It was fun to see how cats and especially dogs were being played up for the Holiday season in London. This was not at all because of a new trend in ornaments. Rather, it was because the concept of remembering your pet at Christmastime could not be ignored at retail.
Hip home décor store Heals, for example, offered a display table filled with pet Christmas gifts, including T-shirts for dogs, treat canisters, cat and dog stickers, feeding dishes and the like. Each item was well colored and most had some sort of clever packaging to make them memorable.
Yet even more noteworthy than these fine pieces and how they were presented was the fact that the store placed the same stuffed dog offered for sale in this display in several vignettes. The little White dog sat just as your own faithful pet might—on an ottoman or on the floor by the sofa—so this life-sized dog toy made each vignette in which it appeared feel warmer and more welcoming. The addition of this cute stuffed animal to the furniture selling floor was not only whimsical but also a clever way to give displays a homier feeling.
While Paper Passions tucked an adorable Black with White cat statue among the gifts in their display, Harrods offered everything from aprons to note pads imprinted with the Harrod’s name and a picture of a Westie. The color story: White on Black.
At the Holy Trinity School playground just off Sloan Street, a Saturday Christmas market presented by V V Rouleaux was one of my best finds in the city. A company called Holly & Lil showed their line of “collar couture” for dogs and cats. A bit pricey, these hand made, one-of-a-kind, charm-studded collars (a combination of new and vintage elements) run about 75 pounds, or close to $140.00, but are worth every penny (pence?) of it.
Sitting among the collars to wear everyday were several others decorated with traditional Christmas icons like Santa or trees. The most popular Holiday look this season has been a penguin theme that was already sold out by the time I arrived (note: March of the Penguins is playing all over London right now). I think this would be a great line for high end U.S. pet boutiques to carry during the Holidays. If anyone is interested, you can contact Sarah Wyndham Lewis at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Harvey Nichols took another approach in windows that featured a robot theme all along the street. One window was devoted entirely to pet products—a carrier, a house for your cat, a toy—all things that could be tucked under the tree for Christmas morning.
Just as in the U.S., the role of dogs and cats in London seems to have been elevated from devoted pet to beloved member of the family. Now worthy of our doting attention, pets are providing retailers and consumers with new avenues to express the Holiday spirit of giving.