It's a dog's world as pooches make debut on catwalk (+photos)

By Danielle Demetriou

With glossy hair, sparkling eyes and a clinging dress in turquoise silk, the model floats along the catwalk amid a blaze of swirling lights, dance beats and the click of cameras.

So far, so fashion. But this is no ordinary catwalk show: the model is a white poodle, one of 20 dogs making their catwalk debut in Japan's first "human-canine" fashion show.

The dog industry is booming in Japan. The economy may be sluggish but that has failed to dent an expanding pet industry worth more than a trillion yen a year. The number of dogs has doubled to more than 13 million in the past decade. There are fewer children under 12 in Japan.

From dog yoga classes and sunglasses to gourmet restaurants and aromatherapy spas, there are few aspects of human life that have not been extended to include canines.

And so it was only a matter of time before the dogs hit the catwalk.

The white poodle made her modelling debut in Tokyo at the weekend during the New Year Dog Party, a canine-related extravaganza that attracted crowds of up to 20,000 dog-lovers.

More than 60 companies exhibited their merchandise and services. "One in five families has a dog in Japan and they are treated not like pets, but like part of the family," said Kumi Shiraishi, the producer of the event.

Centre stage were greyhounds in Rasta hats, poodles in polka-dot dresses and shih-tzus in studded biker jackets. But the best was a £10,000 ($25,000) Swarovski crystal-studded dog coat on the back of a dachshund, by the designer Manfred of Sweden.

"The Japanese see dogs as their children and so it is natural they want to give their dogs the very best," said Bjorn Gardsby of Manfred of Sweden.

- INDEPENDENT

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