Dog owners strut their mutts for Fashion X fundraiser benefiting Hounds for Heroes.

By Danielle Ortiz, Photo courtesy of Fashion X

Dogs and fashion don’t seem like the most obvious pairing, but when Suzanne Hofmann Erickson, founder of She-She Media & Design, heard cities throughout the country hosted charity fashion shows with dogs, she wondered why it wasn’t already happening in Austin.

“A friend of mine walked with her dog in a fashion show to raise money for a pet-centric charity in the Washington area,” Hofmann Erickson says. “I thought that since people in Austin love their pets and they love fashion, it’s the perfect marriage of two things.”

Feeling inspired, Hofmann Erickson reached out to Matt Swinney, CEO of Fashion X, the leading fashion-event producer in Texas, to combine these two passions to raise money for animals and veterans. After two years of planning, dogs and their humans will fill downtown venue 7Co Nov. 10 for the first Fashion X Furry Friends show in Austin. The fashion show will benefit local nonprofit Hounds for Heroes, which provides service dogs for veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and mobility issues.

In his 10 years at Fashion X, Swinney has often received requests for a dog fashion show but says he always held back, thinking it would be off brand. After Hofmann Erickson shared the success of a Fashion for Paws show in Washington, D.C., he changed his mind.

They decided to model the Austin event after Fashion for Paws. Honorees who buy a table for the dinner get to walk the runway with their dogs in tow and styled by local stores.

Hofmann Erickson will be one of eight honorees walking the stage with her 9-year-old Yorkshire terrier, Chico. It’s her first time modeling.

“Thankfully, I’ll have my dog with me to calm my nerves,” Hofmann Erickson says. “Chico is like my fourth child.”

Neither Swinney nor Hofmann Erickson were aware of Hounds for Heroes until Nulo Pet Food, one of the event sponsors, referred them to the nonprofit. It seemed like a perfect fit to honor Veterans Day.

“Organizations like Austin Pet Alive! get a lot of stuff coming their way, and so, Hounds for Heroes was one that most people haven’t heard of,” Swinney says. “It’s great to be able to support something that isn’t as obvious.”

Besides supporting Hounds for Heroes, Swinney hopes the show will change perceptions about the fashion industry and the military.

“The fashion scene is often illustrated as very liberal, and the conservatives have co-opted the military, so that was really important to me to support this cause,” Swinney says.

Dreaming of the next Fashion X Furry Friends shows, Hofmann Erickson says her vision is to continue growing the event to be as big as Washington, D.C.’s Fashion for Paws. She knows the important role dogs play in many people’s lives and helping bring that comfort to veterans is an honor for her.

“My kids are excited to see our family pet walk the runway, while I’m happy to bring people together that may not have come together before,” Hofmann Erickson says.

Unlike other Fashion X shows, this event will showcase brands rather than designers. Attendees can expect a more casual environment. For Hofmann Erickson and Swinney, this event is about philanthropy and fun.

As Swinney says, “Veterans and cute puppies: Why wouldn’t you want to go?”



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