Fashion accessories include unique styles and variety to suit everyone’s needs, from flashy to comedic.
By Maggie M. Shein
Popular pet fashion accessories mimic human trends and often closely relate to the pet owner’s own taste in accessories. Trends in the current marketplace include the ever-popular “bling” and sparkle as well as vintage touches, comedic phrases, personalization and seasonal or holiday looks.
“A lot of the trends change with the season,” said Kiiah Kimball, buyer for retail chain Muttropolis in Solana Beach, Calif. “In the summer, hats and sunglasses are really popular. Throughout the year, different designs of bandanas and collars are a great way for people to accessorize big or small dogs.”
Customers want styles and designs they can change regularly with the mood and the season.
Muttropolis carries accessories, such as bandanas and collars, year-round, but changes the styles and designs regularly so customers can get something new and current each time they come in the door, Kimball explained.
“We constantly bring in new styles of accessories because a lot of our customers love changing their pet’s look without buying a new outfit,” Kimball said.
Some trends Kimball sees include geometric prints, Hawaiian designs, rhinestone and pearl embellishments, as well as bright prints for spring and summer, and leathers for fall.
Others in the marketplace agreed that variety is the key to selling accessories because many customers like to rotate their pet’s look throughout the year.
“Accessories are often for fun, and the ones people choose are an extension of where the customer is in life,” said Tony Waara, CEO of Minneapolis-based The Dog Perk, which makes FunDog Bandanas. Some of his most popular items include “Big Brother” and “Big Sister,” current catchphrases such as “Does this Make My Butt Look Big,” and—during an election year—political party allegiances, he said.
“Customers want to spend money on their pets and, with many accessories, the price point is there where they can do that and change it up often,” Waara said. “People like to give their dog a voice.”
The Dog Perk recently released a tuxedo bandana and several holiday designs. This past summer, based on customer inquiry, the company launched a line of leash sleeves that can be customized with sayings such as “Don’t Pet Me, I’m Working,” and “Lover Not a Fighter.”
Matching the Mood
Along with nods to current events and sayings, fashion accessory trends include school colors and collegiate accessories for pets, along with glitter, pearls and crystals, according to Ann Clinger, president of DazzlePet in Ann Arbor, Mich. The company makes rhinestone collars, leashes, barrettes and jewelry.
“People think in terms of occasions and variety with accessories,” Clinger said.
Jewelry is an emerging trend in pet accessories.
The company found such a demand for “bling” and embellished accessories that it changed its name in 2011 to better reflect that marketplace demand. DazzlePet’s most recent accessories include pearl necklaces, metal barrettes and human jewelry to match a pet’s accessories.
“Matching jewelry with your pet is a pretty recent trend,” Clinger said. “People just love to match a bracelet with the collar their dog or cat is wearing for all sorts of occasions.”
Other retailers, including Doggy Style Designs in Warwick, R.I., reported increased marketplace interest in matching pet and human accessories last year.
“People were putting collars on their wrists,” said Wendy York, president of Doggy Style Designs. “They just gravitate toward those things.”
In addition to coordinated human/pet looks, York said other popular accessories right now include boots, sneakers and non-skid socks in bright colors, as well as leather leashes, collars and harnesses with vintage rhinestone settings.
“Boots and Swarovski collars and necklaces are consistent sellers,” she said. “They have only gone up in sales over time.”
The company recently brought in a line of boots in metallics, fuchsias and animal prints to keep up with the trends, York added.
Flashy designs are nothing new, but retailers say they are a consistent favorite with consumers, and manufacturers are finding more accessories to embellish, such as bandanas, shoes and harnesses.
“We always have sold a lot of ‘bling’ collars and accessories, whether it’s a girl or boy dog,” said Christine Bare, owner of Wet Noses in Sarasota, Fla. “People like beautiful barrettes, collars, leashes and jewelry.”
The company has found success with a few embellished lines of accessories, including DazzlePet, she said.
“There is always that customer who loves something unique that you can’t get everywhere else,” she added.
In addition to embellished accessories, neckties are a popular item for Wet Noses, according to Bare.
“It’s really popular for any time of year and a lot of fun, because people buy the collar and then can add a tie in all kinds of designs, colors and fabrics, like bowties for special occasions and girl ties in the shape of flowers or sunbursts,” Bare said.
Making it Personal
Another trend reported by fashion accessories manufacturers and retailers is personalization. Customizable bandanas, collars, tags and jewelry are increasingly popular with customers who want to get unique, one-of-a-kind looks for their pets coupled with a practical component.
“We are seeing a lot of people really get into personalizing bandanas and name tags and changing them up, just like people would get a charm for their charm bracelets and change that out. It’s practical, and customers are giving us a lot of great feedback about those,” said Kimball of Muttropolis.
“We’re seeing new-to-the-market laser-etched collars with the pet’s name as well as the owner’s name and contact information,” said Carol Schwed, owner of Bloomingtails Dog Boutique, an online retailer based in Gloversville, N.Y. “Those are great accessories that people also understand the importance of.”
Bright prints and Hawaiian designs are trends now.
Collars, charms, party collars and bandanas are favorites with Schwed’s customers, and harnesses really have taken off recently.
“People really are conscious about looking at multi-functional items,” she said. “Denim harnesses are popular, and we have a line of harnesses with sequins and crystals that people love.”
Whether it is a bandana, a collar, sunglasses or a harness, consumers are looking for variety, freshness and something that makes a unique fashion statement when it comes to accessories.
“Colors are getting brighter, and we’re seeing more graphics,” said Joyce Reavey, owner and designer of Pawsitively Posh in Exton, Pa., makers of collars, jewelry and embellished harnesses in velvets and satins.
“The look always has to be a lot of fun, and that can cover a wide range of trends and designs,” Reavey said, adding that some of the current trends mimic children’s clothing trends.
“Our customers expect new things,” Muttropolis’ Kimball said. “If they don’t see the latest and greatest, then they think there is something wrong. It’s really important to infuse newness and freshness all the time.”
This article originally appeared in the October 2012 issue of Pet Style News.
Industry Voices: What are the biggest trends with pet accessories?
“It changes with the seasons; we really think of trends in accessories as seasonal. For spring, we see a lot of brighter colors, and with summer we see functional items for the beach, such as water-resistant collars, beach hats, sunglasses and Hawaiian- or surf-themed styles. Glitzy collars with rhinestones and pearls are a perennial favorite. We have a lot of customers who come back and get a similar rhinestone design in different colors.”
Glitzy accessories with rhinestones and pearls are perennial favorites.
--Kiiah Kimball, buyer for Muttropolis in Solana Beach, Calif.
“Trends change every year, but collars, harnesses and fun accessories always are good. Jewelry is emerging because people will get a collar and then hang charms off of it. For people who don’t typically dress their dogs, bandanas and party collars are really popular. People love them. With accessories, the whole idea is to have a lot of fun.”
--Carol Schwed, owner of Bloomingtails Dog Boutique in Gloversville, N.Y.
“We sell a lot of ‘bling’ collars. The economy has changed, but we still have a lot of customers who enjoy getting luxury items for their pets. Harnesses are much more popular today, from a little 5-pound dog to a big dog. People like to put a collar on [their pets] because they are beautiful and hold a tag or charm. In addition to that, they’re using the harness for walking.”
--Christine Bare, owner of Wet Noses in Sarasota, Fla.
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