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May 15, 2011

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Denim design duo

Twin-brother designers Dean and Dan Caten tend to label themselves as "born in Canada, living in London, made in Italy."

Born in Willowdale, Ontario, they are the youngest of nine children. Their father was originally from Italy, where the brothers later founded their own high-end fashion label DSquared.

When they are not at work in their Italian headquarters, they live together in an apartment in London where "people speak English and watch TV."

DSquared designs, especially their luxury denim products, are loved and worn by celebrities including Madonna, Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake and Ricky Martin.

The twins are also known for giving extravagant, theatrical runway shows and they are always excited to have a singing star on the catwalk. A menswear show once ended with Christina Aguilera in a leather dress, while a 2007 women's show featured Rihanna entering the stage in a muscle car.

"Being born as twins is very natural for us to work together," Dean said. "We're like our own best friends. We are always there for each other, and we had the most fun together."

They visited Shanghai for the first time recently for the opening of DSquared's first Shanghai store in Pudong's IFC Mall. Shanghai Daily was curious to find out what it is like for them to always work and live together.

Q: What has been the longest time you were apart from each other?

Dean: Six months - when we were 15. We were "forced" to be apart from each other by our parents because they wanted to make us be independent. That's when the creepiest story came out. One night, I was crying for no reason and I called Dan. There was a five-hour time zone difference. His phone was busy because he was calling me! Dan: I was calling him because I knew something was wrong. We are two individual people, but we bond very well and we are very strong together. We are like a little force ready to take on the world and our competitors.

Q: Can you describe a typical working day?

Dan: We work together in a small studio office. We always do things together.

Q: Do you always agree with each other? Have you ever had a big fight?

Dan: Only when we were kids, we used to fight for clothes and shoes. Dean's the older one, so he always got what he wanted. Dean: We are so familiar with each other and we know exactly how to piss the other one off - so we'd avoid that. When we are mad with each other, the whole day is gone. So we can't get mad at each other.

Q: In career decisions such as moving back from New York to Canada, moving to Milan, relocating to London - do you often make decisions together or does one make the decision first and the other follow?

Dan: We decide together, really.

Q: Why is the focus on denim products?

Dean: We were prohibited from wearing denim to school when we were young because in our father's head, denim was for poor people. And that was in the 1970s - can you imagine? Dan: We couldn't have it (denim) back then. But now I think we're making the best. Denim is normally a cheaper thing. However, what we do is "designer denim." Our denim products only get better with time.

Q: Why did you choose Sun Feifei as your campaign model this spring/summer? Is it a sign that you want to further expand the brand in the Asian market?

Dan: She's just a beautiful girl. We don't do anything political, or study too much where we are. Dean: I think she is very modern and has this exotic look. She looks so cute and androgynous at the same time.

Q: And how do you like your first visit to China?

Dan: Loving it. We're having a great time. Shanghai is such an amazing, overwhelming city. It's very "ahead." It seems like what's the world is going to be like in 20 years.


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