Hubert Burda Media

The prowess of the Caten brothers

Dean and Dan Caten deliver a one-two punch as Dsquared2 diversifies beyond fashion to build a veritable lifestyle empire.

It doesn’t take long to figure out how to distinguish Dean from Dan Caten.

“A couple of kilos,” quips Dan, who often takes the lead in conversation. “And a cigarette,” drawls Dean, who is more prone to wisecracks. I spot another visual cue: Dan, the “responsible” twin (as younger brother Dean often points out) is suited up with a tie, while Dean’s open shirt is an unconscious expression of his laidback, carefree attitude.

The Toronto-born, Milan-based identical twins are in town for a whirlwind 16-hour visit, having arrived this morning at 8:30am. In a few hours, they are due at a dinner with VIP guests at Iggy’s before jetting off to Seoul immediately after.

But for now, they are busy renewing relations with members of the press at the Dsquared2 boutique at ION Orchard where they are showcasing their Spring/Summer 2017 menswear and womenswear collections that were specially flown in for the occasion. (This season is the last time the men’s and women’s collections are shown separately. Both Autumn/Winter 2017 collections are merged at Men’s Fashion Week in Milan.)

The new boutique occupies a far larger floor space of 242sq-m, compared to the previous 173-sq-m unit located a few doors down. A nod to the twins’ Canadian heritage, elements of nature is still integral to the new boutique design which swaps out the pine wood of before for darker Okumè wood and black marble.

Besides menswear and womenswear, the boutique  offers the full Dsquared2 experience, from casual pieces to eveningwear and accessories such as eyewear, as well as a dedicated area for the duo’s Italian-crafted bags and shoes.

Powered by their business savvy and celebrity dressings, the twins have built an empire that celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2015 with a reported annual turnover of €210 million — a major achievement considering they only lasted one semester at the illustrious Parsons School of Design. But as Dean is quick to add: “We also had six years of hands-on experience working in a company in Canada.”

Their flamboyant collections may be mad mash-ups that are both sexy and fun, but the brothers credit a sense of down-to-earth practicality for their success. “Do something that you like. Believe in what you do. We are our own customers; we were doing things that we wanted and needed,” Dean explains.

Designing items for their small frames had a by-effect — the fit of their clothes suited the Asian market, allowing the duo to gain a strong foothold in the region.

This penchant for designing with themselves in mind also led to the capsule ski collection launched last year after the brothers found difficulty in finding stylish snowboarding attire in their sizes. “Why are we buying somebody else’s clothes?” Dean wondered. “We had a lot of discussions with our instructors about what they lack,” Dan reveals. Like their runway collections that never stray from signature denims, Dsquared2’s ski wear enhances the stretch fabric with a protective waterproof interior, so you can wear jeans on the slopes. 

Even their Ceresio 7 Pools & Restaurant in Milan will soon introduce gym and spa facilities. “Everything that we like and we need…” Dean starts to say.

“Dsquared2 is becoming a lifestyle. Who knows? Further down the road, we might just have a mini boutique hotel,” adds Dan.