Canine style unleashed as dogs hit catwalks in Tokyo

by Kazuaki Nagata

These days, dogs want to be in fashion, too.

Japan’s first New Year Dog Party kicked off at Tokyo Big Sight on Saturday, featuring a variety of activities and booths ranging from photo sessions, dog yoga, and speed-eating contests to stores for visitors and their furry friends.

The two-day event is also hosting Pet Fashion Week NY, the annual New York City trade show that began in 2006 as an event for people in the pet industry.

Like the human version, the canine fashion show also features models strutting down catwalks but accompanied by dogs in matching clothes. Many of the event’s canine visitors Saturday were also in style, some sporting sunglasses, caps and even accessories.

Reflecting the growing trend of dog fashion, many canine-focused companies across Japan set up shops at the event to sell such offbeat offerings as professional baseball uniforms and fancy dresses with spangles.

In all, New Year Dog Party attracted 42 companies, with 11 of them devoted to clothing alone

One woman said she loves primping her pooch.

“He loves to wear clothes. When we go to the drawer to get his clothes, he gets so excited,” said Shiori Ando of Kawasaki, who brought a toy poodle decked out in a striped shirt and black pants.

On Saturday, Ando bought boots and three new outfits for her dog.

“(The boots) can protect his paws when walking on concrete, and we don’t have to clean them after walking,” she said.

A woman from Hiratsuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, said she cares about fashion as well as warmth because her Chihuahua is sensitive to the cold. She said she already has about 50 pieces of clothing for the dog.

Hiroshi Nakajima, who runs Dog Peace, a canine clothing store in Osaka, said in a phone interview that dog-dressing culture is now common.

He said when he started making canine clothing about four years ago, the trend wasn’t firmly in place.

“I was getting e-mail asking, ‘Why do dogs need to wear clothing?’ ” he said.