Posted 32d ago
By Elizabeth Davidson
How fashionable is your dog? What’s their individual style? Are they sporty? Outdoorsy? Cutesy?
Are they the natty-bandana type? Perhaps they love lounging in patterned pyjamas? How do they feel about ruffle collars?
Okay… okay…It’s likely your dog is more interested in chasing a tennis ball round the park or playing with their four-legged friends than what you have them wear.
It’s us humans who love to shop for clothes. When it comes to shopping for dog clothes, however, it’s not always easy to find what you want. For example, I really want a string vest for my Chihuahua – he would rock it – but I’ve scoured the web and I can’t find one anywhere.
Canine fashion is a relatively undeveloped phenomenon in the UK but is there a market for canine couture?
It shouldn’t all be tutus or waxed coats (credit: Getty Images)
TeamDogs spoke to fashion designer and dog owner Lydia Webber, who has worked in womenswear design for 11 years, to get her take on the market.
‘I lived in Tokyo for some years, and dog fashion is a real thing there,’ she said.
‘They have spring, summer, autumn and winter collections, but that’s not the situation here. That could change, although maybe never to the same extent.’
Lydia, who has a Wire-haired Dachshund called Margot, thinks there is room for more accessible, playful dog clothing and accessories in the UK market.
So much so that she is bringing out her own range – called Snoots – in August.
‘I have identified a bit of a gap,’ she said.
‘There is the ‘Barbour pooch’ who wears a wax jacket and there is ‘silly posh’ – tutus and bow ties – and not enough in between. A lot of high-end stuff is expensive and not accessible to many people.
Neighbour Morris has been helping Lydia by acting as a dog mannequin (credit: Marcus Rudland)
‘I’d like to include what I’d put Margot in. Something practical. She’s not in the countryside, so she doesn’t need a wax jacket. She’s a city dog who needs stuff for going about town, getting on the Tube and going to the pub, something casual but cute. All the country stuff is not necessary.
‘I want to combine functionality with something playful and covetable. For example, the harness – I want something a bit lighter, easy to care for and which can be wiped clean.’
So, how do you go about putting together a collection for dogs?
‘I have done it in the way I would do a human range. I would normally plan the various aspects of the range so, for example, knitwear, outerwear, lightweight option, novelty option, a couple of toys, collar, harness and lead.’
‘The first collection will be a short range – not 50 looks, more likely 10 pieces. It will be concise. The look will be cheerful and playful with bright colours, which is what people want at the moment. For example, a jumper with flowers on it which is cute but still wearable.
Could Morris take over the catwalk some day? (credit: Marcus Rudland)
‘It will be a mixture of solids and prints, machine washable, practical and comfortable.’
One aspect Lydia is keen to promote is sustainability. This is harder than it sounds.
‘Sustainability is such a catch-all phrase,’ she says.
‘It can mean anything – that part of the clothing is recycled or that less water was used in the printing process. Unless you pay a fortune, true sustainability is hard to achieve. I would like to make Snoots as sustainable as possible but it’s a challenge.
‘For example, I could take an old jumper that someone likes and turn it into a coat for a dog, and it would look great, but I would have to charge a fortune for each item in order to survive so it’s not a viable business plan. Achieving true sustainability is hard, but you can, for example, reduce the packaging used in shipping, ship a lot of things together, make sure the product lasts and doesn’t fall apart after a few months, and make sure the factory pays its staff properly.’
Before launching the Snoots range in August, Lydia will be busy organising a photo shoot, finalising her website and finishing work on the items themselves.
And as a dog owner, she wants to give back. A percentage of all sales will go to Battersea Dogs and Cats Home.