It’s taken less than a year for Boobie Billie to emerge as fashion’s newest “It” girl. Confident and photogenic with a great sense of humor in her Instagram posts, she’s a chameleon when it comes to style and doesn’t shy away from playful experimentation and head-turning looks. Her recent quarantine outfits have included pieces from Prada, Carolina Herrera and Nike.
Oh, by the way, Boobie is a dog.
Whether the designer fashions Boobie dons are real or Photoshopped, dogwear is, in fact, a real and fast-growing market. In recent years, designers such as Thom Browne and Donatella Versace have expanded into the category, often photographing their respective pups Hector and Audrey in promotional marketing material.
Dogs are no stranger to the fashion week circuit, either, recently appearing on the Baja East and Lela Rose runway shows, and in Monse’s pre-fall 2019 lookbook, where designers Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia introduced dog sweaters and accessories with preppy chic undertones.
In the past two years, retailers such as Ssense, Browns and The Webster have taken note of the rise in designer dog apparel and accessories, launching dedicated pet shopping sections online.
Last December, Browns introduced the category with an in-store “Pet Palace” at its East London store, while Ssense debuted during this period with the likes of Burberry and Heron Preston after seeing increased social engagement whenever the retailer made posts with the hashtag #SSENSEInterns (their employees’ dogs all dressed up).
Increasingly, as dogs are viewed as extensions of their owners, the brands that perform well in ready-to-wear are also performing well in dogwear styles.
“There’s a growing interest for customers to reflect their own individual style and match it with their dog’s through clothing,” said Brigitte Chartrand, vice president of women’s wear buying at Ssense, which counts Marine Serre, Paul Smith and Ashley Williams among some of its exclusive offerings.
Laure Heriard Dubreuil, founder and creative director of The Webster, echoed that sentiment: “We have found that owners gravitate towards a product that resembles their purchases for themselves. The saying that dogs resemble their owners is even more apparent when apparel and accessories are added to the equation. Dogs are an extension of an owner’s self-expression.”
The retailer carries pieces from Moncler Genius, Alyx and Very Important Puppies x Heron Preston, to name a few.
It’s no surprise then that independent brands have also seen the category resonating with customers.
Christian Cowan, whose fuzzy pink sweater through a collaboration with Max-Bone sold out in one day, will be adding new styles in the collaboration to drop throughout the year. Susan Alexandra, who debuted beaded collars and leashes last month in the vein of her colorful bags, and Martine Ali, who has transformed her signature chain jewelry into collars and leashes, attribute the rise in sales to owners wanting to dress up their furry pals for dog walks, one of the last socially acceptable outdoor routines given our current climate.
For most brands and retailers included here, online sales of dog apparel and accessories have seen an uptick, and for one, a lifeline as in-store shopping has effectively come to a halt amid global lockdown measures.
Here, more on each brand’s expansion into dogwear, how sales are performing during quarantine, and some of the newest styles that reflect the aesthetic of familiar names — and hopefully provide some cheerful relief during these stressful days.
1. Brigitte Chartrand, vice president of women’s wear buying, Ssense
With over 70 percent of the Ssense audience falling between the ages of 18 and 34 years old, we took note how increasingly, Millennials were spending more on their pets, especially dogs. We also saw an immediate surge in engagement whenever we posted #SSENSEInterns (our employees’ dogs) on our Instagram account. Almost 70 percent of Ssense employees are Millennials and Gen Z, so we saw firsthand the growing focus that is placed on pets in our dog-friendly office. We launched dogwear in December 2019.
For the last several weeks, since the end of February to now, we’ve seen an increase in dogwear sales. As many are adjusting to working from home, people are spending more time with their loved ones, including their dogs. We’re all looking to uplift spirits and people are increasingly looking to adopt pets so the demographic is growing; I’m even considering getting a dog!
2. Hollie Harding, non-apparel buying manager, Browns
We wanted something feel-good and fun for our customers leading up to Christmas so we decided to explore this market alongside our gifting offering. Buying gifts for pets is a growing trend with a number of designer brands launching in this category, including Burberry and Heron Preston. The launch of our pet clothing coincided with an in-store moment “Pet Palace” in our East London store, which was created to be a fun and engaging space for our clients where you could capture a portrait of your pet to use as a digital Christmas card.
We launched this project back in December in the lead-up to Christmas, so we saw a great response, which has also continued into the new year as well.
3. Laure Heriard Dubreuil, founder and creative director, The Webster
For us, carrying dog apparel and accessories was a natural extension of the brand. Our mission is to be able to cater to every aspect of our client’s lifestyle. Pets play such a vital role in their lives that it was important to us to be able to offer them the same quality of product that they buy themselves. We have been consistently carrying this category for over two years now.
Our sales for dog apparel are always pretty consistent, we haven’t seen a direct spike in them, but our traffic for them is still steady. However, as the weeks begin to collect, it would not be surprising if there is an uptick in sales due to these furry companions being the sole company of our clients.
4. Karina Tselnik, operations manager, Garmentory
Our customers care a lot about knowing where their clothing is coming from. Our customers also love their pets and want to ensure they are able to continue to support a sustainable lifestyle when catering to the needs of their pets. Why not cater to both?
Like all lifestyle goods, it [sales] is increasing as customers are spending more time at home with their pups and cats. This is a pet’s dream come true.
5. Susan Alexandra
Pets made sense because animals are one of my passions and my muse happens to be my chihuahua pug mix, Pigeon. It was the logical next step to make him more fabulous than he already is.
The launch went really well and sales were amazing. Turns out, people want their dogs to look extra gorgeous during quarantine. It makes sense — the only time we are leaving our homes is to walk our dogs.
6. Martine Ali
Expanding into dog accessories was something that was actually on my radar from the very beginning. Years ago, before the brand had much traction and the jewelry was still quite aggressive for the average [person], I participated in this pop-up event in L.A. A girl came over, looked through all of my designs and then asked if these were designer dog collars! At the time I was offended for sure, but now honestly it just makes sense. Dogs are extensions of their owners, they need to look just as good as you do.
Sales for these accessories have been doing very well during this climate. I think when times are challenging, a purchase for ourselves may feel unnecessary — but suddenly if you’re able to purchase for someone else (something else — insert pet name here) this gesture feels fulfilling in a whole different way. Especially since walking your dog is at the top of socially acceptable activities, you really should make the effort to do this in style, for you and your pup.
I actually have a dog, so like all dog owners I’ve become completely obsessed with her. It’s always such a shame when you see someone wearing a beautifully put-together look and then they’re with their dog who’s wearing an unattractive function-only harness. Why not make your pup chic?
Amazingly! Honestly it was one of the most shocking launches. We were expecting them to be popular. But we weren’t expecting hundreds of units to sell a day, power of the pup! As more and more people work rather than starting families, I think a lot more focus has been put towards having a dog. So people pour their energy (and money) there.
8. Anonymous designer “A,” 69
69 is for every body, even dog bodies.
It’s helping us survive.
9. Alexander Stutterheim, founder, Stutterheim
Many dog owners have requested a dog raincoat over the years, to not only protect themselves when going out with their dogs, but for them to look good in bad weather as well.
When we launched the Vladimir rainbow dog coat, it exploded and we almost sold out over just a few days. We definitely plan to carry on with these and we’re thinking of developing new styles with more features in the future. All I know is that dogs have no knowledge of this surreal outbreak and must be providing a lot of comfort to their owners. I wish everyone had a dog these days actually; that would also help to make the world a better, kinder place once this pandemic is over.
10. Scott Studenberg, founder and creative director, Baja East
When I design my collection, I’m inspired by everyone around me. It was only a matter of time until I made some glam-leisure for my girls.
The term “man’s best friend” has never been more prevalent. Dog owners who are quarantining in so many cases aren’t having contact with other humans and their dogs are legit their best friends. What better time to spoil your dog and make those daily walks even more of a moment?
11. Silvia Rancani, founder, The Denim Dog
I decided to give a try to the dog accessories world one year ago. I’m a denim expert for work and an animal lover so I wanted to put the two passions together, trying to create a dog accessories line combining leather and good quality denim. Dog accessories and dog apparel is a huge world to explore and with big potential. People are buying more and more for their beloved pets and looking into quality, not having problems to spend more in order to get a good product. As well, it is not easy. There are many technical details to keep in consideration when you develop your product. It is not only about the look but functionality and safety have the same importance.
Honestly speaking, [sales] are not well. Even if my sales are mainly online, my brand is pretty new and not well established yet. I found very good responses on the American market. Also German and English customers are giving me satisfaction.
12. Zahra Ahmed, chief executive officer, DL1961
We’ve been producing eco-friendly denim for women and men since 2008 and as we’ve grown, we expanded our assortment to kids. Seeing the smaller-size kids product, friends and customers would ask if we would ever consider making jackets for their dogs. In 2018, our New York-based design team created the Fido Canine Trucker jacket. The response to the Fido jacket was incredible; everyone from customers to friends of the brand, and even our creative director’s puppy, Burr, loved the jackets. Nowadays, it’s not uncommon to see a dog or two walking in our SoHo office wearing one of the DL1961 jackets.
Recently with people spending more time at home with their pets, we’ve had a pretty sizable increase in sales. We consider ourselves to be dog and animal lovers at DL1961 and especially during this time, appreciate being able to spend time with these members of our family.
13. Melanie Kaplan, product development merchant, The Company Store
To The Company Store customers and employees, pets are cherished members of our families. As such, the pet category was a natural extension of our brand and has expanded over the years. We always focus on what will bring our customer joy and connection, so we have created matching PJs, beds, and accessories for our fur-babies that are snug and comfy. We will be further focusing on a brand new pet collection for this coming spring/summer as it is a focus for our product development group.
In this current climate, we are focused on doing the right thing for our people and customers, bringing coziness to their home and focusing on the silver linings during this trying time. Sometimes the thing that makes our customers smile is their French bulldog in a ladybug towel; other times, it’s enjoying a home-cooked meal with their loved ones. Whatever it is, The Company Store is here to share comfort with real people (and real cats; and real dogs).
14. Sabrina Albarello and Katerina Karelas, founders, Very Important Puppies
We’ve expanded into dogwear out of our admiration for dogs — and to create a personal line reflecting that, with current trends in mind.
Sales have decreased due to the current climate in the world — it’s a very unprecedented time and it’s certain that other needs are of higher priority. On a lighter note, with social distancing being of concern, walking your dog is one of the few activities permitted in accordance to this. So there are definitely people out there spending more time bonding with their pet, and as a result, spoiling them!