Fashion and Function Lead the Collar Category

Sandy Robins//October 8, 2014//

Fashion and Function Lead the Collar Category

Sandy Robins //October 8, 2014//

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Even if cats are microchipped, owners understand the benefit of doubling up on identification by means of a collar with an ID tag. But the focus doesn’t have to be only functional; fashion plays a huge role in collar selection, too.

“Our customers love cat-centric designs”, said Donna Bodel marketing director for Up Country Inc. “The most popular are the Tropical Fish, Songbird, Mouse and Say Cheese designs. Despite being whimsical, the colors are bright and show up well on a small neck.”

This past April, Lupine Pet Accessories introduced their new Eco collection. The material is made from recycled plastic bottles, which are cleaned, melted, purified and then turned into thread. This is woven into a very soft yet strong material with an interesting texture.

“We chose nine colors, all inspired by nature,” said Tracy McCarthy.  “It’s so much fun to bring out new designs. Colors and themes certainly seem to have cycles of popularity. But often it’s difficult to gauge what’s going to resonate with buyers until you put it out there.”

According to Angela Wharton, Petmate product manager for collars, leashes and containment, Petmate is seeing an increase in mixed materials and embellished collars, as well as upgraded hardware.

“Consumers are being drawn to innovative designs and more fashionable, brighter color palettes,” she said. “Fashion has become the number one driver in collar selection. Additionally, consumers are more apt now than ever before to have multiple sets of collars due to the humanization of pets. And this trend towards treating pets as family members has in turn increased the number of pets that travel with their people.

“Pets go shopping with us, are now allowed in many restaurants and continue to interact more and more in our daily lives,” she said. “This leads consumers to not only look at fashion but also to look at safety and durability as purchase drivers. Attributes such as secure fasteners; reinforced stitching and overall durability are also top of mind when a consumer is making their selections at retail.”

The trend for multiple collars was further endorsed by Amanda Meadows, a long time sale associate at The Cat Connection in Dallas.

“There’s no question that cat owners like to change things up seasonally for their cats and will even change out a collar for holidays such as Halloween and Christmas,” she said. “Fun bright collars sell the best. Currently there seems to be less emphasis on bling when it comes to felines.”

Meadows also noted that top sellers in the store were collars from Beastie Bands that use Velcro for the breakaway concept. The collars stretch along their entire length for safety and are designed with a unique cut-to-fit feature that allows them to fit any cat or kitten.

There is also a big move to offer cat owners the choice of with bells or without.

“We have found that we sell double the amount of cat collars with a bell,” said McCarthy. “Even indoors, I think some consumers like to know where the cat is, or perhaps let one cat in the household know where another cat is.”

“The demand for collars without bells is primarily sought for ‘working’ cats on mouse-patrol or when the collar is strictly for carrying identification. Ultimately a breakaway buckle is of supreme important. Even indoors, there are plenty of ways and places a cat can get caught. We label our cat collars ‘for identification only’. “

Petmate still adheres to the tradition of bells on cat collars, but Wharton acknowledges the now growing trend to keep cats indoors is giving pet owners the option to purchase without a bell.

“We have started attaching bells with “lobster” style clasps to our collars with D-rings, which makes them very easy to remove,” said Wharton.

According to Diane Thomas, Coastal Pet Products’ marketing manager, the company is having a good response to their latest feline collar collection namely the New Earth Soy Cat Collars featuring all-natural fibers.

“And blues and greens are very popular as they match cats’ eyes,” said Thomas. “Our jeweled-buckle cat collars with glitter overlay have also shown to be very popular amongst cat owners.”

Despite the name of the company being called The Good Dog Company, Wendy Schuchart and her husband Zach have a range of hemp cat collars in a selection of plain colors.

“Hemp is a natural fiber,” explained Schuchart. “Therefore it allows breathing through the fabric similar to that of a cotton t-shirt. Our cat collars are 55 percent hemp, 45 percent muslin which makes them lightweight and also hypoallergenic and antimicrobial so that they don’t absorb odors. Further, being a natural fiber, hemp doesn’t rub away the hair under the collar so it’s ideal for sensitive skins too.”