Functional, Fashionable and Fun
Dog clothing is a very broad topic that attracts a wide range of customers for a variety of different reasons.
For some, it’s purely cosmetic. They want to dress their dog in a costume for a special occasion, like a Halloween, St. Patrick’s Day or a birthday. For others, it’s about functionality, style or necessity. And some, just do it for fun.
The good news about this for retailers is that clothing is an accessory that can be sold year round as long as retailers keep up with the trends going on in the world.
“When a movie comes out like Man of Steel this year, it certainly affects the sales,” Erin Breig, top dog at Rubie’s Pet Shop Boutique, said. “Superman pet costumes is one of our top sellers. Even the celebrations, such as the Wizard of Oz celebrating its 75th anniversary this year and we have seen a lot of interest in the Wizard of Oz costumes.”
While Halloween is obviously the top time to sell pet costumes, it’s not the only time. Breig said she has seen high sales during Christmas, St. Patrick’s Day, Mardi Gras and birthdays.
“We came out with 100 new styles this year,” Breig said. “That includes accessories, costumes and licensed goods. The one thing that does make us stand out is that we carry the top licenses. We are also one of the only places you will see a full line of mix and match accessories for pets.”
Accessories have become extremely popular during any parade and celebration, such as St. Patrick’s Day and Mardi Gras and is a great time to boost sales at a pet store.
Also, retailers need to be prepared for cultural events that happen that you couldn’t plan for.
“With Halloween, something can happen and all of a sudden everyone wants to dress up for it,” Breig said. “We might know a movie is coming out and we plan for it, but there is a lot you can’t plan for. One example is Miley Cyrus at the VMAs going crazy. We couldn’t plan for that. We know people will dress up like her now, and while we don’t have the licensed products for it we may see that a blonde wig is selling really well.
“Also, last year when there were comments about big bird in the Republican party and all of that, all of a sudden that costume, which we don’t carry, we saw selling at some of our retailers. It’s really about what’s going on in the world and the movies we plan for.”
Legitimutt looks toward the fashion runways from around the world when they design their collections, such as their warm plaids, sporty techno fabrics and even some luxe items like ultra suede, Boucle and Alpaca.
“Legitimutt’s supple leather collars and leashes come in an array of bright colors as well as we have a new embossed collection of chic Croc leather collars and leashes in red, black and navy,” Brian Long from Legitimutt said. “I think one of the main things that sets us apart from the rest of the pack is that we are 100 percent Made in America. All of our merchandise is designed and manufactured in Florida. We use fine fabrics and finishes and we strive to always create sophisticated merchandise that is never kitchy.”
Melissa Corrigan, fashion pet divisional manager for Ethical Pet Products, said the recent trend in dog clothing follows human fashion, bright colors, plaids, patterns and stripes.
“The human trend is interpreted in appropriately for pet and must include functional aspects such as waterproof fabric and warm linings,” Corrigan said. “Sweaters are a key category for pets, they are warm and easy to fit a wide range of dog sizes.”
Corrigan also said the trend in pet fashion is moving to a more basic and functional look that appeal to both small and larger dog owners. It is important to have apparel that the owner can relate to and looks similar to the type of clothing they themselves might wear.
Also, pet clothing has another extremely important feature.
“Pajama’s are an important category,” Corrigan said. “They provide warmth and comfort and for dogs that sleep with their owners, it prevents fur and dirt from getting on the bed.”
For example, PetRageous Designs, founded by Gretchen George, offers a variety of pajamas, including thermal ones. In addition, they offer nonskid socks.