by Vincent Denis, Four Paws Pet Grocery & Boutique –
When Julio, one of our newly-rescued Californian Chihuahuas, looked out the front door at the deluge of rain falling and decided to forgo a morning jaunt in favour of the couch, my partner Christine and I knew we’d have to become those people with a closet full of dog apparel.
What we quickly learned was that the type of clothing available from the big corporate chains was as plentiful as it was low quality. Kitschy slogans on miniature T-shirts, cheesy bumblebee costumes and ill-fitting pajamas dominated the shelves.
Fast forward two years, and with the opening of our store, Four Paws Pet Grocery & Boutique, we’ve realized that it isn’t hard to source good quality, functional and fashion-conscious pet apparel. Fortunately for us pet parents, two trends are driving the industry. The first is a burgeoning interest in better quality and more technical clothing and the second is a rapid growth in the availability of higher end, boutique-style clothing.
“Humanization continues to drive innovation in pet apparel, as guardians look for technical fabrics and function that address their concerns and needs when it comes to their pet,” says Jill Connolly, Creative Director for RC Pets, a Vancouver area pet apparel company. Heading into summer, their new Zephyr Cooling Vest is a great example as its “unique fabric helps to cool down dogs without adding bulk or weight, allowing the dog to spend more time outside on adventures.”
RC Pets’ determination to innovate combined with an unsurpassed customer service ethic has allowed them to prosper in an environment where competition gets fiercer with every season. “Our products are designed to not just look good but also to perform superbly under all conditions” says Jill. “We design products you can trust to enjoy a happier life together with your pets.”
The flip side of the industry is the “boutique-style” clothing lines. Eco-Pup, another Vancouver-based dog apparel company, specializes in bamboo, organic, recycled and eco-friendly fabrics. Susanne Postill founded the company in 2008 after realizing that the more stylish doggie apparel offerings were mainly synthetic and “big box” styles. She says: “While there are always functional staples such as sweaters for winter, dog apparel is evolving to be more like children’s wear. With different options of fun prints and bright colour it gives pet owners a more playful side of dog clothing, rather than something that is purely functional, like a raincoat.” Eco-Pup’s stylish, modern offerings include hoodies, T-shirts and pajamas in patterns that will let your dog strut his stuff like a high-fashion model on the runway. We often refer to them as the Lululemon of dog clothes.
Fortunately for Julio, dog apparel has come a long way and now his “closet” is full of stretchy fleeces, technical raincoats, cozy sweaters and yes, even a few bowties. So whether your pup is an Instagram diva or enjoys long hikes on the Peninsula, one of your locally owned pet supply stores is sure to get your four-legged friend properly outfitted.
Photo courtesy @ecopup