There are Gucci hats made in Italy from pink bouclé wool, Celine travel bags with calfskin trim and a purse (waste bag) decorated with gold spikes. But these aren’t just any designer fashion items…they’re made for clients with four legs and a tail.
Last year, a number of fashion houses launched collections for pets, including Gucci, Celine, Tommy Hilfiger, Hugo Boss and Christian Louboutin. Dolly Parton also launched her own clothing line for dogs in 2022 under the name Doggy Parton.
Even the catwalk (or promenade?) found room for your furry friend. This month, the fashion calendar kicked off with the menswear event Pitti Uomo in Italy, and alongside the latest styles for men, there was a new event, PittiPets, dedicated to clothing, accessories and homewares for cats and dogs.
“For some time we have been thinking about expanding the boundaries of the Pitti Uomo lifestyle,” says Antonio Cristaudo, director of Pitti Immagine. “The growing market has been created as a result of strong consumer demand.”
The global pet apparel market is expected to be worth $7 billion by 2032 with an annual growth rate of 5%. Pet apparel sales are up 21% since 2019, and the average amount owners spend is up 9%. Dogs have the biggest closets, and 60% of pet clothing is bought by their owners. In the UK alone, annual spending on pets exceeded £7.5 billion in 2020, according to the Pet Food Manufacturers Association, and there are more than 34 million UK pets.
Some of the newer offerings are inspired by the designers’ pets. Gucci’s collection of sweaters, coats and travel bags was made with creative director Alessandro Michele’s Boston terriers Bosco and Osco in mind. Celine’s range of poles, poo bags and bowls, designed by Hedi Slimane, were created for his labradoodle, Elvis.
This is not just a luxury fashion trend. High-street brands such as H&M have also created clothes for dogs. Chris Corbin, commercial director at the UK’s biggest pet care chain Pets at Home, said sales of jumpers and hoodies for dogs were up more than 60% on the previous year. “This is driven by an increasing number of pet owners, and pets are becoming an integral part of the family in a growing trend of humanization.”
Changes in the demographics of pet owners have helped drive this trend. Almost two-thirds of recent pet owners in the UK are aged between 16 and 34. These millennial and Gen Z owners tend to treat their pets as an extension of their human family and are more likely to buy food, accessories and clothing similar to the products they would buy for themselves.
Ileana Ciamarone, co-founder of sustainable Italian pet brand Omniagioia, has created dog bowls, sweaters and coats using recycled materials and 3D printing. Eco-friendly products that reduce the carbon footprint of a pet’s paw are becoming increasingly popular, she says. “The pet care market consumes large amounts of plastic materials, so our goal was to reduce the use of 100% recyclable materials. Our line also has a minimal aesthetic for people who love animals and design.”
Interest in animal apparel has coincided with the rise of pet influencers on Instagram and TikTok. Italian Greyhound Tika the Iggy and Boobie Billie, an Italian Greyhound Chihuahua mix, are leading the pack on social media with brand deals and fashion collaborations.
Tea Kainu is the CEO of Paikka, a Finnish pet clothing brand that presents at PittiPets. She has been making coats for her dogs since she was 14 and believes that their clothing should be viewed in the same way as human fashion. “You can design products from a dog’s perspective, but still make them modern. Clothing should also be in department stores and lifestyle stores, not pet shops,” she says.
“Why not buy your furry friend’s winter jacket in the same place and at the same time as you shop for yourself? And, at best, those jackets would fit.”