Wallace and Gromit create dog clothes with NI’s UrbanPup
The creators of Wallace and Gromit have merged their talents with a company from Northern Ireland to manufacture dog clothing and accessories for the global market.
Aardman, the billion dollar name behind The Wrong Trousers, Chicken Run and Shaun the Sheep, reached out to Co Down man Denis Kelly in a short, simple email asking for a collaboration.
Today, eight months later, they announce the worldwide availability of a range of Wallace and Gromit dog clothes by UrbanPup.
From his warehouse in Balloo, Bangor, Denis said the chance of a lifetime might have passed him by.
He explained: “I’m just glad I didn’t miss that email. It was an initial intro and I didn’t know it was from Aardman, and it wasn’t until after a few exchanges of messages Aardman was mentioned along with Wallace and Gromit.
“They had seen that we were making dog football shirts for the Northern Ireland and Scotland football team and they asked me what I would think of making a range for Wallace and Gromit.
“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I’m a Wallace and Gromit fan so I knew who I was dealing with right away and it was huge. I only had to think about it for a second, just to catch my breath before saying yes.
“My stomach hit the floor because they’re absolutely huge, an award-winning brand, huge in the US and across Europe and the UK and I thought it would be a big break for us if we could go there to arrive.”
Denis, 60, set up UrbanPup in 2007 with business partner Andrew Cosgrove, from Lisburn, Co Antrim.
Denis explained that the idea for the business was born out of a chance conversation with his daughter about the Kelly family dog, Buster.
He said: ‘Buster was just a puppy and my daughter was worried he would get cold walking around so she bought a little coat to keep him warm.
“It made me think of people in London and the United States who at the time dressed their dogs in designer clothes and I felt the trend would probably come to Northern Ireland as well.
“So we started making good quality leashes, collars, coats and harnesses and the sales started coming in. That was 14 years ago and we have never looked back. The demand is huge, and now we even make pajamas, onsies, terry dressing gowns and car cradles to keep dogs safe while traveling.
“So teaming up with Aardman has been an amazing experience and a huge boost and now we’re ready for people to enjoy what we’ve created together under the Wallace and Gromit brand at UrbanPup.
“We are a big company that loves dogs and we are a family that loves dogs. Sadly, our dog Buster passed away two years ago at the age of 12. He had been diagnosed with diabetes and in the end we had to let him go in peace and that was one of the hardest things we had to deal with as a family.
“We’ll bring another dog into our lives someday, but even two years later we’re still pretty raw about Buster and we’re just not ready to have another dog yet.
“When the time is right we’ll take the plunge and in the meantime I guess we have Buster to thank for so much success including being recognized by Aardman. Without Buster we probably wouldn’t have gone into dog clothes and accessories business at all.
“The Aardman team were great to work with and we continued design and production and explained that the quality had to be the same as what we always produce, it had to be practical, washable, fashionable, durable and good to watch.
“They agreed and basically let us do our part of the deal while they sent us the footage they wanted to use and we’re all very proud of the end results.”
UrbanPup’s Wallace and Gromit range goes on sale Monday October 4 and after accepting operational silence on the deal for the past eight months, Denis said he was delighted and relieved to be able to talk about the new venture.
He said: “Aardman wanted to have a range of Wallace and Gromit products that would be taken seriously, be fashionable and practical, so they really wanted to mix the two brands together to produce this range.
“We suggested that we could do the famous sou’wester yellow coat and hat, and although it was quite difficult to do, we did it and now we have a PVC outer coat and hat with ear flaps, both fully fleece lined and waterproof.
“Then we have Wallace’s sweater with shirt and tie in a chunky knit that slips over the dog’s head.
“We also made a rainproof fleece lined coat, collar, leash and harness as well as the collar bandana in the same print. We already had an UrbanPup print with umbrellas that Aardman liked and with the help of their design team in the emails we added Gromit in the sou’wester and bag.
“Looking back, the whole experience was amazing. Being invited to join this industry giant was one of those times when I needed to pinch myself.
“We probably wouldn’t have approached them myself because it’s such a big company and I would expect an email from people like me to get lost in the sheer number they The fact that they came to us and asked us to work together was just amazing.
“It gives a lot of credibility to our brand and it feels like all the work we’ve done over the years has been recognized now and that’s a very satisfying feeling.
“Our major markets are currently England, Scotland and Wales, followed by France, Italy, Spain and Scandinavia. We have a good market in Australia and a decent market in the United States and Canada.
“Now, having worked with Aardman, we believe the business will expand further and also help us put Northern Ireland on the map and that feels good too.”
Adam Vincent-Garland, Category Manager at Aardman, said: “Gromit remains one of the most recognizable pooches in the world, so it’s only fitting that he finally has his own line of high-end pet fashion apparel. quality.
“Urban Pup has done a great job creating the collection in time for the new Fall/Winter season. Each piece features attention to detail that fans of the series will appreciate. From London, Paris to West Wallaby Street – all over in the world you walk your canine friends in; now pet lovers can do it in style with this fabulous and fun collection.”
Aardman is estimated to have a global value of $1.1 billion worldwide.