Ahh the joys of being part of generation rent. We may not be able to buy a house, but we can, and will, make up for it by buying literally everything else; an overpriced gym membership, a tarot reading, a subscription to a mindfulness app; the list goes on.
Now there’s a new millennial must-have. A puppy. Or a kitten, house rabbit or even a python, depending on your taste. Whatever your preference, recent studies have confirmed that millennials now make up the largest demographic of pet owners. Maybe we’re choosing fur babies while we put off having actual babies, or maybe it’s because of the positive impact pets can have on our mental health. Either way, it’s not just about owning an animal. With millennial pet ownership comes all other things millennial; we’re talking about the generation who, despite struggling to get on the property ladder, are investing their money elsewhere, and are predicted to be the largest luxury spenders by 2025. Increasingly, pets are becoming part of that new definition of luxury.
In 2019, animal owners are spending more than ever on their furred (or allergy-free alternative) companions, leading to a rise in businesses offering everything from memory foam dog beds to organic vegan cat food. Now, the proliferation of all things animal is hitting the fashion world in a big way. It emerged after the death of Karl Lagerfeld that his beloved cat, Choupette was one of the beneficiaries named in the Chanel creative director’s will, while Alexander McQueen left £50,000 to his dogs, so that they could be pampered for the rest of their lives.
While animal ownership continues to soar, the intersection between pets and high fashion has become a growing space. Millennials are more than twice as likely to buy their pets clothing than Baby Boomers. For AW19, Ralph Lauren and Burberry both unveiled a range of canine clothes, with the latter launching Dog Days, a limited-edition collection of collars, hoodies and leads. Italian designer Giovanna Temellini worked for over 25 luxury brands including Bottega Veneta and Armani, but in 2017, she launched her own brand, Temellini Milan Dog-a-Porter, a sartorial clothing line dedicated to canine couture.
Like fashion, our tastes in animals themselves have become a way of aligning ourselves with whatever subculture we identify with. While a sneakerhead might queue outside a Supreme store at 6am for the latest limited-edition trainer drop, nothing screams luxury more than owning a dachshund just like the one from Gucci’s Cruise 2020 campaign. When it comes to dogs, a 2017 report found that millennials were moving away from the small handbag breeds in favour of medium-sized dogs, meaning the chihuahua or pomeranians popularised by the likes of Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton are out. Kendall Jenner’s Doberman, Emma Stone’s Golden Retriever or Stormzy’s Rottweiler? Very, very much in.