DEAN, DAN, DNA. Part I (menswear)

“It is better to be hated for what you are than loved for what you are not“. Andre Gide

Although not always possible beyond reasonable doubt, it is often relatively easy to spot a Dsquared2 piece or outfit. But how? It is because the brand uses a series of codes, quirks, that make it recognisable as an entity. In other words it has its own DNA.

In this post we have tried to deconstruct the elements that constitute the Dsquared2 identity. Note that we will focus on menswear, without excluding a similar post related to women ready to wear later.

The Caten twins have said themselves that the Dsquared2 style was “accidental and personal”; another time they spoke of “sportswear meets the catwalk”. We decided to look even closer by putting the brand’s DNA under the microscope. Here we go, by alphabetical order.

                                                   The D2 DNA

-Back tab on pants: you will notice that on jeans, as on the majority of pants, including tuxedo pants, there is a small tab sticking out upwards in the middle of the back. This is a typical signature detail, and one that we also find on most swimwear and boxer shorts.


Bibs: borrowed from formal dress shirts, they appear on casual shirts too, as well as on jackets or t-shirts.

-Bling: flashy doesn’t scare off the twins. Their experience as drags years ago in Milan has left its mark. Gold, neon, leopard prints, necklaces, chains, broches, Swarowsky…and all in the same pot. Often, “More is more” at D2.

-Bright colours: some collections might use ‘black, white and (blue) jeans’ a lot, yet every year, especially in the summer, the brand proposes a range of items in the brightest shades of yellow, red, pink, green, orange… often with contrasting prints.

Canada: having grown up in Toronto, the twins never forgot their native country. From their first collection ‘Homesick Canada’ to the 20 years anniversary ‘ICON’ collection, from references to their national sport in the ‘Hockey horror Dsquared show’ to the hommage to first nation peoples in the infamous #Dsquaw show, from the maple leaf on t-shirts, underwear, sneakers…to the use of real fur, from the prints about cabins, logs, the wild, to lumberjack checked shirts…the list goes on and on.

-Cryptic prints: the prints we just mentionned range from the classic logo to unfathomable references that probably only the twins can understand. Why ‘Hues of Hockney’? What is ‘marchetting’?

Cult of personality: not uncommon, a massive ‘Dean’, or a ‘Dan’, or a ‘Dean and Dan’ or a ‘Caten’s’, a ‘Twins’… or their own faces, sometimes morphed into some famous person’s photo, like  Dean into Marilyn (who became ‘Marildean’, see “play on words” below).


Denim: because when they grew up, Dean and Dan were not allowed to wear jeans at home, they made up for this frustration later in life by wearing and producing a wide range of denim items, in particular their iconic jeans, often distressed, torn, bleached…with the aforementionned red tab. To our knowledge D2 is the only brand that produces various cuts (‘Clement’, ‘Cool guy’, ‘Kenny twist’…) of the same wash (by wash we mean colour, place and size of various holes, stains…). Note that the brothers worked at Diesel before founding their own label. Who influenced whom? Hard to tell.

-Distressed style: full of holes, speckled, stained, ripped…the distressed style is not reserved to jeans, but t-shirts, sweatshirts, shirts, even boxer shorts are subject to intentional  battering.

-Formalwear mixed with streetwear: copied by many since, Dsquared2 is still the best at that. Tuxedo jackets worn with jeans, even with sweatpants, are a coined style which made us fall for the brand.


High gorge: The gorge is this break in the lapel of a suit jacket. The higher it is placed, the taller the wearer will appear. this is a similar trick as the “short jackets” one explained further down. Just compare a D2 suit with any classic Italian tailoring and you will really see the difference.


Higher heels: mens shoes, whether formal or streetwear, tend to have higher heels than average, from 3 to 5cm, which is an advantage for the non-giants.

-Hybrid pieces: is this a bomber? Or a leather jacket? Or a blazer? Or a cardigan? Well, it’s a bit of all the above really. D2 key pieces often combine sleeves from a type of jacket, collar from another, pockets from something entirely different…Some aficionados go crazy for these. Personally I don’t as I would get sick of a piece quite quickly, which doesn’t happen for more classic items, but I do admit that they look good on the runway, or on my friend Frederic.


Layering: think Joey Tribbiani in friends: “Could I BE wearing any more clothes?”. That’s often what a DSQ runway show looks like.


Leather: not exclusive to D2, but it is a fabric used in nearly every collection for  jackets and pants. The biker style is always an option at D2.


Logos:  very appealing to disadvantaged urban youths in quest of social status, the ‘brand’ is everywhere. Logo here, logo there…To the untrained eye it makes little difference whether your t-shirt says Dsquared2 or Jack&Jones. To us, for some insane reason, it does.


Matching what can not be matched: who else can blend oppressor and oppressed like 19th century aristocracy and first nation peoples? Who else could make trousers that include the Y front of men’s briefs? Who would have thought of having skinheads wear disco boots?…

Play on words: these are the kind kids come up with. Just one example which will illustrate the point. In the Pop art collection, Andy Wharrol and J.M. Basquiat became Andean and Dansquiat. Far fetched to say the least, but classic Caten twins humour.


-Political incorrectness: not many would get away with a ‘homeless collection’, an ‘asylum’ collection (which included the ‘asylum sneakers’, which is as offensive but to another group)…Runway models smoking cigarettes…Sometimes they don’t get away with it and we know that the brothers have had to apologise in the past (e.g the already mentionned Dsquaw hashtag).

Homeless collection

-Pre-tied bow-ties: blasphemy for the purists, Dean and Dan have made laziness cool. Personally I prefer the imperfection of the self-tied items, and I love the ceremonial of tying one’s papillon, but as the Southern Spaniards say:  “hay gente pa’ to‘”…(there is people for everything, phrase uttered by the colourful torero Fernando “El Gallo” a century ago).


-Red tab: not a D2 invention, but probably (as we discussed in a previous post about trademarks) a Levi’s one, however the Caten brothers strategically changed its position, giving it a whole new identity, by moving it from the back right pocket to the fly of the jeans. Mirroring the style on denim shirts and jackets, the same tab was moved from the left breast pocket to the hem, beside the buttons.


Sex: there is no lack of sexual elements in D2 clothes. First of all because the clothes themselves are often sexy. Of course this is a subjective concept: a Milanese woman and a New-York ‘bear’ will have different opinions of what sexy means, but the Caten twins actually manage to provide for all tastes in that regard. Secondly because some of the details on the clothes can have a sexual connotation. The aforementionned red tab on my crotch being an example, the visible private bits of the hare (yes it is a hare!) on the ‘horny rabbit’ t-shirt being another one.


Skinny ties: black, with a tiny symbol linked to the collection, or the classic maple leaf.

Short jackets: Dean and Dan are quite short…and so is the author of these lines. Smaller men have a few tricks to appear taller, or at least to minimise the impact of their clothes on the perceived height. Shortening the jacket is one such trick. D2 suits, blazers, down jackets, duffle coats, pea coats…are often extremely short, to the point of leaving the whole ass area uncovered (and we’re back to ‘sex’ as previously discussed).


-Street style: Sneakers, jeans, bare chested youths, improvised and unexpected layering, near DIY jewlery…D2 shows at times are closer to college kids hanging out than to typical Milan runways.

Surf collection

Tailoring: with a capsule collection of nearly a dozen styles, the twins have proven to be exceptionally good at fine suits. There is one for every bodily shape, one for every season, one for every latitude. And with working cuffs!

Tuxedos: not just an extension of the above, as über-cool odd dinner jackets were commonplace even before the suit collection was launched. Still there, in a range of interesting variations in terms of lapel coverings, colours and fabrics, alongside now the classic full evening suits named Beverley hills, Tokyo, London, Napoli…

Urban tribes: from mods to rockers, punks and skins, preppies and glam boys…nearly every style has been explored, sometimes even on several occasions.

Mod inspired outfit


That’s it folks. If you’ve noticed any recurring elements of the D2 DNA that we forgot to mention…let us know!


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