After working in the human fashion industry, designer Rosemary Hopper is now using her fashion expertise to create custom dog fashion. A master tailor and former professor of fashion design, she is the designer and product manager for Mister Migs. She talked to us about dog fashion trends, making the switch from human to dog fashion and about the non-profit mission of Mister Migs.
Custom Dog Fashion with Mister Migs
Mister Migs, LLC is a non-profit design studio which focuses on creating sustainable dog gear while also providing training for young adults with learning disabilities to find their career path and work towards their goals and dreams. We assist them in overcoming barriers towards employment by giving positive reinforcement and teaching professional practices. Thanks to our collaboration with Wow In-Sync, Inc., (www.wowinsync.org) a 501 (c) (3) organization, Mister Migs has had the opportunity to expand its generosity by providing real-life work and community experience to marginalized youth.
Sustainability and Design
Most of our materials are donated or repurposed to reduce waste and help the environment. Our focus is on denim, which we use as the core product for most of our designs. As the designer for Mister Migs, I research current fashion and color trends. I also keep up with pet reports and what is trending in pet apparel and accessories. Current reports say that 70 percent of our population has a pet. Also, according to reports from WGSN (a leading trend forecasting service), most Millennials are delaying marriage and are choosing to own a pet instead of having children right away.
All the collections I design for Mister Migs begin with an inspiration and theme. From visual research, I will extract a color story that I like, which is a palette of colors that make a cohesive stement. I will also extract design details. Because denim is our core, if my color story does not include blue denim, I will dye or bleach. This is a great, even fun, job!
Q: When designing clothes do you follow human trends? Or does dog fashion operate differently?
A: I do follow the human fashion trends. I consistently design around themes that reoccur on the high fashion runways in New York, Paris, and Milan. These themes include Western, Bohemian, Equestrian, Androgyny, and Grunge to name a few. Really, I think “dog apparel design” follows human fashion trends: cars, interiors, pet apparel. Dogs themselves have no sense of “fashion”. They are always willing to follow the lead of their “pack”. In this case, it’s the human “pack”.
Q: How do you work out a ‘good fit’ for a pup? Are there different fits that apply to different breeds?
A: In dealing with people, we can apply the same body-type to different sizes. However, the same principle does not apply to dogs. In dogs, the design itself may need to change as the size changes. For me as a designer, the different breeds pose a different challenge, because the dogs’ body types are so different. In other words, the ‘good fit’ for a pup depends on the size, the breed, and the body type of the pup.
Q: Do celebrities influence dog fashion at all?
A: Celebrities may influence dog fashion, in that they may expect to see their own sense of fashion reflected in their dogs. As I said previously, dogs follow their human “pack”. So when people buy fashions for their own dogs, they are really following their chosen celebrities’ sense of fashion. As with many other products, celebrity endorsements boost sales.
Q: Why is there not more clothing for non-small dogs?
A: While all dogs are companions, we like to honor the breed of dogs and what they are intended to do. Large working dogs work, hunting dogs hunt, sheep dogs herd, and the list goes on. In dog fashion, many of these breeds need “a job” and so many of our designs are functional in some way along with being fashionable.
The small dogs are companions too, but because of their smaller size and often time being of a “toy” breed then…..fashion is part of the fun.
Q: Also why is there so little fashionable clothing for male dogs?
A: It’s entirely a matter of our expectations. In the world of human fashion, we expect womenswear to be much more “fashionable” (and therefore show a wider variety) than menswear. After all, humans are the actual origin of “dog” fashion.
Q: What you do suggest for owners with breeds that are harder to fit, like Corgis and Dachshunds?
A: An old cliché says that “dogs reflect their owners”. Actually, owners choose—however unconsciously—dogs that reflect their own personalities. So, I would ask a question of the owners themselves, “How do you see yourself?” It’s the same question we ask of people when we’re designing for them. It’s just like people. When people are hard to fit, they need garments that are custom-made. At Mister Migs, we specialize in custom-made, depending on what the owners request.
Q: Do you have any tips on getting dogs more used to wearing fashion? For the dogs that won’t move once you put clothes on them?
A: Oh, this is an easy question. By nature, dogs perceive themselves to be members of a pack. Therefore, they are happiest when they receive the approval and encouragement of the pack. They will go to great lengths to receive approval of their owners. Therefore, just as they train their dogs to “sit” and “stay” and “come” etc., owners can train their dogs to wear clothes, just like we train little humans to wear clothes. My sister’s dog will now only go out in the rain when she’s wearing her Mister Migs Migrubbie.
Q: What is currently trending in pet apparel and accessories?
A: We can only mimic human trends in fashion, since humans are the ones who ultimately decide on pet apparel. Pet owners, for example, want dog beds that match their own home decor. People buy dog collars that match their own jewelry. People who like denim want to dress their dogs in denim. And the list goes on . . . . When Paul McCartney decided to go vegetarian, he sought out vegetarian dog food.
Q: What is your design background? How did you get started designing for pets? How is it different than designing for humans?
A: I have designed and taught designing for many years, and it’s normally been design for humans. At one time, I specialized in custom menswear. I have also designed and fitted custom bridal wear. Most people have been quite satisfied with my work, and have expressed great appreciation for it.
However, dogs are always my most satisfied customers: they always go away happily wagging their tails. That puts a smile on my face.
Q: Based on Mr. N’s coloring and build, what sort of clothes and colors would you suggest for him? What out of your collection?
A: I see Mr. N as truly “all boy” and a real sportster. Many colors would complement his coat color, but I would stick to traditional “male” colors, especially blue and brown. I can see him in our “City Slicker Pace” with a cool hoodie, “Rag Muffin Wilbur” (a brand new design), and “Migrubbie Louey Jacket” ( a new design and our interpretation of the denim jacket for dogs). I can also see him in our “Migrubbie Hatch”. This design is for a dog that is bigger than Mr. N but I could size it for him. It would probably be a new design. Ummmm…. The new “Mr. N” ….stay tuned.
Mister Migs is generously giving away a tie dye leash and bow tie collar set. Your dog will be the most stylish at the park!