DEAN AND DAN CATEN DARED TO DREAM FROM THEIR HOMETOWN OF WILLOWDALE, TORONTO. NOW, A DECADE AFTER THE LAUNCH OF THEIR FIRST MENSWEAR COLLECTION, THE PAIR STAND AT THE HELM OF THEIR OWN FASHION EMPIRE.
words by YASMIN ZEINAB photography courtesy by DSQUARED2
Together the identical twins have created the Dsquared2 universe where everything is as fabulous as the duo themselves. The expression ‘two heads are better then one’ has never been truer then with the Catens who manage to remain unpredictable in an industry where almost everything has been seen and done. But it’s not just their work that brings them together, the twins are joined at the hip from dressing alike to living under the same roof, they’ve never spent more then a few days apart.
“We complete each other and we have never thought to do something separately”,
say the Catens. The youngest of nine children the two speak highly of their childhood in Toronto, describing the city of their youth as an “exciting and inspiriting…” place to grow up. But it’s no secret that the Catens are proud of their roots, playfully expressing their Canadian heritage through their designs over the years. The duo have always had their sights set on fashion designing clothes for their sisters at an early age. Yet it was their mother that provided the starting point of their inspiration, “we looked at her and just imaged how to create something that fitted at her,” they tell us. When we learn about their history it’s no surprise the ambitious pair are where they are today. Packing their bags at age 19 for a short stint at New York’s Parsons School for Design, the Catens returned to Toronto where they became junior designers for a Canadian label, Ports International. After working their way up to become the label’s head designers, the duo returned to their Italian roots moving to Milan in 1991 where their success story would truly begin. A year after, finding their foundation in denim the designing duo launched their namesake brand Dsquared2.
“Basically, we started designing denim because we think it can be very electric…it can be casual and glam at the same time.”
It’s this practical approach and unwavering commitment to their designs that has seen Dsquared2 expand into a global powerhouse since their first menswear collection in 1994. The development of their brand steams from the Catens desire to “factually develop our vision of fashion and to create something that totally represents us and our ideas of men and women’s style.” While it was denim that catapulted the pair into the world of fashion, they now oversee an impressive portfolio spanning from fragrances to shoes and bags. Adding womenswear to their repertoire with their inaugural collection in 2003, the two continue to produce practical designs that travel seamlessly from runway to real life.
“We are not conceptual designers, fashion is not a matter of being intellectual,”
assert the Catens. “It’s more a matter of having fun with colors, different items and accessories to make every day life less serious. We feel like this and we try to infuse this spirit through our Dsquared2 universe.” As for the Dsquared2 man, he is “self-aware and mature” say the duo. “He is stylish and elegant at the same time. He never considers himself predicted.” And predicted is one thing the Catens are definitely not. The savvy brothers are more than just designers; they are unpredictable showmen who continue to surprise the fashion world season after season. The duo never do themes half heartily, their shows are always more than just great clothes with each production outdoing the last. Over the years, their runways have transformed into everything from the Rocky Horror Show to a campsite and classroom. For one of their spring collections the pair took their audience to Glastonbury transforming the runway into mud midshow just like the festival itself. More recently, the Catens drew inspiration from Andy Warhol’s Factory with the creation of Stud2io for their Spring 2015 menswear show. Earlier this year the pair channelled their inner bad boy and took their collection into prison turning the runway into the Dsqaured2 Penitentiary. When asked about the creative process behind their productions, the Catens tell us it is about following their “intuitions and turning them in something real… to show our vision and spirit.” Like everything they do “together is the keynote” of their speech. “Together we make decisions about everything from the collections, to the models, music and set design. We make each of these elements personal because they’re part of the entire creativity process.” The pair keep tight-lipped about what we can expect next responding “who knows…just Dsquared2.” But if their recent collections are anything to go by we can expect daring things from fashions finest duo. The Catens show no signs of slowing down any time soon with hopes to spread the Dsquared2 spirit together long into the future.
“ We want make the Dsquared2 universe even more extended and wrapping for our clients in terms of fashion and lifestyle… like a personal experience that totally surrounds you!”