Crooks & Castles – Cocaine & Caviar
American brand Crooks & Castles have quickly become known as the premium street clothing outfit of the 21st century, having made huge progress since their creation in 2002.
Creators Dennis Calvero and Robert Panlilio are the two men who decided to express their personality through a clothing label, who say the style of their products reflect the style they have grown up admiring. The pair, born and raised in Los Angeles around the 1980’s and 90’s have been inspired by the idea that “behind every castle there lies a crook“.
The theory is; behind every success story there is a sinister underbelly and a crooked motive. Rather cynical you might think, but this sentiment clearly captured the two men’s imaginations and gave us the brand we have today.
Crooks & Castle products are often seen as a reflection of the late 20th century west-coast gang scene, coinciding with the owner’s youth in L.A when the culture was rife. In their eyes “Crooks” are the criminals, thieves and hustlers of society who use their dishonest ways to become rich and build “Castles”. Cocaine & Caviar is seen as a representation of poorer classes pedalling drugs and earning a luxury life of delicacies- such as caviar- in this crooked society, catching the interest of dreamers who hope for a rise from rags to riches as the old cliché goes.
The two men confess that they have always found the bad guys to be cooler when it comes to movies, music, cartoons and general villains in popular culture- all of which translates into their creative vision today. Gangster culture was similarly influential on music in the by-gone West-Coast eras and many emerging hip-hop artists of the time cited their background in lyrics and created gang-style rivalries with other stars. Current rappers such as Jay Z, Kanye West and Kendrick Lamar take influence from these generations too and perhaps this is what attracts these celebrities to wear the Crooks & Castles products- who also have had the likes of Justin Bieber pictured in their clothing.
Below (left): Justin Bieber wearing Crooks & Castles clothing. (Right) get the look at Mainline Menswear.
It is this sort of exposure to the brand which has created such a strong public image and a fast-growing reputation. The aesthetic is characterized by bold slogan t-shirts, prints, heavy branding and experimental use of colour; this shows an element of recognition to what is now considered the retro west-coast style.
This collection has become particularly memorable to the extent it is almost as recognizable as the brand itself, but it has been both controversial and successful in equal measure because products emblazoned with the name Cocaine and Caviar are deemed by some to be a glamorisation of drug use. The in-your-face slogan is printed plainly onto garments such as caps, t-shirts, hoodies and sweatshirts and has become the best selling range from the C&C collection, also a design which countless others have tried to emulate.
Summer’s collection from C&C follows the precedent set in previous years of becoming broader each year and this time it is perhaps characterized by an “overprint” trend on graphic t-shirts which is basically an all-over design to continue their strong work so far on prints.
Below: 2014 is all about the overprint for Crooks & Castle. See here!
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