POOCH PRINTS: “I was afraid of dogs for a long, long time,” admits Josie Natori.
Now that she’s over her fear, the designer sees the business opportunity in catering to canines. She’s collaborating with K9Wear, a New York-based manufacturer of harnesses and outerwear for dogs, weighing from two to 180 pounds, located in the Garment District.
Effective today, Natori has a leopard print dog raincoat, worn over the K9Wear harness, displayed for sale on her website. The outfit, priced $110, represents the first of what Natori and James Straggas, cofounder of K9Wear, believe will become a line of Natori doggie designer puffer jackets, denim jackets and bomber coats, as well as raincoats. It’s Natori’s first foray into pet wear.
“It’s fun but you know it’s a real opportunity,” Natori said. “Dogs are so popular. People love their dogs. My people are always telling me why don’t you put a dog in your photo shoots. The other day in church I saw a woman who brought her two dogs right up to communion.”
According to Straggas, the key thing about the K9Wear harnesses is that they fit dogs comfortably and safely, without restricting their movement. His company was launched at the end of last December, and he already has commitments from other designers, including Badgley Mischka, for the harnesses and pet wear. Prints in the pet wear match the prints in the women’s wear. The pet wear for pooches is genderless.
There’s a clear division of responsibility between designer and manufacturer. “I’m providing my print designs. James and his team handle the technical work and production. I wouldn’t touch it,” said Natori, the Filipino-American designer who is well-known for sleep and lounge wear, intimates, as well as clothing, fine jewelry, accessories and home products.
As far as how she got over her fear of dogs, it’s helped that her son’s family has a dog, a Cavapoochon, which is a triple-cross breed combining the traits of the Cavalier King Charles, Bichon Frise and Toy Poodle. “It’s like their third child,” Natori noted.