After the late American artist and pinstriped Kenny Howard, a.k.a. “Von Dutch,” of the Kustom Culture movement, came the moniker “Von Dutch,” an American global fashion company. Upon Howard’s passing in 1992, his daughters granted Ed Boswell permission to use the Von Dutch in the manufacture of his products. Mike Cassell and Bobby Vaughn purchased the trademark rights in 2000.
Christian Audigier, a French fashion designer, was instrumental in the brand’s early 2000s success. Von Dutch was bought by Groupe Royer S.A. In 2009, via its subsidiary, Royer brands International S.a.r.l., in Luxembourg.
Celebrities such as Paris Hilton, Whitney Houston, Madonna, Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Jay-Z, Ashton Kutcher, and Eric Church have all worn the apparel line.
In addition to being a motorcycle mechanic and artist, Kenneth Howard was also a pin striper, metal fabricator, knife maker and gunsmith. After Howard’s death, his daughters, Lisa and Lorna were the ones who sparked the idea for the clothing business. As a result of Howard’s reputation as “as obstinate as a Dutchman,” his family decided to give him the artistic moniker “Von Dutch.”
Howard was a vehicle and motorbike enthusiast. Additionally, he was a consultant for a number of historical films, and designed special effects for Hollywood productions. In 1955, during the 1955 Motorama, he was able to stripe a 1927 Studebaker for ten days, which made him famous. To this day, Howard is regarded as the originator of current pin-striping techniques.
He was notably uninterested in intellectual property rights, characterizing them as an “ego trip.”
Steve Kafka, a fellow pinstripe, paid $5,000 for the Von Dutch moniker.
Howard passed away in 1992 as a consequence of alcoholism-related liver disease.
Beginning Of The Company
After acquiring the rights to the Von Dutch moniker from Howard’s children, art collector Ed Boswell started selling Von Dutch patches at Los Angeles art events in the early 1990s. A trade fair encounter with former drug dealer Michael Cassel and professional surfer Bobby Vaughn led to the creation of a clothing brand based on garage-themed jeans and workwear.
A few years after buying the firm out, Cassel and Vaughn appointed Tonny Sorensen as CEO and investor. In 2002, Sorensen enlisted Christian Audigier’s services as a brand designer. An inspiration for Audigier’s trucker hat was Marlon Brando’s motorbike helmet from The Wild One.
The corporation was at its peak in the early 2000s. A number of celebrities were seen sporting Von Dutch clothing, including jackets, T-shirts, and trucker caps. Von Dutch’s success was aided greatly by Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake. In 2002, Audigier flew to Los Angeles to meet Britney Spears and persuaded her to wear the brand. As soon as they split became public knowledge, Spears and Timberlake were shown on the cover of People sporting Von Dutch trucker caps.
As a result of the publicity, the brand was able to start selling.
Also spotted sporting the $100 trucker hat were Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan as well as Ashton Kutcher and Beyonce. In the early 2000s, Kutcher was often seen in Von Dutch on episodes of Punk’d. The popularity of Von Dutch peaked in 2003, when the company sold over $33 million in merchandise.
Tumult In The Background
In 2002, Srensen dismissed Vaughn and became sole owner. He also started using Audigier instead of Cassel as a designer. In an attempt to frighten Srensen into surrendering his part in the firm, Cassel recruited Pablo Escobar’s grandson to threaten him. Sorensen rejected the offer. While this was going on, Vaughn sought to bully Cassel into selling his interests in the firm, threatening to call the police if he did not comply.
The shooting death of Mark Rivas, a boyhood friend of Vaughn’s, who he said assaulted him with a shattered bottle, led to his arrest in February 2005 on charges of first-degree murder. In 2006, he was acquitted.
Due to difficulties like as trademark saturation and counterfeiting, Von Dutch started to rapidly decrease in the late 2000s. According to a letter written by Howard in 1992, which Boswell released to the public in May 2004, the late artist made a number of racist and antisemitic statements and expressed sympathy for Nazi Germany. Since no one else was involved, this letter ruined the company’s remaining popularity; by 2004, it had been dubbed “Von Douche” by the fashion press. In 2007, Audigier resigned from the firm. Groupe Royer, a French footwear business, purchased the brand from Sorenson in 2009.
When Kylie Jenner was seen sporting the iconic trucker hat, coats, and two-piece sets, Von Dutch made a return.Rappers such as Travis Scott, Saweetie, and Megan Thee Stallion were quickly seen sporting Von Dutch gear on Instagram, and the firm worked with Young Thug in 2021 to produce a streetwear collection.
In 2019, Von Dutch recruited Ed Goldman as its general manager. Emma Chamberlain and Addison Rae, two of the most well-known Internet personalities, also wore Von Dutch.