When trends turn tragic.
Hulu’s upcoming true-crime series, The Curse of Von Dutch: A Brand to Die For, explores the rise and fall of the iconic Y2K fashion brand known for its trucker hats and A-listers who deemed them cool.
Although Vogue thinks of trucker hats as “one of the biggest tacky-chic accessories of the era,” the outlet also considers Von Dutch “the It label of the time period.”
Hulu’s character-driven saga chronicles the true story behind the Von Dutch brand while exploring the complexity of company control and controversy in a three-part docuseries premiering on Nov. 18. Venice Beach surfers, European fashionistas, gangsters, and Hollywood movers and shakers vied to gain ownership, while the brand’s trucker-hat product transformed from an obscure fashion accessory to a popular fashion necessity among consumers and celebrities in the 2000s.
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images; James Devaney/WireImage; Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images
The brand was based on the hot-rod culture of the 1960s and was inspired by American artist and Kustom Kulture member Kenny Howard – also known as “Von Dutch.” Following his death in 1992, Howard’s daughter sold the Von Dutch name to Michael Cassel and Robert (“Bobby”) Vaughn – who have since been credited for the soaring popularity of the line.
“They didn’t know how to run a business,” an insider notes in the trailer. “It was really a facade.”
Donned by the likes of Paris Hilton, Justin Timberlake, and Britney Spears, while simultaneously evolving into a pop-culture phenomenon were considered the brand’s highs. The lows? Greed and backstabbing, followed by bloodshed that caused its demise from the pinnacle of fashion-industry success.
“Stores were opened, including one on Melrose Avenue, and there was plenty of infighting between the owners before the brand would fall into oblivion and eventually be sold to a European shoe distributor,” wrote Deadline.
Courtesy of Hulu
Keep scrolling for everything we know about the Hulu series that’s going beyond the glam to reveal the true-crime aspects of the brand that rose quickly, and fell just as fast.
What case does The Curse of Von Dutch intend on uncovering?
The true-crime series aims to explore the shady practices behind the Von Dutch business. The trailer alludes to the possibility that it was a money-laundering scheme, in which one person from the clip said, “money was rolling in,” followed by another who claimed that the company was once worth “north of a billion” dollars. “Fashion’s the easiest to launder money,” said Vaughn, followed by Cassel who hints that the company did business with a woman associated with Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar.
Bob D’Olivo/The Enthusiast Network via Getty Images/Getty Images
The biggest problem the company faced? One of its co-founders was charged with first-degree murder. In addition to murder, money, madness, and mysteries, the series dives deep into the origins of the Von Dutch clothing line, in which three different individuals claim to have created it: Ed Boswell, Vaughn, and Cassel. Although Howard’s daughter sold the name to Vaughn and Cassel following his death in 1992, Boswell, an L.A. art dealer, confidently believes that he officially created the legendary brand. “Don’t tell people that you created the Von Dutch clothing line,” he states in the trailer. “Tell them what really happened.”
The trailer explains how the company was “always hard to control,” between fist fights and the three butting heads. “For the right money, people will do anything,” one person notes in the preview.
Who will be in The Curse of Von Dutch?
The three men who each claim to have created Von Dutch – Boswell, Vaughn, and Cassel – will all tell their side of the story in the series. Danish entrepreneur and creative Tony Sorensen, who was best known for his successful commercialization of the brand, will speak out as well.
Courtesy of Hulu (4)
Sorensen was brought in by Cassell to serve as the CEO, but even he was unaware of certain aspects of the company. “I was CEO, but there were certain things that I didn’t know,” reveals Sorensen in the trailer.
Celebrities who favored the brand such as Paris Hilton and Dennis Rodman also appear as talking heads. “Von Dutch was iconic for Y2K fashion,” says Hilton in the preview. “Trucker caps, jeans, jacket… that was like our uniform basically.”
What will each The Curse of Von Dutch episode be about?
The first episode is titled, “Who Created Von Dutch?” Deep diving into the origin of the Von Dutch brand, the episode will explore the relationship between a cocaine kingpin and a fledgling gangster as they set out to launch the classic brand.
The second episode, titled “The Art Of War,” explains the onset of Von Dutch’s downward spiral when a new investor is introduced to the company – with that brings about creative tension, a series of terminations, and murderous actions.
Courtesy of Hulu
The third episode, titled “Von Douche,” illustrates the Von Dutch brand spiraling out of control as former partners work to sabotage the company and destroy their reputation in the fashion industry.
What has Robert “Bobby” Vaughn done since his work with Von Dutch?
The California native, who grew up in Santa Cruz, moved to New York to start a new life after having some serious run-ins with the law. In 2005, Vaughn was said to be hanging out with his friend who had just been released from prison. The New York Times reported, “Mr. Vaughn shot him, fatally, and claimed self-defense.” According to Vaughn, this was in response to being attacked by his friend with a broken bottle.
While in New York, he was arrested for possession of an unregistered handgun. He “pleaded guilty to a felony gun charge and was sentenced to five years probation,” according to the New York Times. In an effort to turn his life around, Vaughn discovered the waves at Rockaway and felt “reborn” through surfing.
With the intent of bringing the West Coast vibe east, he opened FTW (a surf shop on Beach 116th Street) with graffiti-covered, top-of-the-line surfboards and skateboards and murals on the wall. “People get intimidated by the gangster look, but I just want to turn my life around, and to show the street kids here – whether they’re surfers or kids from the projects – that they can do it too,” Vaughn said in an interview.