Yorkville: One of Toronto’s most prominent neighbourhoods, and a concrete runway for the well-manicured, well-coiffed, and well-dressed. And those are just the pets.
Long gone are the days when a couple designer pieces and a subscription to Vogue meant you could consider yourself fashionable; nowadays, a true fashionista surrounds him- or herself with an equally fashionable entourage, whether it be their friends, their children, or more commonly these days, their pets.
Four years ago, Samantha Armstrong, founder of HOUND Collection, recognized a thriving trend among the fashion-forward young professionals who wanted to walk their dogs in style, so she decided to take it into her own hands to create a line of handmade, on-trend accessories for dogs.
“HOUND was an idea I came up with when I brought home my first dog, Henry, 4 years ago. I scoured online and every luxury pet boutique for something for Henry to wear, [but] everything "luxury" really just meant kitschy. Rhinestones and hot pink weren't my thing.”
Working at a high-end shoe store in Yorkville no doubt influenced Armstrong’s personal taste and affinity for a trendy, well-made product. Although starting a business is a daunting task (and even more so for a 23 year old), it seemed like the obvious next step for this dog-loving fashionista who was inspired by her desire to find accessories that reflected her personal style… for her dog. Armstrong decided that she couldn’t be the only fashion lover wanting her dog to be as well-dressed as she was, and after sourcing her materials, relentlessly promoting on Instagram, and putting in long hours between classes, she had a product and a name: HOUND.
“Our target market is the young, trendy girl with a need for staying on trend. Whether it's disposable income, or a maxed out Visa - HOUND is [a] must have in [her] wardrobe. We target the basic Aritzia customer: women aged 18-28. We'd love our customers to have to make a conscious decision between a HOUND set or a new pair of shoes come payday.”
In only 7 months, the brand has gained a substantial following, with close to 7,000 followers on Instagram, and with some of her main markets being New York, California, Melbourne, and the UK. HOUND sets can even be seen adorning the necks of pets belonging to Marilyn Denis, and a variety of fashion bloggers such as Danielle Bernstein of WeWoreWhat, Jenny Bernheim of Margo and Me, and Vancouver-based blogger, Lily Nguyen, of Bleed for Fashion. Armstrong even requests that her customers take Look of the Day shots of their outfits paired with their dog’s HOUND set to promote the brand’s focus on being fashion-forward.
A collection of luxury dog collars may elicit an eye-roll or two from some who believe “it’s just a dog”, but in a time where “Mommy’s little princess” onesies are no longer exclusive to babies, and “s’paw” days are no longer exclusive to overworked mothers, a trendy HOUND set almost seems like a wardrobe staple for your best friend.