NEW YORK — It’s been 20 years since twin brothers Dan and Dean Caten launched their first men’s wear collection. And now — with two decades of experience and $228.6 million in sales under their belts — it’s time for the retail rollout to begin in earnest.
In the past few months alone, their company, Dsquared2, has made a splash in the American market, opening three stores in Los Angeles, New York City and Miami. A London flagship — the company’s largest at more than 8,000 square feet — opened two weeks ago in Mayfair.
Dsquared2 operates 35 stores around the world in spots as diverse as Abu Dubai, Paris, Hong Kong and Milan. Ten are directly owned and the remainder are franchised or operated with partners. The plan for the future is ambitious, they revealed, with the intent to roll out 10 stores a year for the next five years.
“It’s the right moment to do this,” said Dan Caten, sitting in one of the custom-designed chairs at the Dsquared2 store in SoHo, where he and his brother would be hosting an opening cocktail party Monday night. “It took us a while. We practiced and made mistakes in our own water. But the company is strong, we have the right visual and merchandising teams and we’re ready.”
In New York, the brand is also carried at Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman, and while the business with these retail partners is good, the Catens can make a more-complete statement in their own environment. “This is our full message,” Dean Caten said.
The 6,467-square-foot SoHo unit has separate areas for the men’s runway collection, tailored clothing, sportswear and women’s wear and the assortment ranges from a hot pink evening jacket and a subdued gray suit to a feathered skirt for women. Accessories and fragrance are also offered.
Denim, a hallmark of the brand, continues to be a strong seller, they said, along with leather jackets and tuxedos and suits. Accessories are also gaining in importance, particularly women’s bags. Fragrance and eyewear are key growth opportunities, they said, noting a third fragrance will launch in October. Children’s wear, which is not carried in the SoHo store, is also popular.
The three cities chosen for the first U.S. stores are the top three e-commerce markets for the Dsquared2 brand, they said, with Los Angeles number one, followed by Miami and New York. Retail, which represents 30 percent of the overall business, is currently stronger than wholesale and is “a positive for us,” Dan Caten said.
The store design of the New York unit is new and is similar to that found in L.A. and London. It is reminiscent of the twins’ Canadian roots with black antler chandeliers, woodland scenes in the dressing rooms, and staircases and floors meant to resemble a forest trail. These outdoorsy elements are juxtaposed with sleek black surfaces, brass fixtures and velvet or leather chairs. Dan Caten called the design “more refined” and less “like a Canadian lumberyard.” “But it’s still Canada-ish,” his brother added, “just more elegant.”
Dean Caten said the company had been looking for spaces in New York for years and SoHo was the neighborhood that was at the top of the list. “We’re downtown boys,” Dan Caten said.
The Catens are headquartered in Europe and don’t visit the U.S. market very often, making this trip a whirlwind for them, with visits to all three of the stores on their agenda. “This is our twin ambition tour,” they said with a laugh.
So in addition to adding retail, what’s in the cards for the next 20 years?
The brothers recently opened a restaurant on the roof of their Milan headquarters and are building a guest house next door. And working on the furniture for the stores has also opened up another possible avenue for expansion.
“We’re a young company with a good, solid background,” Dan Caten said. “We have a base and we’ve built a foundation, but there’s still lots to come.”