Models With Body Hair, Whiskers and Jowls Wanted

Sniffie Ready-to-Wear Debuts at the Upper House Hong Kong

By Si Si Penaloza

Photo: Sniffie

Move over New York Fashion Week, there’s a new catwalk in town. Or, rather, a runway of a more canine persuasion. Sniffie has taken over runways from London to Hong Kong. Mind you, Sniffie isn’t just any pet startup. It’s the brainchild of founder Caroline Roberts, whose design industry credentials include stints at none other than Victoria Beckham, Dolce & Gabbana and Loewe. In fact, Sniffie was given the honor of soft launching at London Fashion Week this past fall.

Photo: Sniffie

The new online dog outfitter debuted its Autumn/Winter 2017 collection to much fanfare, and may just break the mold of infantilizing dog tutus for good. In the era of Menswear Dog on Instagram — aka the Shiba Inu sensation with a more stylish wardrobe than most Fortune 500 executives — we should be way beyond the early, clumsy, “let’s play dress up” efforts in the pet space.

Photo: Sniffie

Sniffie is a contemporary luxury brand for dogs that already has LFW and a haute Hong Kong debut on its calling card. Think diamante encrusted coats to rival Balmain. Silky bombers reminiscent of Gucci. Now we’re in new territory. Given the scope and sophistication of the inaugural Sniffie  collection, it’s safe to say Roberts has been underwhelmed by her competition.

Photo: Sniffie

Much of the petwear market is full of fast fashion mistakes – poor quality, childish and made to last a season and end up in a landfill, by the side of the road, or worse, ingested by your pet due to poor stitching. Let’s face it, people don’t do hand me downs with pet clothes. Or do they? Sidebar: If you have ever hosted a pet shower or pet fashion swap for your friends, reach out to me, I’d be interested in writing about it.

Photo: Sniffie

When introducing Sniffie to Hong Kong, aka the market, the Sniffie team cleverly and coyly sniffed out one of the city’s most esteemed “green spaces”. The Upper House Hong Kong remains one of my favorite urban hotels in the Pacific Rim for good reason. I spent a glorious weekend there the year it opened back in toured the signature outdoor space, dubbed The Lawn, back in 2009 and was floored by the ingenuity of the concept and endless event execution possibilities.

Photo: Sniffie

A secluded green space located on Level 6, The Lawn is a refreshing surprise set amid Hong Kong’s infamous concrete jungle. A grassy respite from the teeming metropolis, the setting served as the perfect venue for a sassy showdown of supermodel dogs.

Photo: Sniffie

Like a surreal scene out of Kevin Kwan’s hit novel Crazy Rich Asians, lithe whippets loped up The Lawn’s signature wide, white staircase, led by perfectly coiffed matching humans. Yet make no mistake, this show is all about the dog style. The human look is merely inspiration for the dog wear. The mantra of Sniffie is “Dogs always come first”.

Photo: Sniffie

Roberts’ point of difference is that her line is not a secondary dog clothing collection from a big design factory. She is counting on consumers to shop for more “cult pieces” for their pets.  Unlike the cutthroat world of elite, size zero human models, we enjoyed the diverse array of body types at this presentation. Zaftig French bulldogs strutted The Lawn with aplomb, showcasing how well they fill out a Sniffie vest. Imagine Channing Tatum in Magic Mike and you’re halfway there.

Photo: Sniffie

As the unique display got underway, socialites savored champagne and catered bites, while pugs sipped on ‘pawsecco’. The collection the dogs modeled was a savvy adaptation of the best human styles of the season — houndstooth capes, neon green overalls and bomber jackets were among the standouts.

Photo: Sniffie

Each dog model was escorted on leash by a person in an accompanying outfit to show the human inspiration for each look. Sniffie sources high end fabrics and whimsical prints; they aim to reflect expert craftsmanship, treating dog clothing with the same reverence designers have for human ready-to-wear. Color us charmed and curious. Rest assured, we’ll keep you posted on future Sniffie updates and highlights.

Photo: Sniffie