Say Goodbye to Tacky Pet Accessories With laēlap’s Help
Lili Reinhardt and Charlotte Lawrence’s pups are fans of these handmade, personalized pearl necklaces.
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Hanna Kang, founder of the pet accessories brand laēlap, grew up moving back and forth between the U.S. and Korea. The only steady thing in her life was her family’s Jack Russell Terrier. “He taught me how special that human-dog bond was, that unconditional companionship and love, as I was struggling to make friends in grade school with a language barrier,” she tells The Wildest.
Kang’s love for her childhood dog knew no bounds, and as she grew older, she started to realize how much other people felt exactly the same way — to a pretty passionate degree. “Korean people love, love, love their pets and dressing them up,” she says. “It’s very normal and an everyday occurrence for people to be intentionally dressing up dogs to match their personal aesthetic.”
For example, if someone skews toward minimalism in their personal style, wearing black sweatshirts, their dog could, too. For someone who prefers a classic, almost preppy look, they could match her mariner-striped sweater to their dog’s. Kang adds: “It was weird, in a way, because you could tell who had the strongest attachment to their dog based on whose dogs matched them. I was witnessing the beginning of a culture shift in pet accessories from function to fashion.”
Seoul is considered the rising capital of pet fashion in the world; America, on the other hand, has a long way to go in comparison. Back home, Kang went to various chains of pet stores and small boutiques searching for dog clothes that would mirror her own style — minimal but with pops of color — but didn’t find anything that matched what she had in mind. “There’s just so much poorly made and tacky dog clothing,” she says. What she wanted wasn’t just chic dog accessories but something that wasn’t mass-produced and environmentally unfriendly.
As a solution, Kang started laēlap, a line that’s a hybrid: a mix of American and Korean aesthetics and both fashionable and functional. “I wanted everyday pieces, like T-shirts and onesies, with new ways of accessorizing like necklaces, which are so good for dogs who wear harnesses instead of collars,” she says.
At laēlap, you can find striped turtlenecks and necklaces (yes, you can get one to match) with your pet’s name spelled out in letters and freshwater pearls and Czech glass beads. There are puffer-style jackets with scarves attached and a classic yellow raincoat. It’s crisp and modern — the kind of clothes humans would want to wear. Not this brand needs an added cool factor, but actress Lili Reinhardt and musician Charlotte Lawrence have both outfitted their pups in Kang’s designs.
The materials are, as a bonus, recycled, renewable, or responsibly sourced, which means that they upcycle fabric for their collections and use recycled polyester from plastic bottles for their jackets. They use scrap fabric leftovers from the various Seoul-based factories they work with. This fall, they have two new jackets coming out and a collaboration Kang won’t yet reveal. Accessories for cats are not far behind.
It all comes back to Kang’s bond with dogs. She had been thinking of getting a dog on her own for a long time. “I was dog-less when I was first living in New York, and I adopted him in Korea,” she says. He was at her side during the pandemic to help with the isolation and anxiety. Just like her, he’s Korean, born and raised in America, and bilingual.
“When my family says, ‘sit’ in Korean, he understands and when I say ‘down’ in English he gets it.” Based on this close bond, you can easily tell pet mom and pup are as thick as thieves, but their matching purple laēlap shirts seal the deal.
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Marisa Meltzer has contributed to The New York Times, Vogue, Vanity Fair, and is the author of This Is Big: How the Women Who Founded Weight Watchers Changed the World (and Me). She lives in New York City with her dog Joan.