Melissa Westwood & Matt Johnstone of PetHaus®

Denim, Dogs, Vintage, & Vinyl. Meet The Australian Designer Couple.

By Danielle Goreski

Melissa Westwood & Matt Johnstone of PETHAUS

To find two of the coolest cats out there–and lovers of all things music, pets, and vintage denim–Get Leashed took a trip down under to visit the headquarters of PetHaus® – creators and makers of denim battle jackets that give your dog the ultimate in street cred.

Melissa is a self-admitted vintage hoarder, lover of cheese and owner of way too many tan boots. Matt is a musician, lover of all things metal and rock ’n’ roll, and owner of way too many jean jackets. Located in Melbourne, Australia, this dog-obsessed dynamic duo is deliciously ‘bad to the bone.’

When Willie Dog came into Mel and Matt’s lives, they were at odds about dressing him up in ‘clothes.’ They struggled to find something cool that suited their personalities, so Matt decided to create a custom jean jacket for Willie (which was pretty much a copy of the one he wore himself) and from there, PetHaus® was born. The rest, as they say, is history.

With Mel’s 25 years experience as a purveyor of streetwear and high-end denim and Matt’s passion for music, the two collaborated to create PetHaus® – custom-patched battle jackets, hoodies, bandanas and spirit animal jackets. Just when you thought your dog couldn’t possibly have any more swagger, this brand just upped the game.

From what seemed like a part-time hobby, PetHaus® has quickly become a full-time passion. Due to the increased demand and popularity of the brand, Melissa is planning for extreme pet denim domination in the very near future.

Move over Levi’s®, there’s a new dog in town.

melissa and matt of pethau Australia dog jackets

Tell us a bit about yourselves. Your background?

Partners in crime and life, Matt and I met about four years ago. Matt is a musician currently playing in two bands: as lead singer/guitarist for Levitating Churches, a noisy psychedelic rock band and as singer for The number 19’s, a surf party band. We bonded over music, a mutual love of our homeland, New Zealand, and vintage fashion. I work in fashion with over 15 years experience in vintage fashion. We both own a ridiculous collection of denim jackets and jeans, especially from the 70’s.

Matt has worked for bill poster companies for years and his controversial poster designs can be found all over Melbourne and Auckland under the tag #nosquaresorhippies. We put his talents to good use on our custom-patch designs.

Tell us a bit about your pets.

The Felines (both are Abyssinians) – Diego: Captain of cuddles and all round good guy. Cowboy: Dude with all the attitude; best ever death stare.

The Pooch (English Toy Terrier)- Willie: One tiny little dog with a whole lot of attitude! He pretty much runs the show.

Willie the English Toy Terrier has taken over our lives in the best way possible. Who would have thought that such a tiny dog could have such a huge personality and so much attitude?! He wins hearts wherever he goes. He’s six kilos of pure entertainment; he has the balls of a Doberman when he’s at the park, but at home with the cats (we have two gorgeous Abyssinians)…well, they’re the boss.

Willie spends every day with us at work and play. His favorite two words are ‘Bone’ and ‘Party’ and he’s a hell of a ladies’ man. His superhero name is ‘The Black Bullet’ and his superpower is lightening speed and endurance at the park, running literal circles around other dogs tirelessly.

Can you tell us a bit about toilet training your kitties. I’m bloody impressed.

Let’s face it, kitty litter stinks and it migrates around the house like a wet Mogwai. We taught both the boys to pee in the toilet using a “Litter Kwitter“.  Basically it’s the best invention the world has ever known. When Cowboy was a kitten he once pooped a poop so big (we had to watch), it was the length of his little body. It was acting as a counter weight and when it finally broke loose he lost his balance and fell forward off the toilet. I think we cry-laughed for a whole day. It was the funniest thing ever and he looked so surprised! (Warning: do not teach the cat to flush, or they flush all day for fun).

Cowboy, our youngest Abyssinian lives up to his name. He has a ‘don’t fuck with me’ resting face and an attitude to boot. As a kitten he went missing. When we found him rescued by our neighbors, they had become attached and named him…Texas! He’s a true Houdini, escaping any chance he gets. As such our yard now looks like Fort Knox.

Diego, our oldest Abyssinian is a lover. He has a purr that would wake the dead, loves to suck your thumb and ride the shoulders of the tallest human in the room. They are both ridiculously handsome.

pethaus denim battle jacket for dogs

How did you come up with the idea to start making battle jackets for dogs?

Over too many drinks at lunch! Before our little mate, Willie, arrived, we spent a few months getting really excited about our first dog together. We knew he was going to be a shaky little terrier, so the topic of dog coats to keep him warm came up. Matt was pretty adamant that no dog of his was going to be dressed in anything like what we had seen in the pet shops. We joked about making him an outfit to match Matt’s battle jacket and the rest is history.

What was your inspiration?

All our favorite things! Denim, music, vintage fashion and a good time!  Basically our own wardrobes. Willie is like a mini Matt.

Do you get a lot of custom requests?

Yes! Custom jobs are where it all started and we still have so much fun working on them. We can now brag that there are dogs on every continent rocking our custom jackets. Our plain raw denim jackets are hugely popular too; lots of our customers have big patch collections and want to patch up their own dog’s jacket.

For those who just love the look and attitude, we have our own dog-centric, band patch jackets with patches like ‘Bark Sabbath,’ and Metallica, or our new outlaw biker style ‘Pack Member’ patched up jackets.

What was the craziest request and what was the hardest request to fill?

We’ve had some pretty nutty ones, from a ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ theme to one of our favorites, a Degrassi High Zit Remedy jacket made with puffer paint pens. That one was crazy fun to make and went to one of our very special pack members, Pikelet from @lifeofpikelet (Pikelet was once a puppy on death row at the pound, now rescued and living it up in Sydney Australia. Foster bro extraordinaire, proud advocate of #adoptdontshop)

What has been your favorite jacket?

Well certainly our most epic custom job was for Sherlock; his dad is Peter Beste, a documentary photographer, well-known for his book True Norwegian Black Metal. Peter is currently working on a new photography book documenting Battle Jackets from all around the globe. He contacted us to create a jacket for Sherlock worthy of being photographed for the book.

pethaus custom order dog battle jacket patched

How long does it take to make each jacket?

It depends on the customization. Our standard custom jackets come with your dog’s selection of up to four patches and studs if requested. These take from 1-3 weeks to produce, but most of that is getting the actual patches. Some rarer patches can be hard to track down. We are always open to creating more insane, heavily-embellished jackets though — all you need to do is ask and we can quote them up.

How do you source your patches?

Google! Plus, we have a few local Melbourne stores which we frequent. We highly recommend Instagram for finding wicked patches. Check out @patchgame and @patchthread — those guys curate some of the best patch designs out there.

Have you had any celebrity requests for one?

It made our year when out of the blue. Fast Eddie Clarke, legendary guitarist from Motörhead, bought a jacket for his dog, Cookie the Motorpooch.

What jacket do you want to make, but haven’t got around to yet?

So many ideas!! Currently Matt is working on a hand-painted Dead Moon Jacket for Willie – that dog is so spoiled.

What are your favorite bands?

There are two walls (and growing) of records in our house, it’s very hard to pick just a few. Matt is a huge fan of Roky Erickson, Darkthrone and of course we both love Motörhead and Black Sabbath. I listen to everything from alternative country to stoner rock. It’s safe to say we both love loud guitars!

What is your next project?

Everything denim! We want to be the Levi’s of dog denim.

Anything else you can tell our readers?

We are expanding our range of complementary products, including our Lumberjack & Woodsman bandanas, our awesome Dog Tag Bottle Openers and the very popular ‘Bones Dog Hoodies’ — with more great dog gear to come!

pethaus of australia dog denim jacket rock and roll

Check out PetHaus designs on their official website or Etsy Store.

Stay up to date by following their stellar social media accounts:

INSTAGRAM: @HelloPetHaus TWITTER: @HelloPetHaus

FACEBOOK: /HelloPetHaus YOUTUBE: PetHaus