The Mystery Hidden Under the Trucker Hat

If you know fashion in the early 2000s, then you have seen the illustrious global obsession Von Dutch. From Paris Hilton to Jay-Z, the y2k brand was religiously worn by all fashion icons and later adopted by amateur fashionistas alike. The documentary The Curse of Von Dutch: A Brand to Die For on Hulu, exposes the history behind the brand, and the battle that arose in an attempt to gain rights to the name. The bloody war resulted in murder and sabotage from the greed and jealousy that was brought upon this fashion empire. This three-part documentary shows the rise and fall of the infamous brand: Von Dutch. I will be giving my review on this intense documentary.
One of the first and recurring conflicts in the show is that Ed Boswell, Michael Cassel (former drug dealer and convict), and Bobby Vaughn (Cassels friend) all claim they were the original creators of Von Dutch. In the documentary, Boswell was shown to be the real creator, although the others contradicted this statement. Boswell created this unique look from Kenny Howard, an American biker who went by the name Von Dutch. Cassel said, “Howard started the trend of flames and eyeballs as a design, which was then used in Von Dutch clothing. Kids go through a stage where they like punk rock and like to rebel. The creator of Von Dutch expressed this through his art”. This “timeless and American brand” has an array of different streetwear styles that was based on workwear and the military in the 1990s.
When the brand took off, it was worn by celebrities such as Britney Spears and Nicole Richie at big events and parties. The brand was “edgy” and it stood out, which is why it became such a tremendous craze.
Here’s where the drama begins. Soon after the brand’s popularity spiked, Boswell got kicked out of the company by Cassel who was hired by Boswell at the start. This was done because Cassel got carried away with all his power. This became a dominant trend throughout Von Dutch history. During this chaos, Vaughn accidentally killed his roommate Mark Rivas out of self-defense because Rivas was trying to kill him with a broken glass beer bottle. Although they were close childhood friends, Rivas may have tried to kill Vaughn out of jealousy from the success of the company. In the meantime, Cassel was planning a disturbance of his own. He hired many hitmen associated with the Colombian cartel to go to the Von Dutch office and force a suitcase of money in exchange for the company. These two incidents became known worldwide and were the real downfall of Von Dutch. Consequently, people didn’t want to support a brand with a history of illegal acts. The mysterious acts behind Von Dutch made it rapidly go downhill

This dark documentary was interesting. The twist and turns in the journey of the brand kept me watching. To see how the Von Dutch brand built itself from nothing and became a company everyone wanted to fill their closets with was inspiring. Seeing the scenes action of the journey of Von Dutch gave me a new perspective on fashion companies. I learned how difficult it was to start a business, keep it going and make it popular while making a profit. It was also frightening to see how such a successful fashion empire quickly crumbled from an abrupt mistake.
The documentary quality and script were superb. The film showed the public many different interviews and the perspectives of the different people that were a part of the Von Dutch community. The interviewees went into depth when describing their experiences, which helped me greatly understand the complicated story and what really went on. They also showed many old pictures from when the brand was just starting which was very impressive to see how much it grew.
At the end of the documentary, the viewers were exposed to the information that Kenny Howard, the man who gave Von Dutch its “look”, was extremely anti-semitic. After hearing this information and the murder/drug cartel scandal, I immediately lost all respect for this brand. I, along with many other people after watching this documentary, will not be wearing or buying from this brand ever again. I am also glad I educated myself on this matter, so I know what Von Dutch really represents.
Sophomore Isabella Gentry says, “I liked the documentary because it exposed information about the brand that no one knew about. It also sent a message that there is more that goes into supporting a brand than we think and we need to be more aware of this”. This idea is very crucial because people could be spreading an idea through wearing a brand without even knowing they are doing this. This is especially important if the brand is supporting a hateful idea that they don’t support.
“Von Dutch, the art, the myth, the legend, and the curse”. The iconic brand was very creative and unique at the time, but with jealousy came chaos which resulted in major issues. Even though the history behind this brand is quite messy, the legacy it leaves behind continues to influence fashion to this day.