the north face footwear ‘Hoody King’ returns with RYU collaboration
Jason Dussault is well aware not everyone loved his first foray into clothing.
“I totally get that some people are like, ‘Oh, Dussault? That’s the douche bag clothing line that all the gangsters wear,'” he says. “I get that. And I understand that.”
Beginning in the early aughts, Dussault became the mastermind of his eponymous brand, Dussault Apparel. The brand specialized in creating decoratively detailed hooded sweatshirts with the designer’s name emblazoned in a bold rocker on the back.
At one point, you didn’t have to own one of his pricey customized pieces, or even personally know someone who did, to know what it was all about. The detailed toppers, which received a nod of approval from KISS rocker Gene Simmons, were everywhere. To say that Dussault’s collection was as well known in the Lower Mainland as its equally extravagant international counterparts such as ChristianAudigier, Ed Hardy and Affliction, wouldn’t have been much of an exaggeration.
“The clothing had a very maximal feel to it,” he explains of the designs. “I think people know me as the ‘Hoodie King’.”
Dussault admits he designed his pieces with a then popular flashier the better mentality minus the rhinestones, of course.
“I certainly never put rhinestones on any of my clothing,” he says with a laugh. “But my clothing was definitely flashy and it was very expensive.”
So, who was Dussault’s main customer at the time?
“The people who wore my clothing were obviously flashy people and people who wanted to be flashy,” he says. “I was very much known for that.”
It didn’t take long for Dussault Apparel hoodies, which ranged in price from $600 to more than $5,000 (depending on the level of custom work involved), to quickly became popular with gangsters, rockers and those he has come to call his “collectors.”
But, while Dussault admits his brand both benefited and suffered from the perception of certain groups wearing his creations, he’s not looking to hide from those past opinions regarding Dussault Apparel. Instead, he’s ready to show his critics and fans how much his sartorial skills have evolved since he started designing.
“We certainly have those people who have bought the brand because they want things that are flashy and they want things that are expensive and, when I had my shop in Gastown where we did custom clothing, we had a lot of that element buying the clothing,” he says candidly. “So, I think there is a group of people who would say, he is related to or has that sort of stigma attached.
“But I think,
as you go out and put out more about what you’re doing now and people look at it you see the change. And you see the evolution.”
Speaking recently from a temporary art studio space in Chinatown, it’s clear Dussault has changed his look. Gone is the scruffy beard and the long, slicked back hair. These days, Dussault’s look is much more slick what with his close cropped fade and expertly groomed stubble.
But it’s not just his look that has evolved his career has, too.
“Fashion changes and fashion grows,” he says of the argument he had with retailers when his hoody brand was at its peak of popularity. “I told them if they kept pushing the Killer Panda, it would kill the brand.”
And that’s exactly what happened.
“It was ultimately, the retailers pushing to want to make sales that frustrated me into wanting to leave the industry,” he says. “That’s where I focused on my art because I could direct what I wanted to make.”
But, Dussault is stepping back into the role of fashion designer with a limited edition capsule collection with the Vancouver based athletic wear brand RYU, unveiled at the brand’s Metrotown location last week.
“I’m very proud of it,” he says of the launch, which sees him team up with former Dussault Apparel supporter and current Respect Your Universe (RYU) president and CEO, Marcello Leone.
“Marcello took a chance on me at Leone, and it was success. We became very good friends,” he explains.
But aside from a personal connection, Dussault says his identification with the core values of RYU is what made him sign on for the limited edition capsule release.
“I love the DNA of the company Respect Your Universe falls right in line,” he says. “Plus, I work out every day. And, when I work out, RYU clothing is not only technical, it’s subdued. And those are two things I really like.”
Despite the allusion toward a more understated style, Dussault assures his diehard fans the new release will have just enough of the old Dussault Apparel flair to keep them interested while also connecting with new consumers looking for modern athletic wear.
“I think it really fits what’s going on in fashion right now,” he says of the designs. “It’s minimalist, but I also think there is a rock ‘n’ roll vibe back into it.”
The collection, which includes hats, backpacks, sweatshirts and more, also includes nods to Dussault’s artistic creativity with elements such as hand bleaching, dying and embroidery featured on the athleisure designs. Dussault’s trademark name rockers are also emblazoned across the back of select pieces.