Ingenuity & Resourcefulness Abound at the FIT Dog Fashion Show
Vegan fashion, eco fashion, pop culture meets couture…it was all represented beautifully at the sixth annual FIT Dog Fashion Show. Celebrating socially responsible and sustainable canine apparel and accessories, the event – entitled BARK Smart – showcased the work of student and alumni designers from the FIT Center for Professional Studies’ Pet Product Design and Marketing certificate program. That’s a mouthful, yes! However, it’s the only program of its kind in the world, and it’s at the renowned Fashion Institute of Technology. So, the bar is set high, and I was anticipating discovering developing design stars. I wasn’t disappointed. Ingenuity and resourcefulness were in full display, and those developing design stars…well, take a look.
New York Fashion Week Meets Project Runway
For many of these fledgling designers, official recognition from this show is akin to placing at the Olympics because of the cache FIT wields. The program facilitator is Kris Lynch, who helped tutor me when I started my Couture by Sophie design brand. As a working member of the pet industry for years, she knows her stuff. The show was judged by pet fashion designer extraordinaire Ada Nieves, who was the first to graduate from the FIT Pet Product Design and Marketing program; celebrity stylist, tv personality and AIM Model Management owner/director, Nole Marin and Gala Darling, a jewelry designer and the founder of Blogcademy.
The three designers who were honored with a bronze, silver or gold placement, best exemplified socially responsible and sustainable fashion. “We selected products that embody the theme of being a smart owner and consumer when it comes to one’s pet and investing in products – food, care, toys, accessories, habitat, and apparel that stress health, nutrition, protection, safety, and comfort and positively affect the environment,” said Joan Volpe, managing coordinator of the FIT Center for Professional Studies. “These translate into organic fabrications and ingredients, breathable synthetics, and cut and fit that take animal anatomy into consideration and result in items that are comfortable and natural for an animal to wear.”
The Gold Standard
South Korean designer, ShinJeo Park, took the top honor. For me, she is definitely someone to watch. I loved her designs, especially a Marilyn Monroe nod to pop culture, shown below, called Mainly Monroe. This jacket, made from cream-colored heavier weight canvas, was emblazoned with a photo-printed fabric of Marilyn Monroe, framed in black felt-like fabric with a lacey pattern. It was definitely a statement piece, and the fit was superb. ShinJeo’s inspiration is how much we Americans love our dogs, and how they relate to one another. She finds the way dogs interact with one another intriguing, especially male and female dogs, and wanted to make a statement about that interaction being sexy. Marilyn Monroe was the perfect fit.
ShinJeo already had a successful career in luxury marketing and graphic design in South Korea. She moved to New York at 40 to pursue her passion for fashion accessory design. She’s currently working as a hat designer and is also making pet clothing. Her designs are informed by the modern lines of city life juxtaposed with abstract and softened lines derived from nature. With ShinJeo’s eye for shape, graphics and overall design, if she sets her sights on dog apparel full time…watch out! [email protected]
Nicole Wilson is a really interesting designer. She’s still an FIT student, so her design company isn’t fully launched yet. But I love how she’s explored the use of vegan and eco-friendly materials, creating practical designs with flair. She called her collection Retro Rebirth, drawing inspiration from vintage menswear and incorporating lots of texture, with a neutral color palette. Her Phoenix bomber jacket, modeled by Nicole’s Alaskan Klee Kai, Dakota, was adorable, mixing white, organic cotton twill with self-quilted cotton chambray sleeves. The faux pockets were made from black cork leather, actual bonded cork fused to fabric. She also used ultrasuede, made from 100% plastic, in her pieces. Dakota wore a canvas and cork leather collar and matching leash with this outfit on the runway.
Nicole hails from Toronto. She pursued her dream of attending FIT, graduating with a BFA in Intimate Apparel. In the summer of 2012, Wilson adopted Dakota and began designing for him, so she enrolled in the FIT pet design program. Her goal is to create fashions that are sophisticated and well-suited to the city dog. I think she’s well on her way! [email protected]
Karine Ng, of Central Park Pups, is a problem-solver for pet parents and she does it with style. Her jackets have a harness built right in, so getting your pup ready for a walk is a one-two-skidoo. She uses interesting materials like her safety features – reflective trims for easy to spot Spot, and nano technology, which makes her fleece garments liquid resistant and anti-microbial. Pretty cool. Her motto is “Where safety is built into the style,” and it is.
It was her love of her Shih Tzu, Chewie, that inspired her to create dog clothes. With an already successful career in retail, real estate and marketing, Karine had the tools to take her passion to the next level. The classic architecture and contemporary fashion of New York City serves as her inspiration. www.centralparkpups.com. Here’s a pic of her preppy camel toggle coat, with harness attached.