Browse all

Is Von Dutch making a comeback?

From Justin Timberlake and Paris Hilton to Kylie Jenner and Travis Scott everyone has worn it

Is Von Dutch making a comeback? From Justin Timberlake and Paris Hilton to Kylie Jenner and Travis Scott everyone has worn it

"Use any of my things, whatever you want. Nothing is original. It's all in the subconscious, you just need to touch something or just think of it sometimes we've already created something ... copyright and patents are mostly a trip of the ego."

These are the words of Kenny Howard, aka Von Dutch, pinstriper and founding father of the Kustom Kulture - the US subculture born in the 50s which consists in customizing cars and motorcycles through painting or tuning.
Kenny died in 1992 and at his death, his daughters chose to sell the name Von Dutch to Michael Cassel and Robert Vaughn who in 1999 founded the clothing company that bears his nickname. The popularity and success of the brand are the results of the creativity and work of Christian Audigier and Don "Ed" Hardy: the first is the French fashion designer who left the company in 2004, the latter one of the most famous tattoo artists in the world.

In the early 2000s the brand was known exclusively in the motorcyclist scene, given the inspiration, but in 2003 came the global explosion. 

It all started thanks to the greatest Hollywood stars who fell in love, in the true sense of the word, with those trucker caps: they were worn by Britney Spears before her infamous breakdown; Nicole Richie and Tara Reid were wearing them, Paris Hilton and her sister showed off anything branded Von Dutch; Ashton Kutcher practically lived with a Von Dutch hat on his head; Justin Timberlake on the court with NBA cuff and Von Dutch cap; and again Dennis Rodman, Gwen Stefani, Halle Berry and even Madonna often wore one.

We're talking about the American showbiz of those years and the resonance box was huge, all over the world. Even the most important rap artists fell for the trend; Jay Z, for example, has greatly influenced the expansion of this brand in the music industry.

A story that could perfectly reflect that of Von Dutch is the rise and lightning fall of B2K: the boy band released their first single in 2001, in 2002 the first album "B2K" was released, and in the same year they also published the second and last record that thanks to the first single extracted took the number one spot in the global charts. After the publication of a Christmas album in 2003, they announced their retirement; the 4 boys were "swamped" from head to toe in Von Dutch at every public event.
For Von Dutch, it went a bit like for B2K, after the huge wave of popularity between 2003 and 2005, they fell into oblivion without anyone caring, but there is a but.

In 2009, French group Royer bought the brand and in 2014 it started a relaunch work thanks to Olivier Mercier, CEO of Royal Brands International with a high-level joint venture. The intention was to position Von Dutch as an expression of the "Kustom Kulture" and therefore to reflect its original identity. The opening in 2017 of a flagship store in Los Angeles is undisputed proof. 

However, the beginning of the real rebirth took place in 2012 when, in a completely unexpected way, Kylie Jenner started a sort of "under track" campaign - but not even that much - for the resurrection of the brand. Disgraced in one of the worst moments for fashion ever, evidently the company attempted an "unofficial" turnaround; in fact there is no trace of a business agreement between Kylie and Von Dutch but it is very likely that behind the countless posts on her Instagram and the public outings wearing a garment of the American brand, there is a very precise desire to "start over". And who better than the reality star to boost the rebirth of the brand?

Jenner also involved her partner Travis Scott - probably the most important rapper of the scene along with A$AP Rocky right now - "convincing him" to wear a Von Dutch cap during the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards ceremony.
If you go looking for Von Dutch pictures on Kylie's Instagram profile, you won't find them. They have been deleted...

Almost immediately those caps have gone sold out everywhere and the trend has obviously arrived in Italy as well. Influential personalities such as Sfera EbbastaDark Polo Gang and Domenico Formichetti wear Von Dutch caps, now back to being a must-have apparently.

The other night I ran into Formichetti in a Milanese restaurant, he was wearing a hat, guess which one?