On a Sunday afternoon, the rooftops of a small but picturesque charming Italian town were covered in sunshine. Nearby, the sound of the sea, its waves creating a perfect harmony, complemented the view of the enchanting bay. Dan Caten was sitting opposite me, chatting with a smile on his face with the staff of the restaurant where we were meeting for lunch; he was completely charming with his simplicity, friendliness and approachability.
Dan, together with his brother Dean Caten, founded Dsquared2 in 1995 and made history with the brand. We had a chance to talk to him exclusively for MAG about Dsquared2, unforgettable memories, vision for the future and everything in between.
What adjectives would you use to describe Dsquared2?
Sexy, playful, uncontrived, honest and straightforward.
The brand celebrates its 28-year anniversary this year. Looking back, what are the milestones, events or collaborations that you will always remember?
That’s a tough one. Twenty-eight years is a long time and there are lots of milestones that have happened, starting with the development and growth of the brand, working with amazing artists from Madonna and Britney to Christina, and other adventures that have happened outside fashion and in the music industry. Also, getting the stamp of approval from that industry was very important for us, especially in the early years when we were just becoming known – it was the way to get us even more known. Starting a women’s collection, opening up our first stores, in particular the one when Rihanna did the fashion show and opened the store with us in Milan, around 15 years ago. Then buying our building, opening our headquarters and restaurant and other things we dreamed of doing that were becoming reality. And now still moving forward, and always having something to do, something interesting to say and keeping our eyes and ears open for the modern world and what it’s bringing, including the internet, the metaverse, these kinds of things, and just trying to stay current and true to ourselves.
In 2007 your first Dsquared2 flagship store was opened in Milan’s fashion district, followed by the opening of stores in all major fashion capitals and go-to luxury destinations, including Paris, London, New York, Hong Kong, Singapore, St. Moritz, Cannes, Miami, and others. How many stores do you currently have worldwide?
I think there are around 60. With retail it’s kind of hit or miss; you try things, you see if certain destinations, locations, sizes work and then you adapt – the retail industry is a difficult one and you constantly need to monitor its success factors in order to stay relevant. If it works, great, if it doesn’t work, you change it and that’s what we are learning. After time you start to understand combinations of all the important details and circumstances that matter. In the end, we’ve closed a few, we’ve opened a few more, so I think we have around 60 now.
What is your vision for Dsquared2 in the upcoming years?
Strong, steady growth. Staying modern, staying current and staying young. I think what’s important today is young people and what they are interested in. They truly are the future, so we always plan our steps with them in mind. And of course, sustainability and other things that can improve the world we live in.
Are you planning to take part in exploring the metaverse?
Yes, we are. It’s completely another world. Again, that’s why I think it’s really important to be surrounded by young people; they have a different way of thinking. We grew up in a world where – as funny as it may seem – thongs were a big deal, so I think that the metaverse is a whole other world that especially young people understand. It’s a bit more difficult for an older person to get into that space so I think it’s important to be with different kinds of people and different age groups to really understand what’s going on for the future.
What is your point of view on the sustainability of the fashion industry? Is this topic something you consider when it comes to deciding on your brand’s future?
Definitely. We are thinking about the world’s health, happiness and future. In April 2022 we launched a capsule collection “One Life One Planet” dedicated to our environmental work. It was very important for us to start the creative process by looking at fabrics and manufacturing practices with low environmental impact. Ensuring that all materials are organic and responsibly sourced, we used GOTS certified organic cotton for the graphic printed t-shirts and sweatshirts and a mix of recycled cotton and recycled nylon for the collection of bombers and jerseys. We also revolutionized our denim products, using a new technique with organic cotton that maximizes comfort with an innovative stretch yarn, while being more environmentally friendly by using over 50% of recycled content. I think it’s about time that people, companies and other important actors start to think about being more sustainable.
We would like to express our sincere gratitude to fashion icon Dan Caten, who has made this interview a pleasure and an honour.
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