Guest Blogger and Industry Insider Charlotte Reed on Pet Fashion WeekPublished September 28, 2010
Held at the Manhattan's Metropolitan Pavilion, Pet Fashion Week provides a preview of fall and winter fashions by notable and new pet designers. Like most industries, the pet industry - specifically the luxury marketplace - has been affected by the unstable economy. As result, a smaller number of designers showcased their wares and fewer retailers and VIP pet fashionistas attended this tradeshow. From beautiful leather jackets to recycled, doggie tees, 23 vendors from around the globe provided a taste of what's to come for man's best friend. Over the last few years, design team Bjorn and Anne Gardsby, of Manfred of Sweden, have traveled around the globe to Japan, Brazil and back again to New York with Pet Fashion Week. The company, named after the designer couple's cute Yorkie, could be considered the Bottega Veneta of the dog world. According to Bjorn, "Manfred is not for everyone, nor in everyone's budget." Obviously, with trendy, interwoven lambskin jackets priced at 437,50 €. For the non-European customer, Manfred's web store comes equipped with euro to dollar converter, pricing this particular jacket at only $574. Although Bjorn boasted of his wife's creativity and showcased their show-stopping pet clothing at the annual Harrod's Pret-a-Porter doggie fashion show, as well as contributed their designs to European museums, exhibitions, etc., he surprisingly fell short when asked "What would you design for Lisbeth Salander if she had a dog?" His response, "Depends, on if she could pay!" I must admit a thoroughly disappointing answer, considering the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is an international superstar and fellow Swede. For those interested in celebrity style, Beth Ostrosky Stern, wife of shock jock Howard Stern, worked with Bling Bone to create a line of pet jewelry. Bling Bone, a bone-shaped product line of earrings, rings, necklaces and more, made from precious and semi-precious metals and stones, is owned by the Winick family. The Winick family has been in the jewelry business for over 45 years. Howard Winick has been selling jewelry to Stern for the last five years, including Beth's engagement ring. The friendship with the clients eventually grew into a collaboration between the wives, with proceeds of the Beth O. line benefiting The North Shore Animal League America. Let's face it. Bone-shaped jewelry is not a groundbreaking idea and has been done over and over again, in all price ranges, but the Bling Bone designer is Winick's lovely Brazilian wife, Sandra. The model-turned-jewelry-designer is warm and friendly, and exudes that lovely South American charm. Sandra has recently ventured out of her design category and created carriers. The beautiful carriers were straight-up Brazilian beach chic with their whimsical style, mélange of recycled fabrics and textiles and graffiti-style painted words like "Amor." Although she has a baby now, I can see super glamazon, Giselle Bunchen, carrying her first baby, Yorkie Vida, in one of these carriers- even in Boston. While some designers continue to create extravagant wares, others are making conscious efforts to help our planet and its people. Knitwear designer, Lisa Barnes, of LMB Designs, used Pet Fashion Week to launch her line of pet sweaters. Her creations, made from earth-friendly materials, give back to the world community. Through collaboration with women's artisan collective groups, LMB Designs provides support and jobs for women around the world. With retail prices starting at $65, this new designer should do well with her functionally-designed sweaters, especially with urban do-gooders concerned about the environment. Other than clothes, there was an abundance of designers peddling leashes and collars. Canine Convertibles by American designer Kim Quillen made me believe I could still find innovative and stylish pet fashions at a reasonable prices. West Virginian Quillen, who started out as a shoe designer with a mantra of "Don't change your shoes, change your tops," has now applied that concept to leashes and collars. Her leashes and collars available in leather ($65) and PVC ($35), can be dressed up with removable stones and fabrics ($20+) that easily snap on and off. By next year, I expect to find her collars and leashes selling very well. Like all fashion, pet fashion continues to change, and so does Pet Fashion Week. Pet Fashion Week was created at the height of the luxury market, when some pet owners gave no thought to purchasing $100+ leash and collars sets. Gone are the days when Pet Fashion Week packed them in like sardines. Also gone is the lux fashion show which was a spectacle of third rate models walking down the red carpet with elegant and pedigreed chiens. The show was always filmed by a number of production companies, including Animal Planet, so that pet owners could watch with their pooches from home as worldly canine mannequins, accented with doggy paint and dressed in "me-too" clothing, posed at the end of the runway. Charlotte Reed is an international pet media expert and owner of Two Dogs and Goat Pet Care. Image 1: For $574, the Classic Interwoven Jacket in cognac is delivered in black, cotton dust bag with Manfred of Sweden logo. Image 2: International pet power couple: Designers Bjorn and Anne Gardsby of Manfred of Sweden. Image 3:Just like her book, Oh My Dog, Beth Stern's collection of necklaces, bracelets and earrings with Bling Bone benefits the North Shore Animal League America. Image 4: LMB's Lisa Barnes signature sweater inspired by the Turtleback terrapin is for the eco-conscious pet-owner.