Walking the streets of Los Angeles’s Sunset Boulevard or New York’s Park Avenue, the stylish residents who shop at high fashion boutiques aren’t the only ones dressed to impress. Nowadays, their canine counterparts are also decked to the nines, looking ready to sit front row at a fashion show. But don’t be fooled into thinking that fashioning your furry friend is a new trend—it’s a tale as old as time.
Dog collars, the most universal canine accessory, were dogs’ first fashion statement. The origins of dog collars are usually traced to the time of the ancient Egyptians. Hieroglyphics depict dogs wearing beautiful collars that were often stamped with scenes from the dog’s life. But it was actually the ancient Greeks who created collars for practical purposes by adding spikes to them (something that would be considered an edgy fashion statement today.) This functional aspect of early dog fashion can also be seen on stelae reliefs discovered by archaeologists in Mesopotamia—there, short-haired breeds are shown sporting outfits resembling horse blankets to keep them warm.
Dog collars underwent their most stylish transformation centuries later during the Middle Ages. Upper class women treated their dogs as literal accessories, or the Dior bag of Medieval Times, if you will. Dog owners of the Middle Ages began using more quality and luxurious materials for dog collars, including leather, iron, and gemstones.
One of the most transformative fashion players in the pet market was storied Parisian brand Goyard. The brand was one of the first notable fashion companies to develop a pet range back in the late 19th century. Titled “Chic du Chien,” the collection was created for founder Robert Goyard’s French bulldog and was very successful, paving the way for future leather goods and luxury brands to create fashion for dogs. This history still helps Goyard attract customers to this day.
In the 1900s, more people began dressing their dogs in human costumes, and as the decades passed, the trend continued to grow. Arguably, one of the key people responsible for the popularity of dog fashion in the 21st century would be none other than famed socialite and hotel heiress Paris Hilton.
In the early 2000s, Paris Hilton’s fame was at its peak and the press couldn’t get enough of her—or her dog. Her former canine companion, Tinkerbell the Chihuahua, was known for his statement-making outfits that ranged from pink tutus to diamond dog collars. Tinkerbell created a domino effect that led to people styling their canine companions, with full wardrobes for dogs now the gold standard. Dog fashion had become a mainstay rather than a trend.
Dog fashion shows around the globe became increasingly more common, too. During Paris “Fashion Week,” brands like Mulberry or Jean Paul Gaultier share the catwalk with the celebrity Pet Couturier Anthony Rubio, a sought-after Latin American designer whose creations are true works of art—full of semi-precious stones and other colorful details for both Chihuahuas and Bernardines alike. Anthony’s Canine Couture is handcrafted by the designer, utilizing the finest materials to produce one-of-a-kind pieces for your four-legged family member. Over in London, department store Harrods began holding “pet-a-porter” fashion shows. The New York Pet Fashion Show also grew in popularity, and from 2014 to 2020 a portion of the proceeds were donated to the Mayor’s Alliance of NYC for Animals. Sao Paulo Fashion Week also featured dogs.
With the growth of ecommerce, fashion companies began hopping on the dog fashion train. In 2019, luxury streetwear ecommerce site Ssense.com launched a section for dogs. This was the final straw in dog fashion growing to dominate every customer demographic, from those shopping accessible, commercial products, to the same crowd inclined to wait in line at streetwear retailer Supreme.
With the way humans have taken dog styling to such extremes, the global dog clothing and accessories market is projected to reach 16.61 billion dollars by 2028, according to Million Insights. Products have now grown to include everything from dog hair clips to dog baseball caps. Dog fashion has solidified its place in fashion history and is here to stay.