Couture Goes to the Dogs

It seems that what starts out on the fashion runways in London, New York, Paris and Rome is trickling down to the sidewalks of trendy areas like South Beach in Miami, Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles and wherever else the nation’s dog lovers strut their mutts.


Yip yap. Haute couture has gone canine and its no trade secret that pet fashion designers are pawing at ideas from high profile fashion icons like Donatella Versace, Dolce and Gabbana, Marc Jacobs, Betsy Johnson and Stella McCartney.

As a result, it’s given birth to a new Mommy and Me syndrome: People used to team up fashion ideas with their kids. Now it’s all about fur kids and for serious fashionistas, how you dress your dog is a fashion statement that directly reflects back to the person on the other end of the leash.

While couturiers work on fashion ideas seasons ahead and with the help of forecasters and other in-house trade gurus spread the word, pet fashion designers have to work within a much shorter time frame in order to get their designs out to coincide with the look du jour.

“In order to pick-up on the human fashion trends we have only a couple of months in which to design, manufacture and get it out there in the stores,” says JC Ynostroza, chief designer for Gooby Pet Fashion in Los Angeles, California. “The challenge is not only meeting the seasonal timeframe the fashions dictate but also to ensure that the garments are comfortable and fit extremely well for pet wearers. At the end of the day, if the fit is wrong, who cares if the style is right.”

Many retailers say that they rely totally on what the manufacturers exhibit at pet and gift trade shows, as well as fashion-orientated pet magazines like Modern Dog to set the trends.

Houses like Gooby Pet Fashion take it a step further by producing two catalogues mailed bi-annually to retailers both countrywide and internationally, depicting their spring/summer and fall/ winter ranges.

“It’s a matter of putting it on a plate for retailers,” explains Ynostroza. “Our one book is a view-only magazine layout with high fashion photographs and editorial outlining the trends and accessories for the season. The second book takes it a step further detailing the fabrics used along with order forms. We make it that simple.”

High-end pet fashions still focus primarily on a doggy clientele although the word it out that the odd ferret and pot-bellied pig is also starting to dressing up. Retailers say that their businesses copycat human fashion boutiques and that as they create a reputation for themselves for stocking trendy pet couture, designers are seeking them out directly.

“This is very much the case when it comes to the more exclusive and high end ranges,” says Dana Ujobagy of the Paw Palace in Red Bank, New Jersey. We have a young trendy clientele and their dogs are their babies. Consequently, they buy a lot of clothes and are constantly looking for unique designer outfits for both day and evening wear.

“ I follow the fashion trends closely so that when designers present ranges, I am able to automatically see who is on the mark.”

Some stores like Trixie and Peanut in New York have gone totally haute couture and in attempt to be original, are even having outfits made exclusively for them, sometimes even with their own label. And, as competition gets fiercer, they are reluctant to share their ideas for fear of becoming causalities of the fashion rip-off industry.

So, the question is: “What’s hot for this summer?”

Pink and lilac and lime green are prominent colors incorporating polka dots and floral designs along with sequined and faux diamond appliqués in the shape of hearts, butterflies and cosmic stars.

“The silhouettes for evening wear have changed,” says Robyn Jill Jacobs of Fairytail Couture. “Fuller skirts and longer lengths are very much en vogue.”

Many designers have produced a frothy formal look closely resembling ball gowns with lots of chiffon, silk ribbons and sequined bodices.

The “rumba look”, according to Stephanie Bell of Fancy Furs, inspired by the TV series Dancing With the Stars is also going to be popular.

While the pastel shades predominate, electric blue promises also promises to be a popular color, as it looks good on all canine fur coats.

Making a strong fashion statement this summer is swimwear.

“The poolside look features bikinis in pink and board shorts with a scull design,” says Lara Alameddine of Little Lily Inc.”

It’s going to be a very popular trend amongst celebrity dogs predicts Alameddine. And as pool pawties and beach pawties gain popularity around the country, no doubt others with sniff it out and follow.

Also making a grand entrance this summer are hats. Everything from frothy bonnets and collegiate wear to more formal pillboxes with little veils inspired by former First Lady Jackie Kennedy back in the Sixties.

This endorses the retro vintage look that will also add different outfits to the canine fashionistas closet.

“Ripped denim jackets, a distressed look and vintage fabrics are part of the high end retro look that will also be a strong feature this coming season,” says Katina Mims of Couture de Pooch in St. Louis Missouri.”

“Basically you can sum it up by saying that this summer’s fashion is going to be dominated by anything that expresses the ‘Wow factor’.”

That covers what’s new. Now, it’s a matter of what’s left?

Hello… Lingerie of course!

Newcomer to the pet fashion playing field Kim Piece of Poochie Koochie in Huntington Beach, California is making her debut with a range of pet lingerie featuring lacy bra and panty sets. Whether this look will make it out on to the sidewalks remains to be seen.


The fashion spotlight will focus on New York this August with the launch of the first ever Pet Fashion Week. This trade event will mimic the fashion runway shows of New York, London, Paris, and Milan, and provide a platform for the country’s top pet designers to introduce their creativity. It will be partly open to the public and the organizers hope to draw pet trade professionals, international buyers as well as the media and VIPS.

Seasoned fashion industry professionals Alexa Cache and Mario DiFante, the tour de force behind the event, plan to stage several runway shows showcasing everything from haute couture to avant-garde and street wear fashions.

“So far, we have received conceptual sketches from participating designers and the outcome is nothing short of spectacular,” says Cache.

There will also be a Design Award runway show presenting the work of students from major fashion universities. The students will be competing for awards acknowledging their unique approach to pet fashions and accessories.

“With the Pet Fashion Week design awards, we hope to give Pet Fashion Week a fashion festival feel, raise the bar of what’s out there and hopefully fuel new product development,” explains Cache.

There will also be an exhibit hall showcasing the crème de la crème of the high end industry. Information about the event and how to register can be found on their website at

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