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Designers Update Spring Wardrobes

Some trends in pet clothing are ruffles plus matching looks for boys and girls.
By Sandy Robins

Pink and lime green will dominate pet spring fashions according to Michelle Ochs, president of Doggie Design, Inc. (Dress made by One Lucky Dog)
These days, when it comes to fashion, it’s not just people who are trendsetters. Thanks to a little Chihuahua named Chloe, star of the hit movie “Beverly Hills Chihuahua,” shades of pink and lime green will dominate pet spring fashions.

The outfit that started it all was a little number from Doggie Design Inc. in Surfside Beach, S.C. Featured in the movie, it was a popular choice for buyers to include in their spring-fashion purchases, beginning as far back as October at the H.H Backer Christmas Trade Show.

“Pink and lime green are great colors to launch spring fashions generally,” says Michelle Ochs, the company’s president and designer.

“I always spend a lot of time researching fashion colors before getting down to designing a collection and there’s no question, that apart from perennial pink, various shades of green are going to be very prevalent is designs for both male and female pets.”

Getting Fresh
So often, new fashion trends in the pet industry tend to focus on female attire. In an effort to right this wrong, Ochs has launched a matching look for both boy and girl dogs. The collection consists of tank tops for boys and matching T-dresses for girls with lace skirts.

The clothes are teamed with matching hats and collars for a complete unisex look.

“Our customers have been asking for a matching look for some time,” Ochs says.

Spring fashions for 2009 will feature less bling and lots of lace–in the form of ruffled sleeves and multilayered skirts.

“Yes to ruffles,” says Evelyn Yu, creative director of FouFou Dog in Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada.

How to Be Trendy

• Help customers learn about the latest fashion trends by referencing magazine articles. Put them in photo frames and place on store shelves.

• Make your own signs that highlight fashion favorites, such as “spring forward in polka dots.”

• Make a list of top colors for the season and highlight certain outfits in store.

“I see the styles for spring and summer 2009 as being a combination of edgy and modern, mixing with exotic and romantic looks,” Yu says. “Ruffles and frills, resembling flower petals, will be a popular look on dresses.

Polka dots are always a spring favorite. This year, there will also be wonderful butterfly-inspired prints and appliqués on a variety of garments. And as far as accents are concerned, zippers will not only be functional, but decorative statements, too.”

For the color palette, Ochs says other popular colors will be lavender, a repeat from the previous year, and a lemon yellow. Yu agrees lavender is a popular choice because male dogs can get away with wearing it.

“Last spring, black and white was very popular, and for 2009, this has translated to soft grays with a tint of blue,” Yu says. “And your average beige will take on a rose undertone.”

A hint to retailers of what’s popular comes, of course, from customers.

“When it comes to ordering spring fashions, we take careful note of customer requests,” says Tony Bolling, owner of Mackie’s Parlor in Scottsdale, Ariz. “We know what our regular customers like and ensure their demands are met. It’s important for boutique owners to know their clientele and order accordingly. And while many styles are repeated every year, it’s very important, also, to bring in lots of new ideas.”

What’s Hot
In contrast to the girly look epitomized by lots of ruffles, lace and balloon-style skirts, a big look for male dogs will be a British punk-rock theme, says Katie Horberg, co-owner of One Lucky Dog Couture in Bay Harbor, Fla. It will focus on the Union Jack, with little pistols as decorations a la the Sex Pistols, who epitomized that era.

Horberg thinks the look is an updated version of the skull and crossbones craze, which she feels is on the way out.

“However, camouflage will still be around,” she adds.

Nadine Picone, co-owner of four Natural Pawz stores in Texas, says fashion-conscious customers follow the trends and know what they want for their pets to complement their own wardrobes.

“They make requests, which helps us with our ordering,” she says. “Then there are some spring looks that never go out of style.”

A look that will definitely be making another spring comeback is denim, once again reflecting the fashion industry’s love affair with this popular fabric that can be dressed up or down with the right accessories.

Something Extra

26 Bars & a Band has focused on new designs for retractable leashes, appealling to male and female dog owners. 
While it seems that gold and silver collars and leashes are a smart look for pets going places, collars and leashes in eco-friendly fabrics, such as bamboo and hemp, are going to be making both fashion and politically correct statements this coming season.

“Pet owners generally seem to be very conscious about the environment,” says Sonja Ryan, owner of Wagging Green in Melbourne, Fla. “Bamboo is comfortable for the wearer and yet hardwearing in terms of wear and tear. Bright, fun patterns make them a good choice for everyday wear in spring.”

Although trends always fluctuate, the economy does have some impact.

“In these tough economic times, people are more apt to spend on functional items for a new season, such as leashes,” says Sandi Kekona, owner of 26 Bars & a Band in Phillips Ranch, Calif. “We’ve focused on new designs for our retractable leashes that will appeal to both male and female dog owners and all age groups. Buying a leash gives your dog a new look without the owner having to feel guilty that they’ve splurged on unnecessary items.”

April Showers
Floral or checked raincoats in pink and white and black and white are also going to be fashion favorites this spring, especially in places that experience regular April showers.

“Raincoats with detachable hoods give pet owners options,” says Sandy Maroney, designer and co-owner of I See Spot in Los Angeles. “The coats can be worn separately whatever the weather, because they combat any chill in the air, too.”

According to Maroney, designs featuring a D-ring for a leash make it convenient for pet owners to dress their pets and head out of the door quickly.

“Because of the economic climate, pet lovers are going to be making choices when it comes to buying outfits and possibly buying less than they have done in the past, so it’s practical to buy coats that are multipurpose,” Maroney adds. “For the same reason, I think people will look for outfits for their pets that are light and bright and have whimsical sayings to deflect any economic gloom and doom.”

Retailers can stock up on basic T-shirts with fun slogans for pets, since this is a great way to dress up an outfit from a previous season and give it a fashionable new twist.

T-shirts that reflect a pet owner’s own attitude or parody TV show favorites, such as the “Americanine Idol” and Paris Hilton’s latest reality show “My New BFF” will be firm favorites this spring and are an inexpensive way of keeping up with the latest trends. <HOME>

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