Pups Stay Cozy in Cashmere Dog Scarves and Sweaters

By Janet Upadhye on December 3, 2013 7:40am 

FORT GREENE — Fashion designer Paula Cheng chose the softest cashmere and purest wool for her latest accessories line, taking great care not to select anything that would give her customers a painful itch.

After all, the women's knitwear designer was creating a line for her pickiest clients yet — dogs and cats as choosy as her beloved Chihuahua, Monkie.

"I love my dog so much and couldn't find any quality sweaters to buy him, so I started to knit him my own custom-designed sweaters," said Cheng, who recently launched the luxury pet wear and accessories company "Monkie and Co." 

Her sweaters — which retail online for $15 to $90 each — are made from luxurious materials like cashmere, wool, baby alpaca and silky mohair. But it's the lack of seams that makes dogs love her sweaters, she said.

"Seams rub on dogs' fur and make them uncomfortable," Cheng said. "My sweaters are structured differently so that they comfortably hug around the dog's chest."

The designer said she got the idea to make luxe dog clothes after Monkie got an allergy that left him with a bald spot on his hindquarters, making him sensitive to industrial sweaters, she said.

"Monkie gets very cold but didn't like to wear sweaters, until now," she said. "He was just shivering in the cold," she said. "Store-bought sweaters look cute, but they don't keep him warm."

The graduate of Parsons the New School for Design noticed dogs shivering in sweaters throughout the winter in Brooklyn and thought there might be a demand for warmer animal clothing.

Cheng's "Momo Memory Sweater" stretches to almost twice its size, so it can fit small and medium-sized pups snugly.

Cheng will be selling her knitwear at Artists & Fleas in Williamsburg on Dec. 21 and 22 and again on Jan. 4 and 5.

Stylish dog scarves are also part of her collection, in a nod to owners looking for nonessential but cute pet fashion options.

"Scarves aren’t completely necessary but they keep dogs extra cozy, and they look so cute," Cheng said.

Dogs aren't the only critters for which Cheng has made clothes — she has also designed for cats, rabbits and hamsters.

"I made the tiniest hamster sweater for a friend," she said. "But to be honest, the hamster hated it."

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