Dogs can go on walks, tag along to brunch, and beg for scraps under the table naked. Most exist comfortably in society without any clothes — but not Ivana Kochanova's 12-year-old Yorkshire terrier named Lilly. According to Kochanova, Lilly needs to be dressed at all times. If not, she grows anxious and might even run and hide.
"We have to dress her every day, and when we take off the dress, she gets uncomfortable, like she's naked," Kochanova tells New Times. "So even at home we have to put a t-shirt or pajama on her. Then she's fine."
Fortunately for Lilly, her owner runs a dog fashion boutique. Kochanova named it Lilly's Dog Fashion after her own four-legged fashionista. Kochanova sells everything from doggie T-shirts and tanks, to doggie wedding dresses and tuxedos, and even doggie sandals and rain boots. They run in all sizes to accommodate the tiniest teacups and the biggest Mastiffs. Nine years ago, Kochanova opened her first location in Slovakia and has since opened two more there. This week, she opened her fourth store off Federal Highway in Fort Lauderdale.
"People like their dogs better than friends and even some family," Kochanova says. "They really take care of them and take them everywhere and even dress them."
It's not the first dog fashion store to come to Fort Lauderdale. But whereas other shops focus on accessories like collars, leashes, and bows or only cater to smaller breeds, Lilly's Dog Fashion sells mostly clothes. Kochanova tries to keep her prices low and most garments range from $19 to $29, she says, making it the Forever 21 of the dog fashion world.
Kochanova's shop looks like Elle Woods' bedroom from the set of Legally Blonde. Everything is pink and white. Pink paw prints are stamped throughout the store. Pink flowers and pink balloons are everywhere. Kochanova even drives a white Fiat with her shop's signature pink paw prints on it.
But Kochanova hopes customers aren't fooled by the girly, pink theme. Kochanova also sells clothes for the most masculine dogs. She has sports jerseys, camouflage hunting shirts, and a cowboy costume. "We sell an FBI rain jacket with four rain boots that my golden retriever wears," she says.
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From casual shirts and pajamas to fancier gala dresses and tuxedos, Kochanova tried to offer clothes for any event. She also sells rhinestone collars, leashes, bows, sandals, rain boots, and even hats and life jackets. Kochanova tries to offer clothes in all different patterns and styles so owners can match with their dogs. "It happens accidentally with my Lilly all the time," Kochanova says. "I'll be wearing a yellow dress and I'll look down and see that Lilly is dressed the same way."
Kochanova moved to Fort Lauderdale last month with her husband and four-year-old daughter. But since her dogs are getting older, she didn't want to bring them on the international hours-long flight to America. They're currently being taken care of by Kochanova's mother in Slovakia. "Everything has been hard," Kochanova says about moving to Fort Lauderdale.
Kochanova tries to stay positive and focus on her work. She's already planning a doggie fashion show in the next month and hopes to throw costume contests, too. Kochanova is already noticing different dog fashion trends here in Florida.
"The fashion is different here," she says. "It's hot in Florida and people really like the life jackets and hats for their doggies."