Do you remember when the strawberry dress became the internet’s favorite item of clothing last year? I do, and I also remember the collective hit most of us took when we saw the price tag on Lirika Matoshi’s oh-so-cute frilly dress. Like many, I resigned myself to making Picrews of myself with the strawberry dress on, living vicariously through my pixelated self.
What if I told you it was possible to live vicariously through your pets instead?
If you don’t believe me, check out Pawtelier de Melon on Instagram. The shop makes handmade clothing tailored to your pets, from stylish barongs, cute pastel puff dresses, and, you guessed it, to strawberry dresses. If you don’t have the means to dress yourself, you can dress your pet in your dream aesthetic. And if you’re fortunate enough to already have the human version of these pieces (hi good for you but I lowkey hate you), you can be matchy-matchy with your pet.
Lirika Matoshi strawberry dress DIY but it’s my dog 🍓😎🍓 pic.twitter.com/9cYgPdDRnR
— 🐠 (@niiika74) September 17, 2020
I talked to the shop’s owner, Nika Enriquez, about the shop and designing for animals.
I actually found out about your shop because of the Selkie Obsessed FB group, which is made up of fans of the clothing brand Selkie and frilly fashion in general. I saw rave reviews of your pieces, especially the ones that look like Selkie’s signature puff dress. Did you know that you have an international following?
I’m really happy that people are enjoying the pieces I’m making! I have a few clients from abroad, but I didn’t know that I had an international following.
The person who first commissioned the pet puff dresses told me she posted photos in the Selkie Obsessed group. I got messages for more orders from people saying they saw her post, but this is the first time I heard that more of my stuff is on there. I’m very thankful that my creations have crossed borders and people beyond the Philippines are appreciating them as well.
What led you to start the shop?
I started making pet clothes as a way to unwind from university work during Christmas break back in 2018. I actually wanted to make outfits for myself but there were too many ideas and not enough time, so I thought of making them for my dog, Melon, instead. I started dressing her up for family gatherings and my family encouraged me to share the outfits online, which led me to open the Instagram account. Pawtelier de Melon was originally a place where I just shared photos of my dog in random outfits (and it still is!), but a few months in and some people inquired about getting customs for their pets. I then decided to accept commissions and the rest is history.
I mostly see dogs wearing your clothes, though I have seen a few cats on your TL. As a cat parent myself, I’m curious: What’s the dog-cat ratio of your clients?
I’ve actually only done around 5 cats! I love cats and I wish I could work with more but maybe since my dog is my only model, it’s not really known that I can make clothes for cats too. So if anyone reading this has a cat and wants a cute outfit for them, hit me up!
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Do you have any favorite pieces?
Too many! If it’s the people-to-pet outfits, I’d say the Lirika Matoshi-inspired strawberry dress and the Selkie-inspired puff dress. I love the original pieces so it was challenging to figure out how to create those dresses for pets and quite time-consuming to make, but so much fun. From my own designs, my favorite would be the doll dress with floral embroidery since I’m a fan of vintage and classic lolita fashion. I’ve done a few of them for commissions and I make sure each embroidered center is different. That way, every dress is unique! Special mention to the “Attack on Titan” survey corps costume and the barong Tagalog and baro’t saya sets done for Buwan ng Wika 2019.
What’s the nicest or funniest feedback/interaction you’ve had with a client?
I had a client who ordered a Peter Pan collar for a big dog. She told me that her dog kept taking it off, so she’s using the collar for herself since it fits her well too! Hahaha. But my favorite interactions are when clients tell me that their parents or grandparents like the outfits. My mom was my first sewing teacher and she’s quite hard to please when it comes to both designs and quality, so I always feel extra accomplished when clients’ parents or grandparents are happy too.
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What do you think is most important when crafting pretty clothes for animals? How do you make sure it’s comfortable for them?
I find it important to treat projects as if they were to be made for yourself. Don’t skimp on material and method. Go beyond what’s in the market. To make the outfits comfortable, I like to add some allowance to the base measurements or the measurements my clients send me for ease of breathing and movement – unless, of course, the client sends measurements with allowance already. Sometimes, animals have allergic reactions to certain fabric so it’s important to work with the client to find the right material to use.
Will you ever be branching out into other kinds of animal wear? The idea of a tiny little hamster wearing a strawberry dress or walking a dog with a frilly leash is so much and I would love to see it happen!
I have not yet been able to create outfits for other animals apart from clients’ requests and my pets since I only have them to practice on, but I’m definitely open to trying to create clothes for other animals as well. Pawtelier de Melon also has a ready-to-wear shop for accessories like capes and collars which anyone can use for any of their pets as long as it fits.
I recently got into crochet so I can make fun hats for my hedgehog. Once I am able to consistently make more of these with quality, I will also be opening them for commissions. I think the little crochet hats would look super cute on all kinds of animals, especially birds and reptiles. Stay tuned for that!
Art by Pammy Orlina
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