Chinese designer takes fashion to the dogs

Tue Jun 16, 2009 11:40pm EDT
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By Max Duncan

BEIJING (Reuters Life!) - Who says fashion is only for the catwalk? A Chinese designer is creating trendy tracksuits and elegant evening gowns for dogs, turning her passion for canines and couture into a booming business.

Hu Xi, who studied fashion design, is not China's only pet fashion designer, but she is one of the longest lasting in the niche business, with the studio she first set up at home in 2000 still going strong some nine years later.

Hu's six dogs get first pick of her tailored outfits that range from simple jackets to hand-stitched wedding dresses.

But demand from clients in China and abroad has prompted her to open a small factory in Beijing's suburbs.

"From a young age I liked making things by hand, and my mum bought me lots of Barbie dolls and I would make them all sorts of dresses and other clothes," Hu, 27, told Reuters.

"On my 10th birthday my mum gave me a little dog, and from that day on I would dress her up. It was great fun."

Pet ownership in China has ballooned in recent years, in stark contrast to the days when late Chinese leader Mao Zedong banned raising dogs as a bourgeois pastime. Keeping dogs was only made legal a few years ago as living standards rose.

Animal rights groups have also criticized China for cruelty, saying millions of animals, including cats and dogs, are raised for their pelts and inhumanely killed. China, where many people eat dog, is considering its first animal welfare law.   Continued...