© 2004-2012 Horse Tack Review
Charles Owen GR8 Hat
English Apparel Product Spotlight
The New GR8 hat (As worn by Sophie Broome, Pony European Team Gold medalist and individual Bronze, and Natasha Sewell. Also Anne Kursinski, USA) from Charles Owen is at the cutting edge of Equestrian Fashion. The low profile helmet is covered with a microfibre suede material and is available in a variety of colours and colour combinations. There is a combination to suit all skin and hair colourings - and wardrobes. The ultimate in accessorising for the fashion conscious rider.
The surface material has been treated to afford it protection against marking and scuffing. A water repellent cover will also be available for winter wear.
The brim is gently rounded to flatter the face, and a press stamped metallic logo is positioned centrally above the peak. Another embroidered logo features on the back of the helmet where a ribbon would traditionally be.
The Harness is co-ordinated to the specific colours within the range to give a complete finished look and reinforced with nylon for additional strength, safety and security.
The supersoft headband inside the hat is grey to tone in with the soft colour options that are available.
Colours available: Black/Charcoal, Black/Silver, Navy/Silver and Lilac/Baby Blue
Available in sizes 6 1/2 - 7 3/4
Kitemarked to PAS015. And now certified by SEI to ASTM F1163
The History of Charles Owen
Established in 1911 by the eponymous Charles Owen himself, the company's first product was pith helmets for the army. It wasn't long before the company diversified into helmets for motorcycle racing. It was not until 1957 when a family member started riding that Charles Owen made its first riding helmet. The resulting prototype so impressed the riding schools that the future direction of the company became clear.
Originally based in East London, it became clear that to meet demand the company would have to move outside of the London area. By 1992, Charles Owen had closed its London operations and the headquarters were now based in Wrexham in North Wales. On the company's 90th anniversary, the company expanded into a £1.5m purpose built factory at Croesfoel, Wrexham, and the workforce has now grown to over 80.
With the introduction of a new range of high performance equestrian helmets, came the opportunity of supplying North America. With the wave of interest from top trainers and riders, it was necessary in 2002 to open a new sales office and warehouse to service North America and Canada. With its partner distributors in Ireland, Scandinavia, Germany Italy and Australia, Charles Owen helmets are available all around the world.
The business is still family owned and run by Roy Burek, the Grandson of the founder, however this was not always his intention. He had originally joined Proctor and Gamble on a management training scheme after leaving Oxford university with a Chemistry degree. Roy changed his mind when his father who was approaching retirement age put the business up for sale.
“Running your own business was never going to be an easy option. Knowing that what you do can save lives makes up for all the hard work.”
Today the business is focused on supplying the best quality products for the equestrian athlete. Safety is always a top priority in the design and manufacture of our hats. The secret has been to combine the highest level of safety with style and aesthetic good looks. Too often brands out source the control of the production to third party offshore manufacture. Charles Owen has invested in state of the art manufacturing facilities in North Wales which are rigourously inspected by both SEI and BSI. Combining the rigours of in process quality control with frequent independant testing guarantees every rider a first quality product everytime.
It was a natural progression to start manufacturing Body Protectors, once national standards were in place. In the beginning many body protector brands were manufactured by small companies. With Charles Owen, riders can now expect products that are now being made to the same exacting standards of quality as their helmet. Charles Owen is very proud to work with other top quality International brands. In recent years we have teamed up with the specialist glove manufacturer from Germany, Roeckl Handschuhe GmbH and Company, and the specialist riding footwear manufacturer from Italy, Sergio Grasso.
“By specialising in making High Quality items, we have found the key to success”, said managing director, Mr Roy Burek. “We are an integral part of the growing sport and pastime of horse riding. We design our own products and we help to set the international safety standards. We are continually researching riding accidents, and most importantly we speak to the actual riders themselves, juniors and seniors both riding at local and international level”.