of a range or item, or want to see a similar return on investment. “Product copying of course takes place. Certainly in the market of the half chaps, many brands have been largely inspired by our models - but we are still the only company manufacturing such high-quality products, with quality guarantees, in Belgium,” Philip says. “Apart from our choice of the best material, our unique selling point is that we form close relationships with the main players of our sport – our products are used at the highest levels, and are designed to fit the needs of elite horses and their riders. Plus, every product is still designed by me, rather than someone that is not a rider, and isn’t actively involved in the industry. I know what riders want,” Philippe explains.
True Retail Values
Few companies within the equestrian sector have been unaffected by the economic climate, which continues to disseminate across the world. “But
we believe that in this crisis time, customers are coming back to true retail values,” Philippe states. “They wish to have quality products, and to own timeless and trustworthy items that will last. Yes, there are cheaper products on the market, but will they last as long, and be such an investment purchase as ours? For most of our clients, horse riding is a priceless pleasure, and they want to enjoy their equipment as much as their riding time. This is especially the case when life is tough. So providing them the most beautiful, durable and well-performing equipment at a reasonable, fair price is Dy’on’s priority. We also focus on a great after-sale service - any repairs or replacements are carried out if needed, and it is points like these that make the difference, and ensure our continued success in this uncertain economic climate.”
Quarter Century Anniversary
With the company’s quarter century anniversary approaching, what is Phillipe’s plan for the future? “We plan to increase our sales in Holland, Germany, USA and Canada, and also Asian countries like China and Japan,” he explains. “We are already present in these countries, but need to get bigger and stronger there. We will continue to develop one or two new products each year, which we usually present at the Spoga International Trade Fair for Equestrian Sports in Cologne - we have a booth there every February and September, and find that it is a great opportunity to showcase our latest products to the wider trade marketplace. We are also always on the look-out for ways to innovate existing products – a good example is our anatomic bridle, which features a head piece that starts back at the nape of the neck, and features a crossed throat piece. This has absolutely no poll pressure at all, and is winning accolades from riders of horses that are head-shy, sensitive to poll pressure, or have large or sensitive ears. For dressage riders especially, it allows the horse to soften and perform comfortably.
We will keep on doing our best to be at the highest level in the equestrian market, and to satisfy our actual clients – that is what it is all about, after all – keeping our customers happy, and keeping their horses happy,” Philippe concludes.
We wanted to add that currently Dy'on is a brand that is outselling its rivals, the Hackamore and Anatomic Bridles by Dy'on receive 5* after 5* reviews from our customers and we are delighted to have these and all other Dy'on products showcased on Justriding.com It is true premium equestrian brands like this that define our business as "The Premium Equestrian Store"