In Conversation With Dsquared2's Dean and Dan Caten

“Right foot, left foot,” said Dean and Dan Caten when asked about the future plans of Dsquared2, the brand they founded in 1995 that celebrates a quarter of a century this year. Talking with the two designers it’s surprising how, despite the global success of their work, they still manage to live life day by day. “Expectations always lead to delusions so we don’t have any, we just do and keep doing,” they explained. “The rest is up to the universe even more in today's fast forward society.” Canadian born and raised and younger twins amongst nine brothers, their childhood has been tougher than the fashion system is today. In 1983, they moved to New York to study at Parsons School of Design and, eight years later,they arrived in Milano with eyes full of dreams. Those fantasies then became reality when, in 1995, they launched their first collection for men. It was at that moment that two stars were born. Only five years after their first Menswear collection, rockstar Madonna ordered the full wardrobe for the video 'Don’t tell me', in 2003 theirWomenswear line debuted and, since then, countless celebrities have chosen their looks. In 2013 there was the opening of Ceresio 7 pool andrestaurant in Milano, the gym and Spa swiftly followed four years later and the guest house was inaugurated in 2018. “After all it’s like every day. It’s the next day. We are just more prepared, the more you do something, the better you hopefully get at it.” 

The two radiate energy and enthusiasm as beginners and it's surprisinghow they effortlessly modulate with the quick-changing times. They are very linked to showbiz and star system, something that made them keep the same pace of what's new. “The uncertainty of today excite us. We see it as a modern reality, you just have to accept, deal with it and be not scared about. We look a lot to young generations because there are positive and negative things in everything that let you discover something new every day. We like it, so what’s next?” 

 

Their obsession for the future keeps them alive and up to date, although rooted in their past, the nostalgia is not part of their visionit's just the magnifying lens that allows them to read the future. The skills gained in their lives allowed them to become keener observers. “May we be honest? Actually nothing leaves us speechless,” they said. “We were born in the perfect time. We saw the evolution of lots of different things, we lived the times of discos and then rock, we had a big family, we enjoyed the impactful aesthetics of the 70s, 80s, the 90s. Now there’s a new generation, new technologies and that’s why we like older movies to get more excited with today's modern gimmicks. We liked the movie 'Judy' with Oscar winner Renée Zellweger about Garland’s life. We knew her story, but we didn’t really know about the pain. You know, thanks to Hollywood now we know. The knowledge is now at your fingertip and you can never have enough about it. Your brain can store so much even if we are bombarded with information.” 

 

“Well my twin brother is more like that,” said Dean about Dan. “He wakes up and sees what’s going on. I’m a little bit old fashioned even if I’m aware of everything, obviously. This new world is like a weapon: you can be easily addicted to the new devices, people can’t live without them and they could not even have dinner conversations because of the phones. We must handle all this with care.” 

The secret formula of their mindset rejuvenating elixir is becoming clearer and clearer: they simply enhance their knowledge from past and present and use modern tools the world now offers. “The digital revolution is like a bomb and it needs care and responsibility,” they continued. “It could turn a person in a star overnight and it might be dangerous. On the other hand, it’s undeniable that it’s also helpful and enlightening. It’s widening our visions about different matters and, most importantly, it could remind young generations what happened in the past and help people to not forget events of our recent history. It’s constant schooling. Also never forget that our brains are like machines. You’ve got to keep them oiled.” The chat with the designers delivers a sense of positivity – their optimistic point of view is real even though, of course, it includes the knowledge of the processes and responsibility of dealing with a global brand like Dsquared2. They are very focused on the digital world and conscious of the huge audience with different mentalities out there. “It’s a fantastic innovation, but you must be educated to use it properly. It keeps you on your toes every single time you approach it and push you to think twice about what is appropriate or not,” they pointed out. “If you want to say something, try to make a reference or celebrate a culture you always have to be aware and well informed. It’s hard, but it’s the only way to be precise.” 

Almost immediately, the great debate about cultural appropriations popped up and their attitude showed how confident they are on the limits you can push. On the other hand, they are constantly under the scrutiny of a world that is too obsessed in finding the wrong references ineverything, that enjoys creating a panic that kills inspirations and flattens today’s fashion, an industry that cares more aboutcommunication than creativity. “We see future communication to be more channelled and focused. Everybody wants to be the same, so you must adopt different languages to make feel people different. Today’s youth it’s very different as well, you can’t speak with them with just one voice. They have everything their fingertips so there’s no desire anymore. We personally don’t have this lack because we are older but we feel bad for the kids who don’t have it. This will impact their way of growing as they think that everything is easy to get. That's why most of them don't want to do anything, but they just want to be somebody right away,” they explained. 

 

“We can’t pretend to have the same feelings of a teenager but considering modern society, we are fortunate to be born in this era because we have got all. Thinking that everything is a touch away, it leaves no room for passion or waiting. When we were young during Christmas time we ran home from school because we wanted to see 'Rudolph' cartoon on TV, that was a real desire. Now everything is easy to get so there’s no hoping or waiting or anticipation anymore,” they continued. But, in regards to new generations, how do they actually feel about the overload of pretend-talent? “Talent is a given gift by God. You have or you don’t have it. It's the same for taste,” they stated. “It’s rare, like any good thing. Unfortunately or fortunately taste is in the eye of the beholder. We think that if we could bet something, there’s more bad taste than good taste around. But do you know what? There’s space for everybody. They didn’t make it easy for us, you know, but we wouldn’t throw the same at somebody else, we are fine as we are still eating and doing what we like.” 

It also seems that the younger generations have completely lost the pleasure of dressing up; sportswear has become an easy passe-partout erasing the rules of men’s style. “When we started and still today we are our own customer. If you do anything that comes from the heart and it’s real, honest and true it works. When we started we didn’t have tailored suit as we didn’t need it because 25 years ago we weren’t going to the Oscars,” explained the twin designers. “We were denim-y and casual-y and all those things that we still are. But then you just expand your wardrobe and move on to what your new needs are. That’s why we went into tailoring. I don’t like to necessarily think what you would like to wear tomorrow, we’re still young in mind and if you are surrounded with fresh blood it’s inevitable that you are influenced by what they are liking or amusing, it’s a community thing.” 

 

So, if that's the case, how can they explain to a 20-year-old man that a suit is just as cool as a sweater? “We think it comes from within. If you don’t feel comfortable in something you don't need to go in that way. We remember being young and feeling uncomfortable with some clothes, so we put on boots and jacket to feel smart. Dressing up it’s not feeling like wearing a costume which doesn’t belong to you. That’s why we do a lot of washes on pants, so they have a soul and looks more familiar,” they explained. “Even for me with the hats,” Deancontinued. “Some people wear them and feel comfortable. If I put it on I feel weird. Anyway, we think that technology applied to a modern way of constructing could be a way to make the boys understand better the pleasure of a suit. Lighten it and make it softer abandoning the old heavy and stiff interface. The execution is a modern way, but still classic and elegant.” Once again, step after step, experience and new challenges, past and future keep cohabiting. This attitude led the two Canadian designers through many decades whilst keeping their DNA unchanged and ready to face the upcoming years – something that sounds more and more defying.

Photo credits: ALIKHAN Photography

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