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Undrcrwn X Mos Def (Dustin Canalin)

Date: April 06 2009

By: Sneaker Freaker

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Street wear brands come and go, but in these tough times only the strong survive. Thanks to the creative genius of director Dustin Canalin who saw a void in the street/sport market, UNDRCRWN was born to deliver apparel that catered to a wide demographic. Dustin has forged close relationships within hip hop circles, having worked with Damani, Asher Roth and most recently Mos Def. We wanted to find out more about his collection with the ‘Boogie Man’ and fortunately for us, Canalin was willing to spill the beans as well as show off pics of the unreleased Mos Def x adidas joints!

Give us a bit of background into the man that is Dustin Canalin
I grew up in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, a time when fashion and hip hop culture were at the beginning stages of the industry I work in today. As long as I can remember art has been one of my biggest influences, whether it was a cool magazine layout, logos, fine art or graffiti. I also used to draw caricatures in high school and customize people’s names on backpacks and sneakers. It wasn’t until I went to Art School where I learned the true craft of design.

When did you first get a taste for designing?

My first experience in design was as a consumer. My love for fashion, sports and sneakers are my inspiration. I’ve always liked the look and aesthetic of high fashion coupled with the comfort of sneakers and sweatpants. My goal as a designer has always been to create elegance in comfortable clothing.

Was there one style or person that has remained a guiding influence in your designs today?
I tend to look back on what has affected me emotionally. In my youth I was heavily influenced by Michael Jordan, Nike and music. Since then, I have been able to view the evolution of many trends and the ways they’ve transformed into cultural icons. The goal of my designs is to pay homage to the past and look towards the future with a fresh take on timeless pieces.

Tell us about being creative director of UNDRCRWN?
I started UNDRCRWN in 2005 because I felt the need for a lifestyle brand that resonated with sports. In the past, sports fashion was too heavily based in technology. Either the fashion component was overlooked in light of performance enhancements, or it was too heavily rooted in fashion and lost its feeling of sports heritage. UNDRCRWN bridges the interests of consumers who are looking for a unique point of view on sports fashion. Our style caters to people who grew up appreciating the style and flavor of sports apparel mixed with a fashion sensibility.

You've just launched your collection for Mos Def… how does that work cohesively; an artist, a designer and a brand? 
Mos Def was spotted wearing UNDRCRWN product multiple times in our first year. He eventually contacted us and we discussed designing a collection. We talked all night and the next day I presented my sketches. The entire design process, from conception to creation, took about 24 hours. We share many of the same values when it comes to fashion. We both wanted to keep it consistent with the classic UNDRCRWN look and feel, but we also wanted to inject Mos’ character and personality into each garment. We worked together on customizing certain elements so that it truly represented him. Mos appreciated being part of the process and seeing the idea come to life.

The designs are heavily based on the paisley bandana prints of Dead Prez’ RBG (Revolutionary but Gangsta) Album cover...
The art resonates with him a lot, what we did was personalize it. Inside the print are many small/hidden references that Mos Def actually sketched. I took his drawings and built them into a brand new print. What you see mimics the RBG album cover, but it has more of Mos’ personality built into it. This is a true collaborative effort. After hanging out with Mos for a few days I was able to understand what he wanted to portray through a clothing line. I played ‘curator’ to who Mos is as an artist and what he wanted to see out of the UNDRCRWN collection. He is a wonderful artist with strong beliefs, and I just wanted to make sure that his ideas were never watered down.

What were your final feelings with the outcome?
I’m used to working on garment production and design a year in advance. On the other hand, it was hard for Mos to understand that the product would not be available to the public for another 11 months after I initially presented it. In the end everyone was happy with the outcome and we created two wonderful product ranges.

There were rumours that there would be an adidas coming out to coincide with the launch – what happened?
Don’t believe the hype! I’m just kidding! We did collaborate with adidas on a shoe (which Mos has been wearing for almost a year at this point). We were all very excited about it, but for some reason the sneakers never went into production. We are in the process of working on additional footwear collaborations with Mos, which adidas will hopefully release in the future.

Where can peeps pick up the collection from, and when will the next installment be dropping?
The Mos Def by Dustin Canalin collection can be purchased on UNDRCRWN.com & Karmaloop.com. The 2nd delivery of the collection, which will consist of a full cut & sew range, will drop late spring.

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