When I started DINO, I didn't set out to design clothes as a commodity. Selling was uncomfortable, because I loved making and sharing them so much that it was hard to imagine asking people to pay for them. The fashion industry relied on brick-and-mortar stores to grow, and sales reps to get them there. Volumes were everything. Make more for less. But my mindset from the very beginning was anti-fashion. Less is more. The ego and exclusivity of the fashion industry had pushed clothing far away from its functional roots and into a mindset of “what’s next?” vs. “what works?” Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always appreciated clothing as a form of self-expression, as a girl growing up in Iowa wearing yellow bell bottoms and olive green crop tops. But somewhere along the way, the sense of belonging that connected us through our choice of fashion began to divide us.
As a young girl in the 80’s, raised by a single mom, it was a special day when we could afford the big brand clothing. My mom used to say, “You can have two JC Penney polo tops OR one Lacoste top." I would always choose for the one Lacoste top with that beautiful little alligator. The perfect thing about Lacoste was the branding, not only because I loved the alligator, but because it was also so easily removable that when I grew out of my Lacoste top I could remove it and sew it onto another generic top. This solved the problem of my mom affording another Lacoste, and I would get to go to school feeling like a queen. Most of the time I would sew the alligator onto a top that looked nothing like a Lacoste at all. An old velvet button-up, an unbranded boob-tube, or even this purple knit jumper you see me wearing here in the pic with my sister. Soon I discovered that I could buy the alligator socks for $3, remove the alligator and then put it onto not just one top but two tops! So that meant a $3 pair of socks suddenly became two expensive Lacoste polos. Brilliant.
So why was it then, as I entered into creating my own brand, that the logo became secondary to the clothing? The short answer is YOU. After spending 20 years in corporate marketing with influential brands like J.Walter Thompson, Red Bull and NIKE, I was taught that branding was everything. Put the logo here. Make it just so big. But as I envisioned DINO, I was influenced by my own childhood and the negative symbolism of branding that equated to popularity, status, self-worth. The resistance to branding as status, rather than a symbol of quality, played a major role in my choice to limit the use of the DINO logo on the outside of the clothing. The separation of the haves and the have-nots by a simple logo stamp couldn’t possibly play a role in living softly. So as our story goes, YOU are the hero. We strive to make clothing that highlights the wearer, adds value to YOUR life, makes YOU glow from the inside out, and creates opportunities for conversation and connection through the power of touch. A soft, sweet, and sustainable story inspired by YOU. The Beginning of Living Softly.