Living in New York is a perfect excuse to “dress to impress,” even if you’re a dog.
Dog owners and dog lovers in the city also want to see their pooches walk and bark with style on the streets of the world´s fashion capital. And designer Rebecca Fadden, 31, the creator of the brand Finn +Me, is determined to make that happen.
A graduate of the Parson School of Design, Fadden launched, in August 2017, a line of affordable luxury accessories for dogs.
The bread and butter of her business are made of leather: collars, leashes and even fancy poop bag holders, all manufactured in Fort Green and Bushwick, in Brooklyn, even though they are sold in other cities, including Los Angeles, Chicago, and Boston.
What outfit suits your doggie the best? Well, it can depend on the neighborhood where you live. Every collection of Fadden’s is based on a different New York location.
Her inspiration: her best friend, her pooch, the Labradoodle Finley, Finn for short. She knows instinctively that others feel about their dogs the way she feels about Finn—and are willing to fork over money to buy stuff for them to make them look sidewalk chic.
“I love that dog so much I could not imagine my life without him. He is my baby. I think people want to spoil their pets. A lot of people in their 20s and 30s are delaying having children, they get dogs and your dog is part of your family,” says Fadden. “I think it´s a growing market and I´m excited to be a part of it.”
In 2018, Americans set a new record, spending more on pets than ever before, according to the American Pet Products Association, a non-profit organization serving the interests of pet manufacturers and importers. Last year, pet care spending reached $72.56 billion compared to $69.51 billion in 2017, according to the association. From that total, $16 billion was spent on dog beds, collars, leashes, clothing and other accessories.
Phillip Cooper, president at Pet Industry Expert, a firm that assesses entrepreneurs in the U.S animal industry, estimates that the pet business overall is increasing at an even higher rate, he puts it at a 20 percent clip a year.
“Dogs have been elevated to baby status and people have more spendable income. So, for a dog there is an unconditional love and people will spend whatever they have to spend to make them live longer,” he says.
According to Cooper’s analysis, buying premium food or safety devices for pets—not dressing them— has become the biggest trend in the animal industry, however.
Perhaps he’s right, but dog lovers also insist their pets look good. “Obviously, people are out jogging and walking and they want their pets to be fashionably dressed and they want them to be warm and secure. And so, they’ll buy a matching collar with a matching leash. They’ll buy sweaters and coats and T-shirts and all kinds of fun things,” adds Cooper.
Fadden knows she is working in a competitive business. “But I am not worried about that,” she says. For starters, she says, her products, though upscale in appeal, are moderately priced and she plans to diversify her offerings beyond accessories.
“A lot of the luxury brands are super expensive. There are others mass produced in China that are very cheap. But there wasn´t really much right in the middle so I try to position myself as affordable luxury for dogs,” says Fadden.
A leash from Finn +Me costs $70 and a collar around $45.
Leashes and collars are her most popular products, but Fadden´s clothing line for dogs is not far behind.
“The matching shirts are really popular,” she adds.
Yes, you read that right. It seems many New Yorkers love to match their outfits with their dog´s. Like this:
New Yorkers love another thing about Fadden´s collections: they are inspired by the city’s neighborhoods.
Walking a dog in SoHo is different than running with one in Central Park or letting a furry pal wag its tail on the Brooklyn Bridge. Each location has its own look, she explains.
“The Brooklyn collection is orange and blue, because I was thinking of, like, the sunset. The SoHo collection is pink for its cast iron and buildings. Central Park collection is like a mint color cause of the grass,” says Fadden, who has also created a metallic collection for those dog lovers who want to match their pooches with the city’s shimmering skyline.
“I live near Central Park so I have the Central Park leash and collar and I’ve never seen anyone do that before. So that that turned me on to the brand at the beginning,” says Astrid Hill, a 34-year-old artist advisor. She buys, on average, one product every two months for her 4-year-old Labradoodle Modigliani, Modi, for short.
“She has these collars that say cute things like “Cookie Monster,” “Cute AF,” or “So Fetch.” So, they’re fun conversation starters, to be, like in the dog park and someone’s is like ‘What does your collar say? Where did you get that?’” adds Hill.
Usually the collections include a collar, leash, scarf and a pooch poop purse: a fashionable dog poop bag holder that can also store keys, money and other walking accessories.
“We make a mood board and come up with color that make sense for the next season,” explains Fadden. The next step is to get the leather from a distributor in Italy. Both clothing and leather products are manufactured in two different factories located in Brooklyn.
Fadden began selling her products directly to consumers instead of through a brick and mortar store. But in June 2018, she also started distributing her products to retailers in bulk, a strategy known as wholesale.
In the coming weeks, Fadden will add raincoats for dogs to her clothing line. As usual, Finn the dog will be flaunting the new product in his popular Instagram account.