In Dan Cassab’s studio in Mexico City

Daniela Cassab knows how to dress a rock star. After studying art history at Parsons, she returned to Mexico and styled the contestants of The Voice Mexico. There she worked with Maluma, J Balvin and Bad Bunny. “It was a channel for me to find out what makes them feel powerful when they’re on stage,” she explains. “What to do and what not to do to feel, literally, like a rock star.” Her clients began asking her to make custom pieces, especially jackets, instead of simply looking for designer staples. Then one day someone suggested putting a brand name 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 list of clients that helped boost her brand early on. Since then, she has cultivated a devoted international fan base. Cassab 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 for it came from 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 became fashionable by lengthening the hems, relaxing the overall silhouette and increasing the collar. With this aesthetic development, the Dan Cassab consumer began to fully take shape.

The master decorated the leather;

Photos: courtesy of Dan Cassab

Cassab calls the process of joining the leather a work of art.

Inside Cassab’s studio in Mexico City.

The designer grew up in the world of fashion, or at least in its background. Her family worked in manufacturing for Guess Jeans and Marciano, so she learned what it takes to actually make that pair of jeans you buy in the store. Craftsmanship, she explains, 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 craftsmen work in all categories—those who procure the leather, those who ensure quality, those who join each individual piece, those who decorate and embroider Cassab emphasizes the craftsmanship and immense skill required for each task. Once you sew up the skin, there’s no going back—unless you want to leave a mark.

The procured skin hangs ready to be made into a piece of clothing;

Photos: courtesy of Dan Cassab

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

Some styles are beaded, others trimmed with fur.

In the studio, collaboration is key. “[Mojimajstorićemebacitisprijedlogomkakošivatialimoždaćuimjabacitiloptunatrendkojibismomoždatrebaliisprobati”Ponekadcrpiinspiracijuizkopčenatržniciilistanjakožekojudonesuustudio”Možetevidjetizavršetaknakožiimožetezamislitikomad”razmišljaona[MyartisansaregoingtothrowtheballatmewithasuggestiononhowtostitchbutmaybeI’mgoingtothrowaballatthemofatrendthatmaybeweshouldtry”Sometimesshe’sdrawinginspirationfromabuckleinamarketortheconditionofleathertheybringintothestudio“Youcanseethefinishontheleatherandyoucanimaginethepiece”shemuses[Mojimajstorićemebacitisprijedlogomkakošivatialimoždaćuimjabacitiloptunatrendkojibismomoždatrebaliisprobati”Ponekadcrpiinspiracijuizkopčenatržniciilistanjakožekojudonesuustudio”Možetevidjetizavršetaknakožiimožetezamislitikomad”razmišljaona[MyartisansaregoingtothrowtheballatmewithasuggestiononhowtostitchbutmaybeI’mgoingtothrowaballatthemofatrendthatmaybeweshouldtry”Sometimesshe’sdrawinginspirationfromabuckleinamarketortheconditionofleathertheybringintothestudio“Youcanseethefinishontheleatherandyoucanimaginethepiece”shemuses

Cassab describes her customer as someone who likes “the Aspen Texas cowboy look, but very chic.” Her wide range of references reflects three sonic elements. There is obviously a western component. There’s a contingent of space-age futurism evident in styles like the Ringo jacket. Then it’s infused with a bit of 70s rock and roll. Each one is filled with historical images from which to draw inspiration. The resulting moodboard crosses Brancusi’s sculpture with traditional Moroccan beadwork techniques, Josef Albers’ squares with punk biker jackets, Luis Barragán’s architecture with David Bowie’s floral suit. Her favorite style icons range from Prince and Elvis Presley to Dolly Parton and Miranda Lambert. (The latter Cassab was dressed many times.)

Portrait of Daniela Cassab;

Photos: courtesy of Dan Cassab

Master in Cassab’s studio.

Jackets hang in Cassab’s main store;

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

Cassab plays with a new type of decoration to create unique styles;

Photos: courtesy of Dan Cassab

Master in Cassab’s studio.

Masters 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’re going out tonight with a silk dress, you can wear a jacket, and tomorrow morning with your jeans and a tank top, the jacket will dress you up.” You can wear it again and again and again, just like you would wear a purse or a necklace. Not to mention, there is a certain swagger associated with the history of leather jackets. “You’d be very surprised if people walked into our store and left with a jacket on,” Cassab says of their Mexico City outpost, “they’re a completely different person.”

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