Hugely respected figure forged business partnerships around the world.

Colin Gorringe, the founder of Gorringe Sportswear - the Walsall based equestrian clothing manufacturer - died on 9 June. He was 96.

Colin himself was a well-known figure across the equestrian industry in the UK as well as overseas.

Colin Gorringe, who founded the famous Gorringe Sportswear label, took British equestrian riding clothing around the world.

He was originally a professional tailor for a clothing manufacturer in Ipswich, Suffolk. Part of that company’s range was riding clothing.  

Colin quickly spotted an opportunity to specialise and, after a move to the West Midlands, he founded Gorringe Sportswear in 1967. In the early days, he did most of the cutting on his dining-room table at home while his wife Patricia did the books. 

In 1974, along with Tony O’Connor as company secretary, Gorringe Sportswear became a limited company. Colin’s son Richard joined them in 1981. 

Specialising in jodhpurs and breeches

Colin travelled on business extensively, visiting clients throughout the UK and internationally.

He specialised in the manufacture of riding leg-wear, often under clients’ own brand names. Thus, he became a key supplier to many famous UK riding equipment retailers.

Colin and Richard built Gorringe Sportswear into one of the largest manufacturers of riding breeches and jodhpurs in Britain. 

During the 1990s came the rise of cheaper brands of riding leg-wear onto the market. Gorringe responded by starting a new company called Ridingwear (Walsall) Limited.

At their height, the two companies between them sold between 70,000 and 100,000 pairs of jodhpurs and breeches each year, plus a range of riding jackets.

Supporting the trade

Gorringe Sportswear was one of the original trade members of the British Equestrian Trade Association (BETA), with Colin personally being a strong supporter of its work. 

He was a regular attendee at the early travelling trade fairs and what became BETA International at Doncaster and Sandown Park Racecourses and the NEC, Birmingham.

Colin also attended Spoga in Cologne and was a familiar face at other trade shows in the Middle East and North America.

Golf, bowls and racehorses

Colin was a keen golfer and, in later years, he played bowls. 

Although he didn’t have a horsey background, he and Richard occasionally owned racehorses which ran under the company’s colours.

“Colin was well-known and respected throughout the UK equestrian industry,” says Mike Williams, former sales director at E. Jeffries.

“For my part, Colin and I were very good friends over many years. 

“We were joint suppliers to Colin Missenden at Harrods’ riding department in London from its beginning. 

“Under Colin’s watch, Gorringe Sportswear also supplied breeches to the Royal Family, The Royal Mews, the Mounted Regiments and the Mounted Police in London.”  

Colin and Richard sold the business in 2009 when Colin retired aged 80.

“Colin Gorringe was an extremely popular and respected figure in the British equestrian Industry over many years,” added Mike.

“He was also wonderful company. He will be very sadly missed indeed.”

  • With thanks to Mike Williams.