Seasonal designs and rich, festive colors equal maximum wearability and a longer sales window.
By Maggie M. Shein
Pet costumes around the holidays always are popular, especially for Halloween, which is the biggest holiday for many retailers selling these items. Retailers reported that they cannot keep the most popular costumes in stock, and demand is high for the latest and cutest costumes as each October rolls around.
Because customers want pet holiday apparel they can use more than once, retailers do well to carry general selections as well as holiday-specific attire.
However, holiday apparel
extends far beyond Halloween. In general, retailers are seeing a new trend: Customers are looking for seasonal or holiday items with more than one day of wear. Seasonal looks are increasing in popularity for retailers and consumers, according to those in the industry, with holiday-reminiscent colors or themes topping the list.
“In terms of costumes, Halloween is bigger than Christmas,” said David Joel, webmaster at Kool Dawg Tees, an online retailer in Gilbert, S.C.
The most popular costumes are dogzilla, bees and hot dogs with mustard or ketchup, he said. The retailer carries a range of costumes from several manufacturers, including Zack and Zoey, and Casual Canine.
“Animal costumes are particularly popular,” said Russ Kim, marketing director at Hip Doggie in Sherman Oaks, Calif. “Some of our most popular have been a giraffe, a duck, a penguin and a lion.”
This year, Hip Doggie is adding new designs to the mix, including a ladybug and cave girl and boy costumes, Kim said.
Holiday Looks with a Twist
While Halloween costumes, including animal-related versions and fun designs like bananas, are very popular at D.O.G. Pet Boutique, holiday-themed or colored bows, scarves, accessories and dresses also are grabbing attention, according to Christian Velasco, co-owner of the West Hollywood, Calif., boutique.
“I’m definitely seeing more winter or other seasonal-styled clothes similar to human clothes,” Velasco said. “People really like that because then their pets can wear the outfit year-round.”
Another trend Velasco sees is people accessorizing apparel for more versatility, such as adding a red bow or charm to a harness or sweater to give the outfit additional holiday appeal.
Manufacturers are responding to requests for versatility when it comes to holiday apparel by creating items that work throughout a season, rather than just one day of the year.
“People are looking for holiday colors that can be worn at any time of year; it gives a longevity to the product,” said Lucy Medeiros, designer and CEO of Roxy and LuLu Urban Doggie Wear in Montreal.
Grouping holiday and other designs gives stores more product mileage.
The company recently added a line of high-end, upscale dresses, coats and harnesses called RL Couture.
Jewel-tones, embellishments, glitter, brocades, taffetas and satins are popular in holiday apparel right now and particularly for Christmas, Medeiros said, and they will be incorporated into the RL Couture line for the 2012 holiday season.
“Rich colors, such as hues of gold, deep reds and vivid blues, are in,” she added. “It’s very luxurious for the holidays.”
Other designers agreed that items with sparkles and embellishments that remain practical and versatile are trends for holiday apparel.
“Sequins and metallics are trending for the holidays, and people want to walk out of the store feeling like they got something special and unique, but practical as well, such as keeping the dogs warm, being machine washable or being comfortable,” said Sandy Park, owner of Monkey Daze in San Diego. “People want things they will get a lot of wear out of.”
For this holiday season, Monkey Daze released several apparel items, including tutu dresses, party dresses, fur coats and his and her velour Santa outfits, Park said.
At One Lucky Dog in St. Petersburg, Fla., customers who dress their dogs for the holidays pay attention to comfort.
“We get things that are comfortable because it’s not quite cold yet during the holidays here, so we have to look for lighter-weight materials,” reported owner Jaime Calderbank.
While costumes and holiday apparel are popular with the store’s smaller pets, holiday-themed toys, treats, collars and leashes sell particularly well for people with larger dogs, she added.
Increase the Sales Season
Consumers are not the only ones benefitting from the versatility trend. Retailers are finding benefits as well. In many cases, retailers have driven the trend, according to manufacturers.
Luxurious looks with sparkles and metallics are holiday trends now.
“Due to the economy, a lot of our retailers are looking for products that sell well at Christmas, but are not unsaleable when Christmas is over,” said Stephanie Davis, director of sales at Mirage Pet Products in Nixa, Mo. “For that reason, we are having more interest in winter-themed apparel like snowflake and penguin designs. There’s a much longer selling season for those products.”
Hip Doggie also reported increased demand for seasonal items designed for year-round wear.
“During these tough times, retailers and wholesalers are managing their inventories as tightly as possible,” Kim said. “So we’re trying to bridge the gap with looks like snowflake sweaters and red and green jumpers that are seasonal, but not necessarily holiday, so you can get more mileage out of them.”
Some savvy retailers found success featuring a display mix of holiday-specific apparel coupled with apparel and accessories they can market for the holidays as well as year-round.
“Retailers can group red and green products together that they already have in the store for Christmas to make holiday displays,” said Susan Jansen, owner of Dog in the Closet in Ennis, Texas. “Using some of the inventory you already have and adding a few new pieces really works.”
In addition, accessories, such as bows or broaches that can be added to apparel pieces depending on the occasion, help create a usability that many retailers have requested. Jansen said many of her designs are made to maximize the sales season and allow for versatile displays, such as red silk dresses with attachments, including holly leaves for the holidays and ladybugs for normal everyday wear. The company’s denim skirts can be dressed up with a red and green belt for Christmas, and then replaced with a pink belt once the holiday is over, Jansen said.
“It’s these creative ways to create inventory for the holidays that keep retailers from spending a lot of money on the holiday-specific inventory,” she noted.
With this trend in mind, for this year’s holiday season, Dog in the Closet released a T-shirt tutu dress that can be customized in different colors and designs, including one with a green satin bow on the waist for Christmas.
In the end, whatever they are buying, customers are more excited than ever to dress up their pets for that special time of year, retailers reported.
“Ever year, we do better during the holidays, because people just have to get their dogs something, like a dress or even a bow,” Calderbank said. “In the last five years it has become normal to dress up your dog. People treat their pets like part of the family, and they are looking for things that let their pets participate in the holidays.”
This article originally appeared in the October 2012 issue of Pet Style News.
Holiday Trends Regardless the Pet’s Size
The holiday trends of jewel-tones, embellishments, glitter and sequins are extending beyond the traditional apparel set. They are reaching into accessories, such as scarves, bandanas, collars and harnesses, as consumers look for additional ways to dress up their pets for the holidays or to coordinate their pet’s look with their outfits.
Holiday-themed accessories are not just for the big dogs, either. Many consumers are willing to spend more money on a few bows, collars or bandanas for an entire season to change up a pet’s look more often, regardless of the pet’s size, retailers reported.
Owners want pet apparel products for other holidays, such as the Fourth of July.
“People are accessorizing more for the holidays, even if it’s getting a red harness and adding a little holiday bow or charm to it,” said Christian Velasco, co-owner of D.O.G. Pet Boutique in West Hollywood, Calif. “One company we work with is doing a lot more holiday-themed harnesses, which is something different than we’ve seen in the past.”
Holiday-themed scarves and winter-styled clothing are surging in popularity as well, he added.
“Holiday-themed bandanas and other accessories are very popular with our customers who don’t always put their dogs in clothes,” said Jaime Calderbank, owner of One Lucky Dog in St. Petersburg, Fla.
She added that holidays outside of Christmas and Halloween, such as the Fourth of July and Easter, are popular occasions for customers to add a little holiday-themed accessory without going all-out on a head-to-toe outfit.
Coordinated display themes that include apparel and accessories help create a holiday mood and make it easy for customers to feed their needs for coordinated, fun looks, Velasco said.
“We lay everything out together so people can actually see a Halloween costume with a matching collar, leash or harness,” he said. “They like to see it displayed together and then they just have to get it all.”--MMS
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