Go inside the worlds of art, fashion, design, and lifestyle.
Tomorrow, Dsquared2 is set to digitally debut its men’s and women’s Spring/Summer 2021 pre-collection. As Milan Men’s Fashion Week takes on a new approach, the brand will be dazzling through the screen, showing the atelier’s latest creations through a live-stream video. This year, the brand is also celebrating 25 years in business. The recent challenges brought on by the global Coronavirus pandemic have shown co-founders and brothers Dean and Dan Caten how their bond, and their label, is continuing to grow in new ways.
Whitewall spoke with the Catens about Dsquared2’s evolution from fashion to experience, understanding the importance of self-acceptance and self-confidence, and how the new collection embodies the brand’s values—old and new.
WHITEWALL: How are you doing and how did you spend the isolation period during the COVID-19 outbreak?
DEAN & DAN CATEN: This period has presented challenges both mental and physical. Although tough, we have taken on and accepted the struggles and are learning from it. The closeness that we have gained with one another has helped us help each other with accepting the ways in which the world is changing right in front of us.
We are continuing to feed our mind and souls by reading, listening to our favorite artists, trying new workouts, and sometimes just relaxing. It is important that we all be as gracious as possible with ourselves during this time as we are creating a new blueprint for how we all interact.
WW: How has the pandemic impacted the way you view your brand moving forward?
D&D: The challenging situation has pushed all of us to reassess our lives and our work. It made us step back and breathe for a second, though the minds of creatives never tend to stop. We have never stopped working from home, thanks to the support of our digital and technology teams, and [we’ve] discovered new ways to do it.
We are always in fashion, in every moment of our life, and we are adamant about our ideas adjusting and taking new shape while staying close to the brand’s DNA. The truth is that this experience made us stronger and more reflective. The times have opened us up to a new perspective of creativity and new opportunities to valorize our brand that this year turns 25 years.
WW: Have you been particularly inspired by anything while in isolation?
D&D: This moment really turned our world upside down. Surely, we had more time to take care of ourselves, and reconnect with friends and family through a completely new way of communicating. Also, we have been rediscovering all the great classics inside of both film and music! We recently watched movies like Judy, Bohemian Rhapsody, and The Talented Mr. Ripley. Let’s just say there were lots of tears. Haha!
WW: Tell us a bit about growing up in Canada, and the creative journey that led to your label’s foundation in Milan. Was there an “aha” moment when you knew fashion was something you wanted to professional pursue?
D&D: We have always known that fashion would be our life. Fashion was honestly the only thing that made us feel free, and from that realization, we never imaged anything else for ourselves! It was never really easy, but we were determined and passionate, which really worked out for us. We are identical twins of an Italian immigrant father and English mother, raised in the suburbs of Toronto with the dream of creating something iconic.
The English and Italian culture with which we grew up, our Canadian roots, and life-working experiences within the U.S., Italy, and UK, have always been the basis and the inspirations for everything in the Dsquared2 Universe. After studying and experiencing, we just wanted to develop our brand and think how to transfer our ideas of fashion into reality by utilizing positive messages.
Yes, we were born in Canada, but Italy welcomed us, evolved us, and inspired us in a way that we have always felt this country to be our home. We feel thrilled and grateful every day because we own our brand and we still are able to do what we love most.
WW: How has Dsquared2 evolved from a denim label to a global lifestyle brand over the past 25 years? What is the DNA of Dsquared2 today?
D&D: Denim is part of our DNA and it is the link from our past. When we were little, our father didn’t want us to wear it because it made us look poor (we were poor) and we could not afford it anyway. It became an object of desire because it was something that we really loved. And here we are, all of these years later, and it still is one of our largest points for creativity. Over time, as we gained more knowledge about the world we live in, it became inevitable for the brand to reflect these changes.
Our ideas have evolved and after establishing Dsquared2 menswear. We launched the first women’s collection in 2003; after two years, the underwear collection; followed by fragrances and accessories; then passing through the kid’s collection; and adding new brand values to our DNA.
Finally, we have turned our passion into a lifestyle with Ceresio 7 (a restaurant and pools; a gym and a spa) for experiencing and combining the things we love to do through our vision. We like to think that today Dsquared2 is more of an experience and can leave you full with different emotions. It is always about fashion, but we’ve incorporated lifestyle to give you a different view of our vision. This anniversary year was is very special to us, and we are lucky enough to have celebrated with an event in January that still excites us!
WW: You have long since been inspired by art and have an extensive collection of works in your Milan guesthouse. Can you tell us a bit about your relationship with art?
D&D: We like to discover new works because they all present a different visual story. The way that this art makes us feel we hope is parallel to how our work makes others feel. Every piece is able to be viewed from a different perspective and they all equally hold so much meaning. Sometimes we lock our eyes on some images, and start to have visions and ideas pop up. Not only is this inspiring, it is also very therapeutic for us.
WW: How did you approach designing the looks for Jennifer Lopez’s tour?
D&D: Luckily, we have always had the opportunity to work with great and talented artists who have a very special place in the brands heart in terms of value, inspiration, and they have in many ways become our muses. Jennifer Lopez is absolutely one of them! With her style, and self-confidence she inspired us and has taken on what the brand means for her.
The looks we created for Jennifer Lopez’s American Music Award performance were uniquely made for her and her dancers. In custom Fall/Winter 2015, her and her dancers performed some of our favorites, like “Waiting for Tonight” and a mashup of other artist’s songs. They wore luxurious fur coats and vests over embroidered body tattoos for an explosive performance look. The bodysuit made specifically for Jennifer was handcrafted with rich embroidery that emphasized on the details of the look.
WW: You also had another musician appear in your clothing—like Rihanna on the runway. How did that moment shape you?
D&D: We will never forget that moment. It was one of our best experiences and it consecrated and made us who we are today! Rihanna walked out in our Spring/Summer 2008 runway show wearing a black baby doll [dress that was] short in front with a long hem flitting behind her as she walked.
Later, at the end of the show, she came out in a long plum halter gown bejeweled at the neck, while her song Umbrella played! We still today feel very excited and honored to dress such a star like her. The experience was stellar, and it has been lovely to see how far she’s come from then up until now.
WW: Within the past few years, you have opened up about your childhood, and allowed the public to see parts of your brotherly love. Can you tell us about your strong bond and overcoming obstacles together over the years?
D&D: Our bond is the most precious thing we have and working together has contributed significantly to our success. We are completely in tune, and while growing up, we understood the importance of self-acceptance and self-confidence. We are a team, a family, a duo, and it’s reassuring to know that you can trust someone blindly!
We complete each other and we would not function without the other, as Dsquared2 is all about two creative forces coming together. We work together on collections because we share common creative influences. We have an open design dialogue to keep the continuity between the lines.
WW: What does your next collection embody?
D&D: We will put all our brand values in the collection—the old and the new ones. Our work always seems to really be about the efforts of time and with that being said it is important that we focus in on our team and our consumers for this new collection.