14 September 2013

Purveyr x Trilogy Series: Crooks & Castles

From simple beginnings to worldwide recognition, Crooks & Castles have evolved into a staple streetwear brand, asserting themselves as one of the most iconic brands in the streetwear culture. The brand's very core is that it celebrates the villain, the hustler, the thief, the drug-dealer born of the streets and raised in the streets. The gang behind Crooks & Castles have developed the brand to something the market would accept and embrace. This Purveyr x Trilogy Exclusive puts you up-close and personal with the people responsible in taking the brand to top - see what they have to say about starting-up and what inspires them on an every basis to set themselves apart from other streetwear brands.  

Emil Soriano, Design Director 
Dennis Calvero, Vice-President
G Dela Cruz, Marketing Department

What do you guys do?

Emil Soriano: I think what we do is that we make good quality product. Everything from t-shirts, which is the bread and butter of out company, all the way through everything from hats, footwear, eyewear, outerwear, denim; you name it, everything is. 

When and how did you guys start? When did it all come together?

Emil Soriano: The brand started in 2002, previous to that we had another clothing brand called Landscape. Crooks & Castles started in 2002 and we built it from ever since then, it's basically a family-based company. For us, we are were trying to start with tees and move into different categories, like, jeans, jackets, and sweatshirts; so we grew it from there.

What inspires you with your work?

Emil Soriano: Oh man, it's an array of things, to be honest. It could be everything from, other high fashion brands, that we all admire; to art, architecture, traveling, movies, there's a lot of inspiration out there nowadays, I mean, just with the access to the internet and how social media has taken upon itself to really like have a grasp with everybody who could see things on the other side of the world, with just one click, it's just amazing. We didn't have that when the brand first started. 

How do you guys set yourselves apart from all the other streetwear brands? How do you consistently come up with new designs?

Dennis Calvero: I think for us, we put out designs that we want to put out. We don't look at what other people are doing. If Emil likes it, or my brother, or G, or we all like a certain style that we're basically in to, we'll put it out.
Emil Soriano: We try to keep everything original. Granted, in this industry with fashion and streetwear, everybody does ripoffs of everybody. It's all about how you do it and do it right. You take from what you get inspired from, then you put your twist in it to make it different.
Dennis Calvero: Another big way that separates us is that we're a family. It's not a company where we have to hire people from here, here, and here. We started off as guys from the same block, we hung out since we were in high school. Now, we travel the world doing fashion and get inspired all over the world, from everything we see to the lifestyle we want to live back home. 

Speaking to people who would want to start up their own brand, how do their put the pieces together? And make something out of it?

Emil Soriano: I think a lot of it has to do with just doing your research. Whether it has to be schooling, in order for them to get in the right direction; meeting people, just really networking with the right people and being with the right people to really take it to the next level. Also the commitment and dedication to this craft, because, it's not easy. There are a lot talented people out there that may not have the outlet we have, and the fact that we have this outlet and we have the talent and skill-set, we're able to what we need to do.
Dennis Calvero: For kids who are trying to do it out there, just believe in yourselves, believe in your designs. Like Emil said, be original and just go for it; and don't try to start running before you learn how to walk; don't try to over-develop the product, stay with stuff like the printables - the t-shirts, or the hats, the extensive stuff.
Emil Soriano: Stuff you can manage!
Dennis Calvero: If you try to do everything from jackets and pants, but you won't be able sell one.

What're your main dreams and aspirations?

Emil Soriano: I think, it really comes down to the fact that we're here and we're in the motherland. We're Filipino-Americans that have kind of came back to the heritage of who we are as a race. I think it's big, it's huge, I mean, this is part of the dream. The fact that we're expanding to different countries other than the US. I think it's more retail, more bricks and mortar, just more assortment with our product range. We're pretty versatile in terms of what we deliver and what we bring to the market. We got collaborations coming up and are exciting - the biggest one that we are dropping at the end of the year, is with Hasbro, it's with Monopoly. So you're going to see, Crooks-Monopoly game board. So we're starting to promote it. Now when you actually see the game board you're going to be impressed, because we full designed it from the ground up, we redesigned everything - the game tokens, the money, we even called out our own streets, everything.
Dennis Calvero: But another big goal is we have a business that feeds our families, our friends, the lifestyle that we could life continuously. Imagine going to work and you're sitting with your brothers that you grew up with from the same black. Imagine going to the Philippines, like we are today, it's a dream. Do something we enjoy. We're here today, we're going out to eat today, we're here sitting with you guys, doing this interview - we never thought ten or twelve years ago we could be out here opening a store, traveling the world, going to Japan, Paris, Spain, London. This has been a dream of ours, we just want to maintain what we've started and finish it, hopefully, we continue living that lifestyle. 

Emil Soriano: I've got a question for you, what do you think of a brand like ours coming to the Philippines?
Me: I think it's big because people are more aware of streetwear nowadays and it has expanded so much in the Philippines. The fact that these international brands are here, it has filled that gap of having to worry that our favorite international brands can't be purchased here. 
Dennis Calvero: People are starting to understand the difference. There's a difference to it, it's not just urban like FUBU, Sean John, or Tribal, it's not about that anymore. No offense to those brands, it's just what we've created, we were one of the founding brands to start streetwear and start this LA-based movement for us and it did not have a place to sit. Having it here in the Philippines, the timing is just perfect. 
Emil Soriano: It's an honor to be here, we're honored and we're glad that it's being received well. I speak for the team, and we're all happy that this finally happened.

Photos by Nina Tomas
Thanks to Trilogy Boutique


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