Inside Dan Cassaba’s Mexican studio

Daniela Cassab knows how to dress a rock star. After studying art history at Parsons, she returned to Mexico and styled contestants on The Voice Mexico. There she worked with the likes of Maluma, J Balvin and Bad Bunny. “It was a channel for me to learn what makes them feel powerful when they’re on stage,” he explains. “Dos and Don’ts to Literally Feel Like a Rock Star.” Her clients began asking her to custom-make pieces, specifically jackets, rather than simply sourcing designers. Then one day someone suggested putting a brand on them. So she sewed a shortened version of her name into the lining, and in 2016, Dan Cassab was born.

It was this glittering client list that helped boost her brand in its early days. Since then, she has built a devoted international fan base. Cassab has won their hearts (and wallets) with a slow approach, creating signature styles like the Loretta, a fringed leather jacket she launched three years ago. The inspiration was a jacket called Cuera Tamaulipeca, traditionally worn by ranchers in Reynosa, Tamaulipas and northern Mexico to protect themselves from rain and branches. It was utilitarian; Cassab made it fashionable by increasing the length of the fringe, loosening the overall silhouette and increasing the collar. With this aesthetic evolution, the Dan Cassab consumer began to take full form.

Craftsman decorated with leather;

Photo: Courtesy of Dan Cassab

Cassab calls the leather stitching process a work of art.

Inside Cassab’s studio in Mexico City.

The designer grew up in the world of fashion, or at least in the back of it. Her family worked in manufacturing for Guess Jeans and Marciano, so she learned what it takes to actually make the jeans you buy in the store. She clarifies that craftsmanship is now a priority for her own brand. What started as a team of three in her Mexico City studio has grown to nearly twenty. Highly skilled artisans work across all categories – those who purchase the leather, those who ensure quality, those who repair each individual piece, those who decorate and embroider Cassab underlines both the artistry and immense skill required for each task. Once you sew leather, there’s no turning back—unless you want to leave a mark.

The recovered skin hangs ready to form a piece of clothing;

Photo: Courtesy of Dan Cassab

Nothing in Cassab’s studio lives up to the term “basic leather jacket.”

Some styles are embellished with beads, others are embellished with fur.

Collaboration is key in the studio. “[Mojiřemeslnícipomněhodlajíkoulisnávrhemjakšítalemožnánaněhodímkoulicožjetrendkterýbychommožnámělizkusit”Někdyčerpáinspiracizesponynatrhunebozestavukůžekteroupřinesoudostudia”Můžetevidětpovrchkůžeaumítesipředstavittenkousek”přemítá[MyartisansaregoingtothrowtheballatmewithasuggestiononhowtostitchbutmaybeI’mgoingtothrowaballatthemofatrendthatmaybeweshouldtry”Sometimesshe’sdrawinginspirationfromabuckleinamarketortheconditionofleathertheybringintothestudio“Youcanseethefinishontheleatherandyoucanimaginethepiece”shemuses[Mojiřemeslnícipomněhodlajíkoulisnávrhemjakšítalemožnánaněhodímkoulicožjetrendkterýbychommožnámělizkusit”Někdyčerpáinspiracizesponynatrhunebozestavukůžekteroupřinesoudostudia”Můžetevidětpovrchkůžeaumítesipředstavittenkousek”přemítá[MyartisansaregoingtothrowtheballatmewithasuggestiononhowtostitchbutmaybeI’mgoingtothrowaballatthemofatrendthatmaybeweshouldtry”Sometimesshe’sdrawinginspirationfromabuckleinamarketortheconditionofleathertheybringintothestudio“Youcanseethefinishontheleatherandyoucanimaginethepiece”shemuses

Cassab describes his customer as someone who loves “the Aspen Texas cowboy look, but very chic.” Her wide range of references reflects three resounding elements. There is obviously a western component. There’s a certain amount of space-age futurism evident in styles like the Ringo jacket. Then it’s laced with some 70s rock and roll. Each is ripe for historical images from which to draw inspiration. The resulting moodboard intersects Brancusi’s sculptures with traditional Moroccan beading techniques, Josef Albers’ square with punk biker jackets, Luis Barragán’s architecture with David Bowie’s floral costume. Her favorite style icons range from Prince and Elvis Presley to Dolly Parton and Miranda Lambert. (The last Cassab dressed many times.)

Portrait of Daniela Cassabová;

Photo: Courtesy of Dan Cassab

Craftsman in Cassab’s studio.

Jackets hang in the Cassab flagship store;

The founder of the brand likes to watch her customers incorporate the jacket into their own wardrobes. Take DJ Pamela Tick, for example, who teamed her fur-trimmed Queen jacket with a white tee and jeans, while Chloe King, another vocal supporter, attended fashion week in a blue fringed khaki button-down Loretta. “The magic,” says Cassab, is that these two people are both wearing the same jacket.

Cassab plays with a new kind of embellishment to create unique styles;

Photo: Courtesy of Dan Cassab

Craftsman in Cassab’s studio.

Artisans in Cassab’s studio.

Although it has since expanded into other categories, the foundation of the brand lies in outerwear. Cassab draws a parallel between jackets and accessories. “If you go out tonight in a silk dress, you can wear a jacket and tomorrow morning with jeans and a tank top, the jacket will dress you up.” You can wear it over and over and over, just like a purse or a necklace. Not to mention that there is a certain swagger associated with the history of leather jackets. “You’d be so surprised when people come into our store and leave with a jacket,” Cassab says of his Mexico City base, “they’re completely different people.”

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