What The Fluff Happened at the Tod’s Show?

Models Carrying Dogs: Offensive Publicity Stunt or a Charming Nod to the Year of the Dog?

By Jennifer Grant

Credit: Tod’s


Tod’s is an Italian fashion house known the world over for its exquisitely luxurious footwear and handbags. Over the years, under the leadership of Diego Della Valle, Tod’s has expanded to include decadent ready-to-wear clothing lines for both men and women.

Credit: Tod’s

The fashion powerhouse revealed its fall/winter collection for 2018/19 during the Milan Fashion Week this past February. All was perfectly executed right from the opening walk: Gigi Hadid’s angelic smile was wrapped in a gorgeous geometry-inspired, sheepskin coat that was just good enough to eat with its cinnamon, cardamom, and turmeric palate.  And THEN there was that adorable French Bulldog resting, blissfully, across her arm. Totally adorbs nod to the Year of the Dog! I can’t even.


Credit: Tod’s


Indeed, Tod’s made a shameful display of animal cruelty sending its models down the runway carrying live dogs while wearing dead animals. It was a disgusting abuse for the little puppies and deeply perplexing to the audience. Why is a leather house having its models carry live animals? Doesn’t that make you squirm in your chair just a tiny bit? Ugh. Dogs are NOT accessories.

Credit: Tod’s

How can half of the media celebrate the “preciousness” of puppy guest stars, while the other half harpoons the brand for “using them as accessories”? And more importantly, who is right?

Confused? Offended? Scrolling on? If I’ve captured your attention in my first two questions, there is no way the latter isn’t happening — you’re definitely scrolling ahead. And that’s the whole point of this new era of semi-fabricated offense. It’s all about keeping us talking, tweeting and sharing.


Credit: Tod’s

I’m going to level with you – all subsequent media reports indicate that the dogs are fine. Most (read: all) even seemed to enjoy their moment in the spotlight, nestled into the coziness of soft jackets. While there is some ambiguity about the source of the dogs (and I wholeheartedly agree that this information needs to be confirmed) the public has been reassured that they are all healthy and come from reputable breeders.

It was a carefully constructed media hook. Everyone is talking and all tongues are wagging. As predicted.

Credit: Tod’s

Designers are pushed to become more and more outrageous to break through the cultivated “sameness” of the modern fashion show. It is an ever increasing challenge to keep the attention of a room full of people who have been there, done that and seen it all, quit literally. So, being that 2018 is the Year of the Dog, and that Tod’s has gained considerable market share in Asia, the brand may have felt that a nod to the new lunar year was a natural fit for both diversifying and differentiating their runway presentation. And differentiate it, it did!

Credit: Tod’s

What followed the show was tweet after tweet of backlash persecuting Tod’s for implying that these doggies could be made into handbags. Stop.Right.There.

Credit: Tod’s

The Royale kitten is the softness associated with my toilet paper. So is Royale implying that I should wipe my bottom with kittens? Because the same logical fallacy that turns live puppies into handbags advises me to use kittens for bathroom duty. One can certainly disagree with wearing leather and opt to make vegan choices in their personal apparel purchases. I, in fact, personally 100% approve of that decision! But to jump to an outlandish narrative to support a well intended position serves to diminish and undermine the very reasoning of both.

Credit: Tod’s

The level to which we can rally our collective offense is pretty impressive. We’ve become this species of humorless, overly-sensitive, social media monsters. And it’s very lucrative to be offended if you can pull it off with just the right measure of snark, which is bound to secure an endless stream of likes, shares and retweets.

Credit: Tod’s

I say, pick your battles. Taking up media space for a cause is not the same thing as posturing your outrage. With very few exceptions (cruelty, bigotry, and Crocs), being offended is a choice.

Credit: Tod’s

So, let’s look hard at the impetus for this stunt: What is a good way to honor our canine friends in the Chinese Year of the Dog?

Throw your ideas in the comment section.