Move over Yorkie, New York pet fashion going to the (big) dogs

Thu Feb 7, 2013 7:52pm EST
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By Barbara Goldberg

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Ignored for years by the pet fashion industry and left to dwell in the shadows of tiny dogs in tutus and tiaras, large dogs are finally loping onto the high couture catwalk.

What are they wearing? The chunky prints and large patterned fabrics that would overwhelm smaller dogs, as well as camouflage fleece hoodies, jean jackets and, yes, even ostrich feathers.

Bigger, bulkier dogs are growing more popular, especially in trend-setting New York City, where the Labrador and bulldog gained ground on the list of favorite canines last year, according to the American Kennel Club.

Muscled out of the top spot was the Yorkshire terrier and pushed back even farther was the miniature poodle, small dogs that have long strutted in Ralph Lauren and Roberto Cavalli designs and labels from Barneys, Henri Bendel and other high-end stores.

For big dogs, the naked truth has been that plus-size canine couture was almost nowhere to be found.

Now, the Fashion Institute of Technology, which offers a professional certificate program in pet product design and marketing, is stocking classrooms with dog dressmaker forms from tiny to huge, said Joan Volpe, managing coordinator of the school whose graduates include Calvin Klein, Norma Kamali and Michael Kors.

As bigger dogs grew in popularity, the industry responded.

"Every dog today needs boots. Every dog needs a raincoat. Every dog needs a sweater," she said.   Continued...

Karen Varley, a flight attendant and design student at New York's Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) who owns, a maker of fashions for dogs, measures her pit bull Sugar for a custom sweater in her New York City apartment February 7, 2013. REUTERS/Mike Segar