Never say never. At this point in the fashion business, that’s all I can say. New Fashion markets are on the horizon. Allow me to clarify my point. Over the last decade, I have avoided all requests and pitches to report on canine fashion. It never seemed relevant to my expertise. A few years ago, FIT, where I teach fashion, decided to add classes on styling dog fashion. Although, I was well aware it was on the rise, I still did not take it seriously. The pet food market alone is raking in 36.9 billion dollars annually. Nevertheless, fashion has evolved and segued into niche markets and I am trying my best to keep up to the pace with respect to apparel. Even canine apparel. And since it is Christmas week, and pets are part of the family, I figured the time is ripe for revolution to pull the trigger.
These days, consumers are many times wearing apparel that matches to man’s best friend. Just like the fictitious character Elle Woods, in the Hollywood hit film, Legally Blonde, Americans (both male and female) are taking more and more interest in fashion for the pooch.
As millennials continue to embrace their own generational style, which is laced with distinctive panaches, creative combinations and a strong preference for streetwear, the world is witnessing the rise of new markets within the fashion industry.
As a result of this, consumers have witnessed an interesting combination of drastic changes and dynamic adjustments to fashion trends and preferences in the last few years. For example, luxury lifestyle brands such as Gucci and Dior are pressured to innovate to avoid becoming irrelevant.
However, what’s been happening with fashion is now spilling over into pet fashion. That’s right, pet fashion.
In a word, millennials seemingly want everything about their appearance to look classy, creative, and trendy. To my point, luxury fashion brands such as Nike, Gucci, and Prada, have been the reigning arbiters of style for consumers across the globe.
Nonetheless, today, consumers are seeking creative fashion for their four-legged to match their personal style. Fortunately, there’s Fresh Pawz.
The rise of the dog fashion industry
According to a Forbes report on how millennials are transforming the luxury market, the global luxury market is predicted to rise above €1.3 trillion ($1.5 trillion) by 2025, with experiential luxury growing about 5%, faster than personal luxury at 3%, with accessories and cosmetics expected to gain the most from 2018-2025.
The report also holds that millennials currently represent only about 32% of spending in the personal luxury market, but this number is expected to rise to 50% of the total luxury market by 2025. This potentially poses a challenge to luxury brands but also presents a unique opportunity for expansion within the market.
According to OVRS, millennials have surpassed Baby Boomers —as the generation with the most pets. This love for pets is nothing like the market has never witnessed before. These days, pets are given proper consideration in terms of diet, grooming, and daily products— including fashion.
More to the point, Pet-wear is now a valid market in the fashion industry.
The recent trend has fashionable dog owners dressing up their dogs in equally fashionable wears. Customized unisex dog jackets, dog swimsuits, trendy dog shirts, polos and even hoodies have become the wave in the now multi-faceted dog fashion industry. According to a trendhunter report, major designers are finding their way into the dog market with Gucci recently launching a doggy backpack. MarketWatch reports that the global Dog Apparels market size is projected to reach USD 1237.1 million by 2026, from USD 828.9 million in 2020, at a CAGR of 6.9% during 2021-2026.
Not only are millennials transforming the luxury market in terms of consumption, but they are also seen leading innovation and introducing new products to the market. These new products and improvements on existing ones come as a response to problems they see within the industry.
A good example is Christopher Cargnoni, the founder of Fresh Pawz, a pet brand dedicated to the streetwear culture, who conceived the idea of starting his own company when he couldn’t find the clothes and gear he actually wanted to buy for his dog.
During an interview with Entrepreneur, where he relished the journey to starting Fresh Pawz, he recounted, “In 2017, I started noticing young people walking around with dogs more often, but I noticed the items they were using for their dogs didn’t have any branding or lifestyle expression of any sort. This was sort of my “aha moment”. I immediately started researching the pet market, which sparked my interest even further and eventually led to the establishment of Fresh Pawz.”
For Christopher, whose personal background has always been in the retail market, more specifically the streetwear fast-fashion niche, the vision of Fresh Pawz is founded on a commitment to the dog community. The focus of the brand is on creating products that bridge the gap between culture and dogs.
Fresh Pawz: Streetwear for dogs
Despite the market presence of other dog fashion brands, Fresh Pawz has been able to create a unique path for itself as the official streetwear brand for dogs. This is the comparative advantage that I often refer to in my writing. In fact, what Nike has done with streetwear is exactly what Fresh Pawz is aiming to do with dog fashion.
The brand achieved this through distinctive and fashionable designs, in addition to targeting audiences who have a preference for streetwear culture, just like Christopher, the brand’s CEO.
The streetwear market has risen rapidly in popularity on a global level. What started as a niche market within the sporting fashion space has now become mainstream; thanks to the influence of popular athletes, actors, and other celebrities. The creative, freestyle, and aesthetic design of streetwear make them the right fit for today’s millennials.
The streetwear market is so spontaneous that trends can appear out of the blue and dissipate seemingly overnight. In today’s fast-paced consumer market, luxury brands are now suggested to take advantage of these changing trends to create appealing products.
Years ago, speed, creativity, and a sense of spontaneity were all missing in the dog fashion industry. As Christopher observed, “It’s always been my job and duty to stay on the trends. I soon realized the pet fashion industry was slow on trends and there was no go-to brand for the latest trends happening within the streetwear niche.” So Fresh Pawz exists to bring an on-trend streetwear lifestyle brand to the pet market.
When asked about the brand’s most popular products, the CEO said, “I think it’s a combination of our accessories and our apparel products. New puppy owners buy leash, harness, and apparel products while customers who own established dog(s) replace their current products with ours because our brand represents the lifestyle that they want to extend to their dog.”
Here is where the fashion co-branding gets exciting. Fresh Pawz has collaborated with some of the largest brands in the world such as the NBA, Hello Kitty, MLB, Death Row Records, Nickelodeon, and many more coming down the pipeline. The brand’s products are now sold globally, a testimony to the viability of the chosen niche and the quality of delivery. In addtions, Fresh Pawz also has presence in some of the largest retailers like Target, Fanatics, Petco, Zumiez, Macy’s, Nordstrom, etc.
One of the brand’s biggest achievements so far is the successful launch of the first-ever actual sneaker for dogs. The product went viral across major publications and ignited a great increase in sales and traffic to the brand’s website.
The future of dog fashion
The growth in the pet fashion industry has been steady and the leadership of Fresh Pawz foresees better days for the industry, especially within the dog fashion space. In response to this, Fresh Pawz is at the forefront of bringing the best products, collaborations, and marketing strategies to the market.
Speaking on the pandemic, Christopher had this to say, “We’ve adapted to the challenges presented by the pandemic of 2020 very well and have actually seen an increase of over 300% in sales year to date. Our retail partners are also performing well with our products and are expanding with us next year.”
The voice, collaborations, design process, and content of the brand all represent the streetwear culture. Having collaborated with some of the largest brands in the world, coupled with tangible presence in some of the largest retailers; Fresh Pawz is truly the Nike of dog fashion.