Crooks and Castles

Crooks and Castles

Longevity in streetwear is no more common than morality in rap, however, Crooks and Castles is a staple within its pool of ambitious peers by boasting an L.A. flagship store, a full line and multiple seasons of growth. Dennis Calvero, Crooks and Castles owner, can say his brand is a personal choice for Jay-Z and Kanye West – Calvero wants English action film superstar, Jason Statham, to wear Crooks and Castles, as Stratham is “edgier” – but he’s more interested in retailers that “can pay bills,” says Calvero.

Calvero believes Crooks and Castles’ flagship store is a marketing tool extension and way for business growth. Crooks and Castles’ L.A. flagship store finds itself on prime realty, “We are going to be on the same block as Fred Segal, a Bathing Ape, Marc Jacobs and Paul Smith,” says Calvero.

“It’s almost like the blogs are the apparel news for the streetwear enthusiasts, sneakers fiends and the cool kids.”

Format: In a previous interview, you say your philosophy is simply, “behind every castle there’s a crook.” In your opinion, who, currently, is the largest crook with the largest castle?
Calvero: Bill Gates. He built his own empire after ripping off Apple.

Format: Recently, communist China has attracted a lot of negative press for its exports: poisonous pet food, tainted seafood and lead paint on children’s toys. If relations between America and China were to halt, how would your industry, the street fashion industry, recover from its severed connection to cost-effective manufacturing?
Calvero: When we had another brand prior to Crooks, we were making everything in L.A., so we have resources here in California. The Crooks and Castles tees – one of our best selling items – are already made domestically.

Format: Several fashion designers are designing into summer 2009, now. How does Crooks & Castles project what will be fashionable several season in advance?
Calvero: We’re not quite on an action sports calendar where everything needs to be that far ahead, even though the design changes each season. Also, we stay true to our signature imagery and logos. From a brand standpoint, people identify us as a brand. We do shop and travel all over Asia and Europe, taking notice of what’s currently trending and try to forecast what is going to stick or what is going to last, then put our own twist on things.

Crooks and Castles

Format: Brand collaborations are go-crazy and that is fine, however, the practice is becoming commonplace. What characteristics does Crooks & Castles look for in the people or brands that it collaborates with?
Calvero: The streetwear community is a tight knit of people. Everyone seems to know one another. It’s more like picking people and brands that are cool and have the same values. Sometimes, we think it will be a good marketing move. One another hand, if there is a product that a company specializes in, for instance, Mitchell N Ness specialize in sportswear memorabilia, which is why we collaborated with them on our Letterman jacket. Or if there is an item that we don’t carry, but want to make then we will push to work on that, such as sunglasses with a sunglass company.

Format: Celebrities play a large role in brand recognition. If Crooks & Castles could choose any celebrity to floss its gear, what celebrity would Crooks & Castles choose and why?
Calvero: The right people have been supporting us without us having to target them. Jay-Z and Kanye West have had a major impact to our brand by rocking it. On a more crossover appeal, we would like English actor, Jason Statham. This would help create a mold for an edgier appeal.

Format: Crooks & Castles is worn by rappers and other rap-centric celebrities. Does Crooks & Castles get their product to these celebrities to wear or is that 100 per cent a stylist’s doing?
Calvero: It’s about 50 per cent. Many times a stylist will hit us up, but if we like the artist then we will flow them gear.

Crooks and Castles

Format: Recently, Crooks & Castles teamed up with Internet retailer, Karmaloop, and, basically, took over front page presence of Karmaloop. How did the Crooks & Castles and Karmaloop partnership materialize and why is it mutually beneficial?
Calvero: We wanted to test this and see how other online retailers reacted to some of our collection and having a wider online distribution.

Format: What qualities does Crooks & Castles look for in its storefront retailers?
Calvero: We look for stores that can pay bills.

Format: The Internet blog makes awareness of street fashion skyrocket, compared to the time when word of mouth or physically seeing the product, spread awareness. What are the pros and cons in street fashion being cataloged by third party blogs?
Calvero: The blogs are responsible for the popularity and the mainstream of streetwear and its culture. Since streetwear is the category that offers exclusive and limited product, the blogs and brands kind of work hand and hand. It’s almost like the blogs are the apparel news for the streetwear enthusiasts, sneakers fiends and the cool kids. It also saves paper!

Format: Does Crooks & Castles consider itself streetwear?
Calvero: Yeah, we do. We originally started out as a small streetwear brand and now what we’re trying to do is solidify Crooks as a brand. Regardless of the category, we just want to be a lifestyle brand.

Crooks and Castles

Format: Bootlegging and counterfeiting are an increasing problem for street fashion companies. How does Crooks & Castles protect itself from bootlegging and counterfeiting?
Calvero: Bootlegging and counterfeiting are an increasing problem for street fashion companies, we agree. We take certain precautions and have a lawyer. However, if brands like Louis Vuitton and Gucci can’t control them, how can we? It’s like Crooks stopping crooks.

Format: With the boom of street fashion companies herding to trade shows like MAGIC, is there opportunity to build relationships with retailers?
Calvero: Yes, that’s exactly what MAGIC is for.

Format: In December Crooks & Castles is opening a store in L.A.. How did the need for a Crooks & Castles’ storefront presence materialize?
Calvero: With the demand for the brand increasing more and more over the fast few seasons, we felt the timing was right to open a retail space. Harajuku, in Tokyo, have numerous brands that have their own flagship store. Having a flagship store is an extension of a marketing tool, which is also a way of growing our business. We are going to be on the same block as Fred Segal, a Bathing Ape, Marc Jacobs and Paul Smith. With our central location, we’ll also be able to expand our customer base to a more sophisticated and older clientele.

Format: Crooks & Castles is based in Los Angeles, a city that defines people, companies and industries. How is Los Angeles part of Crooks & Castles, as product and company?
Calvero: Our whole lifestyle that developed from growing up in L.A. embodies what Crooks is all about. But when I decided to re-launch the brand, I was living on the east coast. What I was exposed to at that time was more New York based.

More Info: http://www.crooksncastles.com/

Crooks and Castles

Jordan Chalifoux

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26 comments

  1. cool read…big ups to CC! keep look out for Vzyco(veez-a-co)Vss Brand….those guys work are bananas as well…..JK all Day

    myspace.com/vzyco_vss_brand
    its private u hve to be added as a friend,until the line drops late spring/early summer 1.

  2. “Calvero: Bill Gates. He built his own empire after ripping off Apple.” stupidist most bias thing i’ve ever heard. microsofts system made it easier to use the computer, apple then came along and tried but severly failed in its early days. is this dude stupid??? the only reason apple is doing well these days is because they’ve created an image. microsoft pioneered computer OS’s, end of story…what a moron.

  3. johnny mcsugganutz says:

    these pictures are from karmaloop and i just wanted to comment on what d*cks those guys are. i was in there this weekend and they’re the least friendly more pretentious guys in the game. they’re also the ugliest. seriously ugly dudes. they should shut down that brick-and-mortar operation and stick with what they’re good at, which is impersonal online sales and marketing. at bodega they’re a million times nicer and they have infinitely better stuff. i had to put that out there.

  4. I like their designs but I noticed a lot of quality problems on their tees. As a screen printer I know when someone fucked up printing and it seemed to be the case on a lot of their shirts at Commonwealth.

  5. Their quality is indeed horrible and the comment about Bill Gates was also incredibly dumb. Maybe he should focus less on posing, but more on being.

  6. this clothing is for overgrown children and non-crime comitting idiots. No real crook would be caught dead in this flash n trash nonsense. This is video-game chic, for when you’re eating cheetos and playing GTA.

    I’ve done crime, and I sure the fuck wasn’t wearing overpriced nonsense at the time. If shit is gonna be flashy, it better be worth real money.

  7. I’ve heard they have some quality control issues with most of their threads. I guess it’s all about quantity, not quality.

  8. The designs are Official but the Quality Sucks Ballz & I could say that because I bought a shit load of the clothes. Yall need to Step It The Fuck Up when it comes to quality … Word is Bond

  9. I made the mistake once buying some shirts. The quality sucks and the designs besides being copied from some other brands are boring. no more no more.

  10. I just can’t believe the amount of bias and complete ignorance scattered throughout this commentaria section of the article. People have no concept of subject matter. The point of the Article was to see what Calvero’s Crooks and Castles line was all about. As for old boy up top…do your research, Calvero comes from the streets; he was heavy in the Filippino Gangs of LA. He did crime, too (check this link: ) Anyone reading this SHOULD BE A RAP FAN: everyone loves Jay-Z or at least respects him, went from the Dopeman to being the foremost MC, and a corporate mogul within the rap community. He took his stories of dope sales, violence, crime, theft, murder, rape all of that and sold it to you and YOU bought it, regardless if you could actually relate to it. Crooks isn’t FOR criminals it’s for people in general that have to struggle, grind, hustle, whatever the hell it is you do to get your castle…be it work a 9-5 or run the jooks in your hood to get it in. He takes his mentality and lifestyle and applies it no differently than half of the fake/manufactured hip-hop artists we listen to. The only difference is that Crooks is still street level whereas brands like LRG and Akademiks have already sold out. As for the Quality of Crooks, in street wear, they’re not sending orders to China for a million sweatshirts they’re sourcing how and where they can to get a couple hundred or a couple thousand pieces wherever they can. There isn’t a fully established quality standard just yet, but for the most part in their last 2 drops, crooks’ quality, especially with the illuminati stuff is sick. SO all of you idiots hating, start your own streetwear company or a store before you go bad-mouthing a brand you don’t anything about!!!

  11. So what is it that makes YOU buy a shirt?

    Would you buy a mediocre designed shirt, decent quality, but the BRAND and clothing STOOD and MEANT something towards humanity….would you buy it for say 18.00?

  12. the quality does suck..and they should come out with better designs. I’ve seen alot of good stuff that they never released to the public. They need to start releasing there “limited” designs and make the quality at least a little bit better and more people would definitely be copping

  13. Yo. check it out…VZYCO (veez-a-co) vss brand is my streetwear line alone…its hittin real big and since so many of us extroverted gays are holdin it down on the flavor front…im jumpin on dat streetwear bandwagon…much love to all
    *Pro Ballers even sport* ….peep game yo
    http://www.myspace.com/vzyco_vss_brand
    Miko B.

  14. 90 percent of the C&C designs are ill but it is true that the quality is pretty poor. As for the their C&C groupies, they give the brand a bad name and it’s not cool to act hard anymore. Most of us are out here gettin’ that money…and not into fights so who gives a shit where you’re from, where you were from or how hard you might think you are.

  15. What’s all this sissy ass crying about quality?!
    Are the shirts you buy 600 thread count, hand sewn and printed in Italy? These are SHIRTS not suits. As long as it’s comfortable, 100%, doesn’t fall apart after several wears, and has a clean printed design, I’m happy. Quality is objective too, some people think lightweight tees are higher quality, some like heavier tees. Do you guys complain about Nike shoes made in sweatshops for a quarter? Do you judge the food you eat by quality? how healthy it is? Then shut the fuck up.

  16. What’s all this sissy ass crying about quality?!
    Are the shirts you buy 600 thread count, hand sewn and printed in Italy? These are SHIRTS not suits. As long as it’s comfortable, 100%, doesn’t fall apart after several wears, and has a clean printed design, I’m happy. Quality is objective too, some people think lightweight tees are higher quality, some like heavier tees. Do you guys complain about Nike shoes made in sweatshops for a quarter? Do you judge the food you eat by quality? how healthy it is? Then shut up.
    (in case previous post is too obscene)

  17. Ive had a lotta Crooks gear over the past couple years it started out good quality merch, but lately all the stuff i buy has issues.From loose stitching resulting in open seams to weak threads that bust. Disappointing cuz it coulda been so much more.

  18. Im a Graffiti Artist 12 years in the game, 24-7 no bullshit im looking at the desings but i got my own style of writting get at me if you wanna get your shit sellin

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