There are few extremes to which doglovers won’t go to express their affection for their pooches, including, in certain celebrity cases, buying them diamond-encrusted collars or carrying them around in Louis Vuitton handbags that cost more than the GDP of a small country. But for the regular dog owner who wants to make just as bold a statement– one that reflects their pet’s uniqueness and colourful personality – without putting a dent the size of Texas in their bank account, there really is only one brand of choice… and that’s Chommies!
Serving pure style, doggy style
Proudly South African, Chommies specialise in luxury dog accessories handmade by local artisans. These wares are then sold through a constellation of outlets around the Cape and country, including Ebony/Curated in Franschhoek, the Zeitz MOCAA Art Gallery at the V&A Waterfront and Singita Safari Lodges. Think non-rusting brass hardware, leather detailing, and kaleidoscopic beadwork rendered into contemporary, high-quality collars, leashes and harnesses. They even do treats, toys, nametags and a cornucopia of other useful accessories for dogs and cats.
The overall Chommies aesthetic is bright, bold, vibrant and occasionally raw. Think of it as delivering a nod to South Africa’s beautiful natural heritage and a sneaky wink and a smile to your pet’s kooky uniqueness. Moreover, unlike that diamond-encrusted collar, you won’t cry when your pooch goes tearing down the beach or rolling around in the mud in their fancy accessories because each piece is durable and resilient, made from exceptional quality materials to survive even the most unhinged episodes of ‘the zoomies’.
Meet the founder, Nathalie Klijn
So, who is the mastermind behind Chommies’ striking walkwear for pets? Nathalie Klijn is her name, and she was born in Stuttgart, Germany. In 2012, life brought her to Cape Town, where she was promptly seduced into staying (the Mother City has that effect on people). She then “did the thing” … the thing that makes turning back impossible. She adopted a puppy. With her new puppy Ringo as her muse, Nathalie Klijn picked up a bit of a side hustle making collars, first for her own dog and then for friends. Over time, enchanted by the people she met and their many talents and generational artistry in weaving, macramé and beadwork, Nathalie began building the lifestyle brand she’d always dreamt of.
Named after the South African colloquial term for ‘friends’, the brand stands today as a loving ode to our pets’ roles in our lives as dearest companions and, let’s be honest, therapists.
What’s new, pussy cat? (Whoa!)
The latest range from the house of Chommies is called Clifton 1st after Clifton’s only dog-friendly beach. Tucked into the steep foothills of Lion’s Head, Clifton is a white-sand beach with westward-facing views over the glittering Atlantic Ocean. Taking inspiration from this iconic location, Chommies’ Clifton 1st range embraces a sense of summer fun with its gorgeous and bright, polychromatic beaded designs. Masterfully made and durable despite their delicate aesthetic, these beaded collars and leashes embrace the laid-back vacation culture and vivacious beach vibe that feels so totally unique to this part of the Cape.
Then there’s the Chommies African Ecstasy range, which incorporates non-rusting brass hardware, leather detailing anda colour palette that ranges from burning Highveld sunset to springtime Namaqualand blooms, all of which capture the raw, untameable beauty of our country.
A new location!
Until now, Chommies has had its luxury goods in a variety of stores peppered about the Cape and country, but now the fashion house has opened its very own concept store on 110 Hatfield Street in Cape Town, located in a beautiful building previously known as Ravenswood House – a national monument built in the late classical Georgian style. “As we naturally evolve into more of a lifestyle brand that celebrates colour-happy contemporary design and artisanal luxuries made in South Africa, we wanted a feel-good, welcoming space that is a sensory experience for people and dogs alike, as well as one that allows us to develop and showcase new products in home, fashion and accessories,” explains Nathalie Klijn. Here, guests can peruse Chommies’ full repertoire of products, while pets are encouraged to convene in the dog-friendly courtyard and hang out, have a drink of water, and even romp through the water fountain.
The Chommies philosophy is really about capturing the connection between humans and animals. It’s about adorning our beloved pets with accessories that honour their unique personalities, which is a small gesture in return for the gifts they so abundantly heap upon us, not only in the form of companionship, but also as much-needed reminders to live in the moment, trust recklessly and love with our whole hearts.