IN THE CITY that produced greenie designer Leanne “Leanimal” Marshall, it seems only fitting that Portland’s most recent couture sensation is also a little, well, warm and fuzzy. Hatched by an Oregon tribe of 20- and 30-something Burning Man veterans (Alexander Mendeluk, Marley Marotta, Chase Hamilton, and Ashley Haber), Spirit Hoods are high-end faux-fur hats, complete with attached scarves that have pockets … and paws. They’re part function, part fashion, and entirely over the top. They’re also a hit: within a month of their February debut at Vegas’s famed Pool Trade Show—where fashion retailers find the hottest trends for their stores—Spirit Hoods (which has offices in Portland and Los Angeles) gained 3 Japanese accounts and nearly 30 US accounts—plus interest from the über-chic LA boutiques Kitson and Fred Segal.
“We feel like rock stars when we go out in them,” Mendeluk says. “People want to know you, to take pictures with you, to pet you.”
In fact, some real rock stars are wearing Spirit Hoods, like pop singer Ke$ha, whose debut album was named, appropriately, Animal. You can also spy them in the pages of Nylon, Flaunt, and Elle Japan. Or rock one of your very own: available in zebra, lion, leopard, snow leopard, wolf, panda, polar bear, brown bear, and black cat, the unisex hoods sell for $59 to $129. Buy a hood with the Product Blue logo on the tag, and a portion of the proceeds goes to charities that help protect endangered animals. Of course.
And, fortunately, unlike surgically forking your tongue or getting horn implants, this is animal fashion you can take off.