This won’t be Dan Caten’s first visit to Las Vegas, but it will certainly be his busiest. Caten and his brother Dean are the minds behind the edgy fashion brand DSquared2, which opened in The Shops at Crystals in February. This week, they celebrate an invite-only opening soirée with friend and singer Ricky Martin, whose new show will feature the designs of the Canadian duo. Dan spoke exclusively to Vegas Seven about their store, Ricky and the overall state of retail.
Why did you choose Las Vegas for a flagship boutique, and what was the overall approach to the design?
Over the last three years, we’ve been trying to make the push into America, and it was another important city to conquer. We also happen to be doing a collaboration in Vegas with Ricky Martin.
Tell me about the costumes for Ricky Martin’s show at Park Theater.
It’s the first time we’ve done an entire show. Normally when we’ve done concerts and tours, we’ve done the opening scene or [one] scene. It’s been a lot of work. There are three major parts, and there are about four changes per part. There are eight male dancers, eight female dancers and Ricky. It’s very sparkly, lamé, gold and black. Very Vegas and cute—slash Elvis-y, slash Ricky-ish, slash showy. Ricky is always glamorous and a gentleman.
Is it fun to do costumes versus creating a collection?
It’s a different job. It gets you out of your daily routine. We’ve done it before, so we know how dancers are and how they need to move. When we did the first fitting, the dancers [said] “this is so great, we can move in them and dance in them.” It’s fun doing those things, and Ricky is a great guy and we have had a relationship with him for a long time. We happen to be opening our doors when the [show’s] opening, so it’s weird how things fall into place.
There is a lot of concern about the state of retail stores versus online shopping. Many stores are closing to focus more on their online sales. What is the key to sustaining success with a store?
Stores are your window to the world. It’s definitely important, especially for us in trying to break into the U.S. market. It’s a window, a business card for someone who, maybe doesn’t know you and also for someone who thinks your brand is one thing and doesn’t really know your product. [They] come into the store and for the first time and say, “Oh, you do suits and tuxedos?” Some people think we just do jeans and T-shirts.
The business of fashion and the demand for so many variations on collections has led to designer burnout and certainly instability. What keeps you and your brother motivated, and how do you handle the demands of the industry?
I think we take steady, firm steps. Our brand is more than 20 years old. A lot of people don’t know that. We never [had] this huge peak, and I think that’s good. We’ve been a steady, strong growing brand. We just get better as designers and the products gets better. When we were strong enough and confident enough, that’s when we started opening stores. You can’t open a store and not run it well. So we build our foundation, build our structure, and have a solid business and make solid steps. We are still at a growth, where a lot of people aren’t.
Follow the brothers on Instagram: @dsquared2.