Us Brits are used to bad weather. It's the reason our humour matches the colour of the sky, and why our upper lip remains stiff even when the forecast looks like something the cat dragged in.
As I write we've just emerged from the most miserable few weeks of bad weather, even by our standards.
The Sid and Nancy of the meteorological world (aka the Beast from the East and Storm Emma) met somewhere over Somerset and engaged in a brief and destructive liaison dangereuse across the entire UK, leaving a trail of wintery devastation in their wake.
It was, as my East End relatives would say, a bit taters.
But dog owners, on the whole, are a hardy bunch. It takes more than a few feet of blizzard-drifted snow to keep us from our daily walks. And dogs don't give a monkey's about the weather, in fact snow seems to send them into a frenzy as soon as they feel it under their paws, behaving like snow virgins each and every time.
Reason #645 why I love dogs a bit more than humans.
But it's not all fun, fun, fun. They do get cold and wet, and our Cockers (being long of hair) come back from a snowy walk absolutely covered in massive snowballs, to the point that they can't actually walk.
Funny, but not funny.
I've spent the past few years trying to find coats and jumpers to fit our dogs, without much luck. Seems to generally be the case that dog clothing comes in S, M and L sizes, and we all know that that's not how dogs are made.
Frank, our bulldog, is the hardest to find a coat for. Being large of head and chest, but short in the body it's really difficult to find a size for him. You can either get a large one which will fit over his head and around his chest, but it'll be way too long in the body, or if you go for a short length there's absolutely no chance of getting it over his head.
Who you calling a Big Head?
One particularly high end and expensive dog clothing company actually said to me, when I asked if they had their £145 coat in a bulldog size, 'We don't cater specifically for a bulldog, but what a lot of our customers do is buy this one and then split it down the back.'
I kid you not.
Why would you spend £145 on a garment which doesn't fit to then have to take the scissors to it?
I've found the same issue with knitwear. You buy a large so you can physically get it over Frank's head, but the rest of the body swamps him.
This got me thinking...if I'm struggling to find clothes to fit my dogs, I'm guessing I'm not alone. In fact I know this is a universal problem from when I post pictures of Frank, Nancy and Buster on Instagram in their new prototype jumpers, that people are in the same boat as us.
This isn't a boat, it's a Landrover.
So I decided to make my own.
Not so much me making them with MY actual hands (my mum will tell you how much I love knitting), but working with the most incredible designers, tailors, knitwear companies, weavers, leatherwear craftspeople, jewellery casters and embroiderers who are using THEIR actual, very skilled hands, applying techniques that have been used for, like, ever.
Just another day in the office.
Feels totally liberating to finally say this out loud...
We are launching a luxury, breed-specific canine apparel and accessories brand manufacturing exclusively in Great Britain from the finest quality materials.
It's been two and a half years in the planning, which sounds like a long time, but that's because we've cogitated, deliberated and ruminated over every single item. From zips and rivets, to shearling skins and neoprene, we've created a beautiful range of the most incredible coats, knitwear, collars, leads and other gorgeous adornments that seem befitting (and the least we can do in gratitude) of adored dogs everywhere.
We've chosen materials that are kind to our beloved best friends (and the environment) - 100% eco cashmere, rare breed organic sheepskins, our own cloth woven in London's only micro-mill, English bridle leather and solid brass hardware made in the heart of England's saddlery industry.
It's been challenging, but two and half years later we can finally say that our brand is ready for launch!
Did someone say this was the 'Year of the Dog'...?