Bruiser Woods (or his handler) might have been onto something in the 2001 movie "Legally Blonde." The fashionable Chihuahua companion to Reese Witherspoon's Elle Woods seemed to be in a new outfit as often as his mistress.
Fourteen years later, the dog fashion industry is intent on making sure your pet is pampered in style. A Google search finds such results as Shea butter shampoo and conditioner for $14 at Harry Barker, leopard-print bikinis — yeah, dog bikinis — at Bitch NY for $33, a My Canine Kid reversible parka for $56 and a waterproof raincoat by Hurrta for $75. (If getting ready to go out is just too exhausting, there's a luxury dog sofa by Snoozer for $190 and a Refined Canine chaise longue for $258.)
The idea of clothing pets has practical roots. "People have always thought that if our dog is old or thin or has short hair, some kind of warmth and covering was good" for health reasons, said Dana Humphrey, owner of pet industry public relations firm Whitegate PR. "And it's natural that once you have something new, you want to embellish a little bit."
Laurren Darr, founder of the International Assn. of Pet Fashion Professionals, credits celebrities such as Paris Hilton, who took her Chihuahua, Tinkerbell, around in diamond collars while he rode in high-end totes, for the industry's initial rise in popular culture. Humphrey points to Tori Spelling, who dressed her dogs in tuxedos and gowns for a wedding.
Now, according to the American Pet Products Assn., the U.S. pet care industry will top $60 billion for the first time this year. Almost $14.4 billion of that will be spent on pet supplies, including apparel.
What are some essentials for the fashion-forward hound? We asked some local experts for recommendations.
Fifi & Romeo
Yana Syrkin, costume designer for the 1997-2002 Fox series "Ally McBeal," opened her by-appointment-only shop more than 17 years ago and counts Bruiser Woods among celebrity clients. Her chic fashions are locally made using recycled cashmere, accessorized with embroidery or beading. Fifi & Romeo will also create matching outfits for owners. Cashmere sweaters ($220 and up) and beds ($340 and up) are the must-haves.
Max-bone owners Max and Parisa Fowles-Pazdro are not fans of the "flashy, bedazzled" looks on the market; they're going for something minimalist and a little more elegant. Though there is no Max-bone brick-and-mortar shop, their products can be found in a number of stores in New York, Los Angeles and Australia. The couple recommends their William bow tie ($45), Grace hoodie ($45), Willie jumper ($35) or Maddox bandanna ($35).
D.O.G. Pet Boutique
When Chris Price adopted his Chihuahua-mix Bailey in 2006, he wanted the dog to be the best dressed in town. So later that year, he and his business partner, Christian Velasco, opened D.O.G. ("Dogs of Glamour"), catering to owners who want their pups to be the trendiest in the dog park. Carrie Underwood, John Legend and CeeLo Green visit regularly. Price suggests the D.O.G. Glam tote carrier ($190), Coco Ruffle dress ($55) or Dogs of Glamour T-shirt ($35).