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Super Fashion Unleashed

Posted: August 9, 2013, 11:30 a.m. EDT

Companies predict pop culture trends will influence pet Halloween costumes, and formal wear will
rule holiday fashion.

By Arden Moore

With Halloween officially kicking off the holiday season that extends through New Year’s Eve, expect dogs, cats and other companion animals to make bolder fashion trend statements than ever before.

Halloween pet costumes this season are designed to fit better, sport higher-quality materials, be eye-catching and reflect pop culture trends that people have been yapping about all year.

Pet FashionCourtesy of Road Wagz.

On the home website of Rubies Costume Inc., the countdown to Halloween is displayed prominently. Rubies is the world’s largest designer, manufacturer and distributor of Halloween costumes and accessories and has been a family-owned company for more than 60 years.

"For us, Halloween is like Christmas,” said Erin Breig, head of national sales and product development for the pet line for the Melville, N.Y.-based manufacturer. "Every day of the year, we are working for this holiday. We’re the biggest Halloween costume company in the world, and expanding into the pet line was a smart move for us. Starting last year, we noticed a huge shift in people wanting to put their dogs into costumes with more fashion and style, so we stepped it up and have more offerings.”

Rubies recently updated its website to simplify item searches, and it now sports a 38-page pet costume catalog that features a diverse selection and can be viewed in a digital version online.

Breig noted that more people seek pet costumes that work not only for Halloween but also for other festive holidays, such as Mardi Gras and St. Patrick’s Day.

"And the tutu is something people love to put on their dogs any day of the year,” she said. "Our top seller this year is the hot dog costume that features a bun on each side and fake mustard on the back. Our hot dog costumes don’t just fit dachshunds; they now comfortably fit a tiny Chihuahua up to a Labrador retriever.”

Another predicted popular pet costume is Dorothy from the "Wizard of Oz,” complete with her red slippers—but with a twist.

"In our design of the ruby red slippers, they are purposely open on the bottom and do not encase the entire paw,” Breig said. "The slippers consist of our material that lies on top of a dog’s paw so they can still move easily.”

Decking out dogs in high-end fashion for the holidays and special events has been the hallmark for Road Wagz. Jeannie and Mitch Cohen, co-owners of the Beverly Hills, Calif.,-based manufacturer, specialize in formalwear and accessories for people and pets, and they love unveiling new trendsetting apparel, especially for male dogs.

"After reviewing the pet apparel industry about six years ago, we discovered that the male dog was left out in the cold,” Mitch said. "As a result, Road Wagz has created a collection of unique clothing and accessories for the ‘boy dog,’ which includes formal tuxedo bibs, vests, collars with neckties and bowties, and many other fashionable items. We represent formal accessories for the boy dog—that’s our slogan.”

At press time, the company planned to unveil at SuperZoo in Las Vegas this year its pleated tuxedo bib, which looks like a tuxedo shirt.

"We’ve designed them with Velcro closures around a dog’s neck so that they are fashionable yet functional and safe. They are created to fit different-sized dogs,” Mitch said. "The wedding business is large for us, and more people are including their dogs in their weddings. Our tuxedo bibs come with matching paw cuffs.”

Influencing their canine line are their fashion-conscious Havanese named Bailey and Madison, the couple said.

"When people see dogs wear our products, they smile and they laugh,” said Jeannie. "When our pups get dressed up, they love when people admire them and tell them how cute they look.”

Take a closer look at celebrity pets on the red carpet, and there is a strong chance that they are decked out in luxury pet couture from Oscar Newman LLC. The Batavia, Ill., company prides itself on creating meticulous, hand-embellished designs featuring hand-dyed fabrics, custom appliqués, hand-sewn beading and original embroidered designs, said Charisa Antigua, CEO and co-founder.

"We’re the only apparel company that does true hand-smocking, an intricate and involved needle art that has been handed down through generations,” she added. "Our hand-smocked dresses are our top sellers, and they usually become collector’s items and family heirlooms that are treasured and handed down within families.”

Antigua predicts that the hottest item from the company’s collection this holiday season might top last year’s hot seller: a cranberry-toned sweater with a custom-knit teddy bear toy soldier appliqué.

Spooktacular Pet Halloween Costume Sales

When it comes to pets participating in Halloween celebrations, there appears to be plenty of financial treats—and no tricks—for manufacturing companies creating pet costumes and for retail stores selling them. Americans spent a record $370 million on pet costumes last year, according to a 2012 survey conducted by the National Retail Federation (NRF), and the average person spent $79.82 on Halloween candy, costumes and décor last year.
"With many families on the hunt for adult, child and pet costumes this year, retailers are making sure they’ve got their shelves fully stocked with a wide variety of costumes,” said Matthew Shay, NRF president and CEO.
The NRF survey reported that the top-selling pet costume last year was a pumpkin, at 12.7 percent. Rounding out the top five were devil, hot dog, cat and bee costumes, respectively. Dressing pets up as ghosts, action or super heroes and witches, as well as decking them out in fancy bowties, also made the top 10 list.
NRF is the world’s largest retail trade association, representing retailers in the United States and more than 45 other countries.—AM

"This year, we have another adorable holiday sweater with a matching surprise,” Antigua said. "Unfortunately, I can’t reveal yet what it is—but we’re really excited about it!”

In Montreal, Romy + Jacob is available in more than 600 retailers and plans to usher in this holiday season with a line of Whisper Fleece in candy pink as well as red and green colors, said Libby Waltz, company spokesperson.

"Our Whisper Fleece is a patented, luxuriously soft and fluffy fabric, which we offer in hoodies, pajamas and blankies,” Waltz said. "The more you wash and dry them, the fluffier they get. This year, we already have a long list of pre-orders for our red and pink bones women’s clutch, our all-natural loofah toys and our red Whisper Fleece line.”

Keeping a close eye on global pet fashions from Canada is Caolaidhe Lundy, store manager and pet fashionista at Barking Babies, a dog lifestyle boutique in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Since opening its doors in 2004, Lundy has been on a quest to find and showcase the hippest, trendiest pet clothing and accessories, she said.

"The biggest Halloween trend in pet costumes we are seeing is dogs being dressed like pop culture icons, such as Michael Jackson,” Lundy said. "Another Halloween trend is to come as a couple in outfits for you and your dog. Last year, for example, I went as Priscilla Presley, and my dog, Scotty, a Pekinese cross, went as Elvis. We love to help people come up with ideas for costumes for their dogs that will complement their costumes.”

Beyond Halloween costumes, Barking Babies features top-of-the-line clothing and accessories designed to bring out the pedigree in any dog. Step into the boutique, and Lundy will usher you to hot fashions created by the likes of Oscar Newman, Road Wagz and Wooflink.

"As far as fashion beyond Halloween, we find that our customers are more interested in decking their pets in more humanized, stylish clothing,” she said. "There is a new trend in color blocking—having pets wear outfits that feature opposite colors of the color wheel, such as matching bright yellow and blue together.

"The Oscar Newman collection is simply beautiful,” she continued. "What we like about their line is that the outfits look like actual human clothes. One of the favorites from Oscar Newman is the dress called Got My Eye on You—it is a beautiful yellow summer dress.”

Wooflink is another stellar seller in the Barking Babies boutique, said Lundy.

"Wooflink makes well-made clothes at reasonable prices,” she said. "Some clothing has beads, and you can tell a lot of work was put into the outfit. The company offers customized dresses and tuxedos for pets attending special events, such as weddings.”

Lundy is also an ardent fan of Road Wagz.

"My dog, Scotty, is very much a suit-and-tie kind of gentleman dog, and Road Wagz always has a great selection that brings out the calm, cool and collected attitude in male dogs,” she said. <HOME>


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