The model reclines on a camouflage pillow, a bandana tied casually around his neck above a red T-shirt with a white logo. So far, so Tokyo street-chic. Except for one thing: the model is not a human being, it’s a dog.
Welcome to Japan’s untameable pet boom. Pampered pooches are currently all the rage in Japan and the nation’s unbridled passion for pets is currently tapping into all sectors of society.
Testimony to this is Nigo, the man behind the cult street fashion empire A Bathing Ape (BAPE). This week, the designer launched his first pet accessories range enabling his fashion-conscious customers’ dogs to dress as stylishly as their owners.
“We’re releasing 11 items including a dog bed, dog hoodie, leads, collars and carry bags,” says Aiko Hayashi, a spokeswoman for BAPE. “We’ve been interested in the pet industry for a while.”
Japan’s pet industry is worth in excess of a trillion yen. Today, the nation’s dogs can enjoy a leisurely life of yoga, aromatherapy massages and tap-dancing classes (yes really), in between stays in boutique dog hotels and attending dog fashion shows.
Cats don’t have it any harder: from cat acupuncture to cat cafés (including separate menus – organic of course – for both cats and owners), there are few aspects of human life that are not available also for felines.
Japan’s recession-immune pet industry is currently second only to the US in terms of size and value, with the pet care market this year peaking at $6.36bn, according to Euromonitor.
On a less heartening note for the nation, the meteoric rise of all things pet-related appears to have gone hand in hand with the decline of something arguably more valuable: the human demographic.
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