that started holding dog runway events at trade shows
it organizes in New York two years ago, targeted
puppy-mad Tokyo for its first overseas foray.
"In the U.S. dogs are dressed to a degree,
but not as meticulously or as coordinated as you
see" in Japan, says Mario DiFante, a partner and
executive director of Pet Fashion Week.
Pet fashion has been hot ever since Paris Hilton
was snapped toting her uber-chic Chihuahua Tinkerbell
to society soirees (Ms. Hilton has since launched her
own line of pet clothing and accessories).
Tokyo-based Yano Research Institute estimates
that owners in Japan spent $10 billion in 2006,
the latest figures available, on everything from food
to clothes to the purchase price of the pets.
Designer Manfred of Sweden displayed a Swarovski
crystal-bedecked gold-and-silver colored leather
jacket retailing at $5,000 at the trade show. Manfred
also makes a $20,000 diamond-encrusted leather
doggie jacket. At the lower end, there are "hoodie"
sweatshirts, made of stretchable sport material
emblazoned with a snapshot of the Beatles,
which sell for about $300 each.
Some of the humans came hoping to leave with
new ideas to spur their puppy-fashion sales.
"The challenge that the market has right now
is that it's difficult to find really innovative fashion,"
laments Poochonline.com chief executive Marjorie
Scholz. "That's one reason we came to Japan, not only
to show what we're innovating but also to see what
they're innovating here. The Japanese take everything
they do very seriously, and they do it to extremes."