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Pet Parents Embrace Functional Apparel, Holiday Costumes


As the summer is slowly coming to an end, many pet parents are gearing up for cooler weather and fall fashion. The change in season means potentially dangerous weather that can cause issues for companion animals.

However, the fall season also means it’s time for celebration. With a little luck, pet parents will be spending the rest of 2021 going all out for the holiday season, starting with Halloween and then Thanksgiving. Whether it’s for function or fashion, the pet clothing industry continues to provide a wide variety of pet apparel to consumers across the country.

One pet accessory that is useful all year long is dog boots as it protects your dog from freezing temperatures, searing hot pavement, dog run bacteria, viruses, allergens and more. Cold weather brings in snow and ice, meaning people and businesses spread harmful ice melts on pavements. These melts, though great for preventing icing, contain ingredients that can range from seriously toxic to non-toxic. Commonly used chemicals, including calcium chloride and sodium chloride, can hurt a dog’s paws, and many are toxic if licked. Ingestion of melts can cause different degrees of symptoms and health issues.

Ingestion is a possible danger, but direct paw to ice melt contact can cause the pads to become irritated, cracked or even bleed. Snow itself can cause discomfort to dogs as it can ball up and stick onto the fur on the paws. PoochieBoots was created in 2015 to combat the snow after founder Karyn Peck saw her dog struggling during the wintertime in New York.

She said, “I was on a mission [to find a boot], but nothing was great. I thought ‘Why isn’t there a boot that’s
super functional and super stylish as well?’ I have a thing for shoes so if dogs need shoes why shouldn’t they be fashionable? My own dog needed boots, [but] I saw a bigger picture and went for it.”

Taking inspiration from high end human shoe designers, PoochieBoots dog boots feature a soft red sole and interchangeable straps to match their human or for special occasions. These reusable boots are made to stay on with Velcro straps and are fleece lined for winter conditions.

“A big problem with dog boots that I’ve heard over the years is that the boots won’t stay on. Our boots go from a size zero up to a size six. Incrementally it’s such a small difference, but that difference is what keeps the boots on,” Peck said.

Dog boots are also useful when it’s particularly warm outside — due to a heat wave or just seasonally — pavements heat up and pose a threat to your dog’s paws. The pavement temperatures are significantly warmer than the temperature of the air and can burn the bottom of the paw pad leaving your pup with open wounds susceptible to infection. Booties made for the hot weather should be lightweight and breathable as dogs release body heat by panting and through their paw pads.

The creators of PawZ Rubber Dog Boots, father and son duo Michael and Gary Friedland, also saw the need for a product that could protect paw pads without constantly slipping off. Gary had tried a number of boots to protect his dog Huckleberry’s paws from hazards, but kept running into a problem: he couldn’t keep the boots on Huckleberry’s paws.

Dog owners are able to put the biodegradable rubber boots on with ease and can rest assured that they will stay on. Michael Friedland, PawZ president and co-founder, explained the boots can stretch over the paw and dogs “can stretch their paw and get a good webbing.”

“This product was designed to be very easy for dog’s to accept being that it’s just a thin layer of rubber separating the paw from the pavement,” Michael Friedland said. “They feel the ground [beneath them] so it gives them a sense of security.”

Created to keep dogs healthy, protect their paws from injury and keep homes clean while staying securely on your pups’s paws, PawZ Rubber Dog Boots come in a range of colors and sizes, from tiny to extra large.

Pet fashion not only serves a functional purpose, but is also a way for owners to include their pet in festivities such as Halloween. Royal Animals founder Susan Traub created the brand 14 years ago “with the understanding that our pets should wear and feel wonderful in their outfits the same way humans do.”

The company has a line of dog costumes featuring a snowman and dragon with head slits for added functionality.

“Our pet holiday and Halloween styles seem to be running neck and neck in popularity. Our styles are classic with a fashion forward touch, attractive [and] comfortable, with adjustable velcro making all our styles to easily fit your dog,” said Traub.

In addition to costumes, Royal Animals also offers a line of officially licensed NYPD and FDNY gear, including sweatshirts and coats, which are made with quality and safety in mind. Designs feature Velcro straps, finished leash holes to prevent ripping and snaps or buttons that are difficult for the dog to reach, all with soft plush linings and reflective safety strips. The brand also plans to release new gear after securing the license for the U.S. Army. Traub said the company is “designing an exclusive line that will be true to their uniform with a touch of pet fun.”

SnugPups makes pet clothing that is for the owner as much as it is for the dog. With product lines inspired by musicians, first responders, the designers on Madison Avenue and the Champs-Elysee and more, this collection has something for everyone, and every dog.

For founder Gail Thomas, it was important that SnugPups creates quality products and gives back to the community. In order to do this, SnugPups created a charitable program with firefighters across the country.
Its specialty and original Firefighter Dog Coat is up-cycled from a 100 percent genuine firefighter’s turnout coat. The turnout coats have been donated to the company from various fire stations across the Northeast.

“Fire coats can only be kept for 10 years whether they’re in good shape or not,” Thomas explained. “A lot of fire companies have mountains of used gear that they’re going to throw in the dump,  so we take it off their hands. They give it to us and we give them a donation up front, and then we give them 20 percent of every sale.”

Pet Krewe, the Louisiana-based pet costume and toy retailer, believes in the importance of costumes as it tells a story while clothing makes a statement. The company designs dog and cat costumes ranging from a “Sesame Street” costume collection to a sailor costume.

PetKrewe_Jan2021_-9326 (1)Founder and CEO, Allison Albert notes that Pet Krewe aims to offer cohesive pet fashion, much like in human fashion. The company has a partnership program with “Sesame Street’’ that is featured in PetSmart Canada and includes a Cookie Monster dog tank top with a matching harness, collar, leash, poop bag, toys and treats. Pet Krewe is set to release new costumes this fall, like a dog hula girl costume, just in time for the holiday season.

New releases and innovative designs are popping up across the clothing and accessories market as the humanization trends creeps its way in. Gretchen George, president of PetRageous Designs, understands that pet owners are looking for garments that are comparable to human apparel and watches trends in human fashion for inspiration.
“Modern pet parents want clothing that is built to last and is simple to use.

Unlike the earlier days of dog apparel, modern pet parents now know that their dogs do get cold, [depending on] where they live, and want to invest in a quality winter coat that fits great and washes well too,” said George.

PetRageous Designs has developed a new version of its Kodiak Coat that is coming this fall. Th e coat features a unique and innovative fabric with reflective speckles that makes the back of the jacket sparkle when in contact with a light source. Ideal for cool late night walks, the jacket is also a machine washable, wind and waterproof garment that is fleece-lined with full chest coverage.

Besides the humanization trend in the pet space, sustainability has had a major influence on consumer buying. People are more concerned now than ever about how products are made and how it affects the environment. Several years ago Ethical Pet’s New Jersey facility became solar powered as Susan Calles, national marketing manager at Ethical Pet, said the company “recognized early on that sustainability was a major trend and very important to consumers.”

The brand aims to sell quality products that are functional, a good value and off er solutions to pet owners and their pets. “We always look at the current [human fashion] trends and interpret them appropriately for pets in terms of style, fabrics and functionality,” Calles said. “Pet owners are increasingly treating their pets like members of the family. Because of this, we see trends in functionality are key.”

The Classic Cable Sweater by Ethical Pet was designed with comfort ease in mind. Th e full-length sweater features bright color combinations with a turtleneck, a leash hole for comfort during walks and ranges from size XXXS to XXL. Created in 1992, Ruff wear was built on the philosophy of sustainability. Although it has been in business for over 25 years, the brand keeps updating its products to stay on trend. Susan Strible, director of marketing at Ruff wear, believes that its mission plays an important role in Ruffwear’s success.

“We know that consumers want to support brands that are mission-driven and stand for issues they care about, like the environment and sustainability,” she explained. “At Ruffwear, we not only make great dog gear, we exist to unleash possibility through a life of discovery by inspiring dog and human connections outdoors.”

This fall, Ruffwear has a product launch to reveal changes to popular products as well as introduce a new product called the Undercoat. Released in late August, the Undercoat is a water jacket that keeps dogs warm in cold and wet environments, including in the water.

Zippy Dynamics, a pet clothing company that launched in 2017, knows that wet environments mean a headache for dog owners. The company’s products shield dogs from cold, dirt, dust, sand, mud, snow and water, which means “less time struggling in the bathtub and more time exploring or relaxing,” according to its website.

Founder and owner Alex Rabinovich originally started the brand with four full body suits, but has since expanded to include raincoats, coats, parkas, vests and accessories. The Zippy Dynamics Rainy Raincoat is a lightweight, waterproof and protective fashion statement. It features a bright yellow design made from the quality materials with a detachable hood designed to naturally follow your pups head movements, keeping them protected. Cut-lines on the hood and pants allow owners to adjust the length of the visor and pants for a custom fit.

The newest addition to the lineup coming this fall will be a detachable vest inside the products for extra warmth. If the owner doesn’t think the vest is needed because it is warm enough outside, Rabinovich explained they can simply remove it themselves.

Pets nowadays are considered part of the family. The pandemic forced Americans to stay in their homes for months and pets were a major source of comfort. It’s not uncommon for people to get their pet clothing/accessories but that wasn’t always the case. Pampet started making costumes and clothing for dogs back in 1988, before anyone was thinking about putting clothing on their dogs. The bumble bee was its first costume but now the company’s portfolio spans over 100 costumes and clothing items. Handmade from quality fabric with an attention to detail, Pampet costumes are known for their durability as well as their bright, colorful designs.

“We’ve had a good response from our customers,” Pampet founder Bill Viscome said. “They like the fact that [our costumes] last; they last more than one season. The costumes are for all seasons, not just Halloween or Christmas. Just about every holiday there is, we have something for you: Saint Patrick’s Day, Mardi Gras, Fourth of July, etc.”

Besides its large number of clothing and accessories options, Pampet sizing has a diverse range. As the website describes, “fit is the most important thing for the company as it wants the pups to be safe and comfortable.”

A functional, well-fitting product is a necessity across the board for manufacturers, retailers and pet parents. Pet parents want to know their dogs are protected from the elements while also looking stylish.

It’s beneficial for retailers to have an assortment of apparel items in stock for customers to purchase year-round. Before ordering apparel products, be sure to consider your climate and customer base, then stock your shelves with the appropriate products that will connect with consumers.

Finally, retailers would be wise to consider a seasonal section of the store where clothing products can be on display. During the summer months, for example, the display should feature dog mannequins wearing warm weather products like dog life jackets. However, in the winter, such products as fleece-lined coats can be front and center. If you’re in tune with your customers’ needs, they’ll be coming to you for all their pet apparel needs.

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