Last updated on August 5, 2014
Bark is the new black, and some dogs truly have a better wardrobe than most of us, present company included. Dog fashion is all the rage and this is no passing fad. Canines are copying their human counterparts, and what was once considered a fad has emerged as a trend and has now entered mainstream. Dogs wearing clothes is a very hot topic.
There are both functional and fashionable reasons for canines to do couture, and perhaps a bit of both in many cases. Fidose of Reality is all about alternative living for today’s modern dogs. Here’s the scoop on dog apparel, why it’s all the rage, and what dog moms and dads should know before purchasing custom or off-the-rack clothing for dogs.
Not all dogs are into fashion. Not all dogs like wearing clothes. If this is the case and your dog is truly upset or stressed by it, don’t do it. However, many dogs just need a little coaxing and positive reinforcement. This means no yelling, getting frustrated, forcing a dog to wear clothes, or in any way getting upset. This means starting with a bandana and if the dog allows this and walks around with it for a minute or two, reward him and praise him like he just won a dog show.
Work up to longer periods of time but switch the item of apparel out. Try a doggie scarf. Again, if the dog accepts this, praise. If the dog is freaked out or otherwise uses the scarf as a chew toy, forego the effort.
When a dog first enters your life is probably one of the best times to get him used to wearing clothes. As a puppy, I put t-shirts on my dog, Dexter. He would walk around the house in them. Eventually when he was neutered, the Cover Me by Tui did the trick to keep him from licking at the surgical site. I felt pretty darned good about having a dog who associated clothes with a positive experience.
If you are reading this and your dog has never worn clothes, try the above. Work up to a t-shirt and praise. Starting with something lightweight like a loose-fitting t-shirt means Fido will be more likely to acclimate to a sweater and something with functional warmth.
If your dog does not like clothes, wearing clothes, and tends to either freeze in place, act like they were lathered in glue, or otherwise is unhappy about apparel: Please for the love of Lassie, don’t make them wear clothes. You can still have fun: There are so many fun leashes, collars, and bandanas on the market these days that you don’t have to feel excluded.
Think like Goldilocks: Is it too hot, too cold, or just right? Dogs can overheat easily, so ensure your dog’s clothing is not too bulky or heavy. Watch for elastic features around the paw area and be certain there is enough room in the girthy area of the chest. If a dog can easily trip over the legs, this is not ideal.
Going for It
The growing focus from a marketing and media perspective on the human-animal bond also continues to attract niche sectors usually targeted at people. From dog booties to Swarovski crystal-laden collars and even canine handbags, we dote on our dogs, and designers are cashing in.
We went straight to the experts on this one. Here are a few of our favorite canine fashionistas:
Sophia Loren was a rescue from the mountains of New Mexico, and since she entered Anne Maria Tafoya’s life, she is a changed pup. At first, her mom reports Sophia would shake and tremble until the vet recommended swaddling her in an anxiety-type wrap for dogs. From there, Sophia fell in puppy love with posh apparel.
One of the stars of dog fashion’s spotlight is Anthony Rubio. With his canine Chihuahua twins, Bogie and Kimba, are Rubio’s muses and models. From Liberace-inspired outfits to suits and costumes, these two fashion divos are trained to wear sunglasses, too.
“On the other hand I won’t force my dogs to wear shoes or boots because they feel unnatural to the dog,” Rubio says.
Rubio is the exclusive designer of the couture for Coco and Dexter this fall in the season’s hottest canine fundraiser, Wigglebutts Go Hollywoof. He takes custom orders on a commission basis.
Speaking of Coco, the one and only Coco Chanel Bella has quite the wardrobe. Her mom, Christine Aiello, reports Coco has her own closet and yours truly has seen it in person. She rivals the stars and is oh so en vogue with her wardrobe and accessories:
How To Measure Your Dog
Keep in mind that many stores will not allow coats to be returned, so measure your dog adequately before making any parka purchases. Here’s how: With the dog standing up, run a tape measure from the base of the dog’s neck (where the collar would sit) and to the base of the tail. The majority of dog clothes use this measurement. Knowing your dog’s chest measurement will ensure a good fit, too.
There are many myths out there about dogs and winter coats. Here, Fidose does some winter coat myth busting.
New York City’s Fashion Institute of Technology, heralded as one of the world’s leading higher educational facilities for fashion design, offers a certificate program in Pet Product Design and Marketing. The brainchild of Professor Janet Brav and Assistant Professor Deborah David, the noncredit program offers six courses, including Pet Accessory Design Studio and Quick Sketching for the Pet Product Business.
Overall spending in the pet industry is at an all-time high, according to the American Pet Products Association. Canine couture and high-end fashion for discriminating dogs took quite a bite out of the nearly $51 billion spent in 2011 on our pets. Global Pet Expo, the pet industry’s largest trade show, held yearly in Orlando, showcases a special “boutique” section featuring fashions, frivolities, and lavish apparel for pets.
Folks like Lauren Darr, founder of the International Association of Pet Fashion Professionals, set the fashion bar high. From clothing to accessories, she’s been crazy about pet fashion since before it became cool. She has a corporate and consulting marketing background, which includes being a trade show marketing expert. In 2013, she co-authored “Pet Fashion Almanac 2014″ with Ellen Zucker, which became a #1 Best Seller. Lauren believes you can never have too much fun at a pet fashion show and that there is no replacement for just the right accessory.
So yes, there is a time and a place for fashion for dogs. For some, it’s year round and for others it’s a functional thing. For yet another group of folks, they are just so not into clothing for pets.
What are your thoughts about dogs wearing clothes? Should dogs don couture in the name of good looks alone or should clothing only serve a warming function? Do you dress your dog up? What do you tell people who think it’s ridiculous that dogs wear clothes?