Puppies, but make it fashion. Sisters Sabrina Albarello and Katerina Karelas were disappointed on their search for gear for their puppies. “Yes, there were pieces made by dog lovers but it just wasn’t fashionable,” Albarello said of their quest. “There just really wasn’t anything out there that wasn’t cheesy.”
So the industry insiders — Albarello is the girlfriend of designer Heron Preston — decided to launch their own canine fashion brand, and began “Very Important Puppies.” In the short time since it’s September launch, the luxury puppy brand has already had two collaborations: one with Preston and one with GCDC, and now it’s adding yet another: NASA.
The VIP x Heron Preston x NASA collection includes mini puppy versions of a Windbreaker, a black crew neck top, a white hoodie, and, naturally, a collar and leash.
“We try to keep a higher price than a typical dog brand but not super cheap,” Karelas said of the brand’s prices, which range from $148 retail for the leash to $308 for the Windbreaker. “We don’t want to be Petco, but also we are not Vuitton.”
Because of their access within the industry, the sisters said collaborations made sense as a way to build their brand and the line, which is made in New York, and takes care to use details and embellishments found in the many of the products’ human counterparts. For example, the white NASA doggie hoodie found in the new collection has a matching adult-size hoodie at Preston’s label.
The idea, the sisters explained, is to give man’s best friend some stylish options, similar to what their adult owners might buy, and matching your dog, they say, is a key part of their brand’s message.
“To many people, their dogs are like their kids, and so you want to show your style through your dog.” Albarello explained, pointing to a generation who posts selfies with their pups on Instagram.
The brand takes a tongue-in-cheek approach to its communication strategy, too, using dogs — often the sisters’ own — in its images and messaging. “My Yorkie, Juicy, became famous at the age of 12,” Karelas joked.
For the NASA collection, the brand enlisted The Clermont Twins, social media influencers themselves, to take “twinning” to the next level by posing in intergalactic settings with a pair of Yorkshire terriers. “It creates a more interesting story,” Albarello said of images from the campaign.
Now that the sisters have gotten into the category, they see plenty of ways to take a bigger bite, with possible brand extensions into doggie shampoos and treats, and even some CBD gummies.
“It would be so cute to make treats that calm your dogs,” Karelas said of the possible next phase. “Maybe for when you are traveling.”
The VIP x Heron Preston x NASA launch begins with e-commerce on the brand’s newly updated web site, followed by a roll out at Kith and Saks Fifth Avenue — two retailers that already carry the brand — and will also be available at Patron of the New and Zita Fabiani on July 2, as well as 15 other new stock lists worldwide.