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4:18 AM   October 01, 2014
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Dog Fashion Designers Share Inspiration

Fashion in the human arena has its seasonal lines, and the pet world is no different. Pet fashion designers look to the latest in styles and fabrics and colors for people, and create their doggie attire accordingly. Some even style human and dog fashions to match.

Pet Style News interviewed 10 designers of high-end pet fashion to find out what's hot this coming season.

Check out the latest from A Pet's World, BoneSoir, DISCOLULU, E&E Hallstrom, FouFou, Fox & Hounds, Gamboa, Gidget Gear, JJ&Me, and Pedigree Perfection.

"Pet Fashion Week NY provides a niche market and an easy-access, concentrated trade buying event—perfect timing to buy pre-season merchandise," said Mario DiFante, executive director of Pet Fashion Week NY.

"High-level industry trendsetters and innovative and progressive companies that share a similar vision for this market segment will attend," he said.

DiFante certainly knows his share about this market segment. He has been in the pet industry for 30 years, specializing in trade-show productions. As for the fashion end of things, he has a partner, Alexa Cach, the show's fashion director, who has organized fashion shows for more than 10 years.

"We have had an incredible response," Cach said. "I've been in fashion my whole life and I've never seen anything like this. It might be due to the novelty of the event, which obviously attracts a wide variety of people. Part of it is definitely the novelty, but we're trying to grow out of that.

"The trend in pet fashions started as, 'I dress up my dog for Halloween,' and evolved into, 'I dress my dog.'" she said. "I do feel that the industry has changed a lot and has become more design driven."

The weekend's highlight will be the three fashion shows on the 19th and 20th, featuring everything from haute canine couture to urban fashion.

The first evening is a black-tie charity event that will raise money for animal-welfare organizations. Each show, sponsored by Swarovski Intl., begins with students of design who will win awards for new modes in dog apparel.

The second segment focuses on the latest in posh pooch clothing and jewelry from 12 seasoned doggie designers, alongside novices to canine design. It is expected to impress all of the glitterati and mutteratti in attendance.

Designers include Donald Pliner and Randolph Duke, a red-carpet designer with a strong international following, along with pet designers A Pet's World, Gamboa Designs, Dog Luv by Michelle Marcombe, Les Pooch, Disco Lulu, Canini, E.E. Hallstrom, Theo (an Icelandic company), and startups, such as Fairy Tale Couture, among others.

Many of the dogs that will strut down the catwalk are shelter pooches awaiting adoption, along with champion show dogs and pets.

DiFante said that a show like this one has never been seen in the pet industry. Though the first show is a high-priced charity event with a $150 admission fee, the second show is free with a trade badge, and the third show is also free to trade, but costs $75 for the public.

"We're trying to provide a platform that fosters design and innovation," Cach said.

"That's where the runway show and design awards come into play. One of the things that we've done with the runway show is taken some of these companies out of their comfort zone. We're not presenting anything ready-to-wear—it's all couture, one-of-a-kind pieces of apparel for the dog and human."

Cach said the most sustainable products will be safety-driven.

"I think that people will move from, 'Oh, this is so cute,' to, 'How well is this made?'" he said. The industry symposium is likely to be a draw for retailers.

Subjects of lectures and interactive sessions include the creative and technical aspects of being a retailer in the upscale pet marketplace, DiFante said.

"The symposium is probably going to include issues that aren't mainstream topics," Cach said.

For more information about the events at Pet Fashion Week, visit www.petfashionweek.com.

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