Forget the cat-walk, pooches are putting their best paws forward
Dogs wearing Moschino leather jackets and Marc Jacobs tracksuits may have been seen as a form of paradoxical art like the anthropomorphic dog portraits by American photographer William Wegman, but today, it has become common for pooches to have a full wardrobe ready to go for daily walks in the park, whatever the weather.
The trend of luxe dog apparel stems from a movement called “Pet Me.” It is comprised of a growing group of people who identify themselves in their pets and generously spend on their care, particularly on fashion.
Fashion brands have been quick to respond to the heightened demand from pet lovers, enthusiastically launching their own pet clothing lines and collections each season.
Italian luxury clothing brand Moncler’s Poldo Dog Couture is a representative case of a high-end brand launching its own pet clothing line.
Moncler’s winter pet line offers a wide variety of warm pet garments for the winter season such as their famous goose down parkas and superfine wool sweaters.
With reversible puffer jackets and detachable hoods that are manufactured 100 percent in Italy, these miniature pieces of clothing have no less detail than those for humans.
Moschino, another Italian luxury brand, joined the booming market in November with its own pet collection.
Known for witty and unique designs, the brand’s creative director Jeremy Scott has designed leather jackets, trench coats, hoodies and party dresses for this year’s winter pet collection.
Fendi also released dog coats imprinted with its logo this winter season. Prices for these coats start at 570,000 won ($480).
The trend of pet apparel has especially grown popular as more Koreans have become pet owners.
A KB Research Institute’s report titled “2021 Korea Pet report” found that 6.04 million or 29.7 percent of all households had a pet. This amounts to one in every four Koreans being a pet owner.
As the pet owner population increases, the national pet supplies market grew 78.9 percent in five years, from 1.9 trillion won in 2015 to 3.4 trillion won in 2020, according to Korea Rural Economic Institute. The market is projected to grow to 6 trillion won in 2027.
Sports brands have also entered the pet clothing market as more people desire to enjoy hobbies with their four-legged friends.
“As a growing number of people consider their pets as an extension of their families, there have been more people who are looking for activities to enjoy with their pets,” said Lee Sang-hyeon, CEO of Callaway Golf Korea.
Callaway Golf Korea officially launched its pet apparel in October.
Kolon FnC, a premium Korean outdoor brand, relaunched its kids line with the addition of pet clothing.
The brand’s promotional photos with matching hers-and-its tracksuits showed that pets have truly become part of families.
Lee So-yeon, 25, is the owner of a Maltese and an avid shopper for dog apparel as well. She says that while there are practical reasons for purchasing dog clothes, she mostly buys them because they are cute.
"My dog does get cold during winter, so that is partly the reason I buy him clothes, but mostly, I buy them because they are so cute and he looks so good in pictures," said Lee.
"Recently, I bought him a shearling coat!"
Currently, there is no data that shows whether it is actually beneficial for dogs to wear clothing.
"But during wintertime, when dogs go on long walks, it can't hurt for them to have some extra layers on," said a member of staff at an animal hospital in Seongnam.
Pet care goes beyond fashion.
French luxury brand Hermes sells pet amenities such as carrier bags for 3.45 million won; leashes for 960,000 won; collars for 800,000 won; and bowls for 1.53 million won on its website.
Fendi also sells canine furniture and carriers on its homepage.
Expensive pet cosmetics are also gaining popularity.
Eight-hundred-year old Italian life style brand Santa Maria Novella has been producing premium pet collections since 2015. Since then, their pet toiletries sales have shot up 729 percent.
Today, their 45,000-won shampoos and 57,000-won pest repellent lotions are so popular that they quickly sell out after being released.
Kiehl’s, a New York-based cosmetic brand, also decided to tap into the pet market, launching a dog shampoo and conditioner with chamomile extract.
Experts say that the psychology behind the trending “Pet Me” movement is the need to show off and the desire to enjoy small luxe pleasures.
“The idea of self has been expanded from social media to pets,” said Lee Hyang, author of the series “Trend Korea” and Managing Director of Customer Experience and Innovation at LG Electronics.
“Therefore, giving a gift to one’s pet has been equated with giving oneself the gift. It’s essentially an effort by a generation to compliment and reward themselves.”
BY SEO JEONG-MIN [firstname.lastname@example.org]