Dean and Dan Caten Live the Dream in London and Milan

By Paddy Kamen

Dean and Dan Caten

Identical twin boys were born to an English mother and an Italian father in a suburb of Toronto. The boys, Dean and Dan Caten, were the youngest of nine children. They were also exceptionally good-looking and highly creative.

“Even as kids we knew that creativity was going to be our calling,” say Dean and Dan (I’ll have to call them D&D: they do everything together, including responding to my questions). “We loved fashion from the very beginning.”

They loved fashion so much that the boys bucked the gender trend of the day and insisted on being admitted to the home economics class at school so they could learn to sew. What an adventure their lives have been, from a short stint at Parsons The New School for Design in New York to an apprenticeship and eventual design leadership at Ports International in Toronto, then on to Milan, Paris and London. Dean and Dan Caten now head a mega-successful and outstandingly creative design house known as Dsquared2, based in Milan.


The Caten boys didn’t grow up rich but they have a no shortage of moxie: one way they raised money for their fashion business was by working as drag queens. They explain: “In 1991, we moved to Italy where we really wanted to create and launch our brand but didn’t have enough money. Fashion is an expensive business, especially at the beginning, so we performed as drag queens in the clubs to raise money. We’re not ashamed of our past and we want to send a positive message to all young designers: the sky is the limit! If you truly believe in your dreams, nothing is impossible. And in 1995, we launched our first Dsquared2 men’s apparel collection in Paris.”

The theatrical bent that made D&D successful as performers is much in evidence in their renowned cat walk events that more resemble a mini Cirque du Soleil than anything the fashion business had seen to that point. It’s clear that their many talents would have been wasted had they not created their own business in which they enjoy full artistic control. Musicians and other artistic types have gravitated to their circle. They began by creating costumes for Madonna’s 2003 world tour and have gone on to dress other famous performers, including Rihanna, Christina Aguilera, Justin Timberlake and Lenny Kravitz.

While living in London, U.K. and designing in Milan, D&D have not forgotten their Canadian roots. “We visit family in Canada regularly and our homeland is always a great source of inspiration for us. We like to mix our Canadian origins, sense of humour and irony with the expertise of Italian tailoring and the attitude and edge of London. We design pieces that embody a fusion of ideas from North America and Europe. Being Canadian means the world to us and it is the founding base of our brand. A slogan for our company is: Born in Canada, Living in London, Made in Italy.”


Jeans and T’s were the initial garments that made a name for Dsquared2. They used that success as a springboard into men’s and women’s fashion apparel, while always making their statements in clothes that are easy to wear. The brand has diversified into footwear, and fragrances. In 2008, Dean and Dan signed a licensing agreement with Marcolin Group for the production and worldwide distribution of sunwear and ophthalmic eyewear under the Dsquared2 brand. “Marcolin is one of the global leaders in the eyewear industry and we’re very happy to collaborate with them,” say D&D. “The eyewear collection completely reflects our brand identity and completes the Dsquared2 lifestyle.”

Self-identified ‘workaholics’, D&D are intimately involved with every aspect of their business and the same goes for their eyewear collections. “We are 100 per cent involved. An optical or sun frame today is used as a fashionable, trend-setting object, a key accessory to show your personality and style. The frame’s design, style and aesthetics are just as important as its quality and we leave nothing to chance.”

When asked to pick just one of their favourite frame designs D&D point to the runway style, oversized Jackie ‘O style sunglasses from the FW 14 ready-to-wear collection. This model, currently in the design phase, is defined by clip-on jewelry over the brow.

Like many people in their early 40s, Dean and Dan now wear optical frames. For themselves, they prefer a strong black frame, saying: “It gives us an intellectual, chic touch!”

Très chic, I’d say! Dean and Dan Caten are still young, always creative and, I’m sure, have plenty of surprises still to come. They do Canada proud!

Under New Anti-Spam Law

By JoAnne Sommers


Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (CASL), which took effect on July 1, has wide-ranging implications for every business that uses email, social media or instant messaging to promote its products or services.

The legislation applies to messages sent electronically that have a business purpose and covers one-to-one communication as well as mass emails, says Chad Finkelstein, partner, Dale & Lessmann LLP in Toronto. “It applies to all customers, prospective customers, suppliers and vendors with whom you communicate electronically,” he notes.

CASL targets any electronic communication that could be considered to “encourage participation in a commercial activity.” Emails, text messages, instant messages and messages sent through social networks that have a commercial aspect will be considered commercial electronic messages (CEMs), and require express or implied consent, unless they are covered by an exemption.

Express consent means that someone has given their verbal or written approval to receive emails from you. However, the onus is on the sender (i.e. the business owner) to prove they have that consent. Express consent is considered valid if it was obtained before July 1, 2014. After July 1, if you want to continue sending electronic communications to people who have not given you their express consent, you must first contact them by phone or regular mail to obtain it.

Implied consent means you have a personal or family relationship with someone, or an existing business relationship. That means you have conducted some sort of business transaction with the email recipient (i.e. the recipient bought a product or service from you) at some point in the previous two years, says Finkelstein.

“There will be a one-year grace period for existing business relationships so the two-year period is effectively extended to three years,” he notes. “You should maintain a database showing the last time a person bought something from you and, as the two-year window for implied consent closes, ask them to opt-in so you can continue sending them CEMs.”

Implied consent also exists if someone makes their contact information conspicuously available, such as on their website, without stipulating that they don’t want to receive electronic communications.

An exemption exists if someone requests a quote from you or you are communicating factual information about a service or warranty. Registered charities have an exemption for CEMs that are sent to raise money and political parties and candidates are exempt if the message’s primary purpose is to solicit contributions.

Penalties for violating CASL range from $1 million to $10 million; there will only be regulatory enforcement until July 1, 2017, after which spam recipients can sue the sender.

Noting that the statute has a due diligence defense, Joanna Fine, a lawyer in privacy and data management with Toronto-based Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP, says you should do everything possible to establish that you have assessed your email lists and updated your electronic mailing processes. Fine recommends reviewing your existing database to determine how you obtained each email address it contains. Is it for a current patient? Did it come from a business card? If you’re unsure how you got the address seek the person’s express consent.

“It’s a very technical statute and there’s lots of uncertainty about how the provisions will be interpreted,” she says. “Legal advice can help to ensure that your interpretation is correct.”

Preparing for CASL

There are several steps you can take to ensure that your business complies with Canada’s new Anti-Spam Law (CASL), says the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). They recommend the following:

  • Review your current mailing list. Assess whether you have implied consent from those on it to continue contacting them electronically and whether you can rely on that consent under the new legislation. If you rely on implied consent, create a system to alert you when the implied consent period has lapsed. Otherwise, you will require express consent.
  • Develop a records system to keep updated lists of those who have given you consent to send them electronic messages and a list of those who haven’t.
  • All electronic messages must include:
  • specific information that identifies the sender, such as a mailing address, phone and email information or a website address;
  • an unsubscribe option that allows the recipient to stop receiving your emails. Unsubscribed recipients must be removed from your mailing list within 10 business days of their opting out.

o       Employers are responsible for spam sent by their employees. Educate your staff so they know and comply with the new rules.

o       CASL also imposes new standards for electronic messages to comply with Canada’s truth-in-advertising laws. Previously, to assess whether an email was misleading, you had to look at the entire email. With CASL, each of its elements – the subject line, for instance – must be assessed independently.

o       CASL also affects how you contact referrals. You are only allowed to send a single message to a prospective client. It must include the full name of the individual who gave you the referral, and the identification and unsubscribe requirements mentioned above.

There are many other clauses in CASL that could impact your business, says CFIB. For example:

  • if your company installs computer software remotely;
  • if you have an e-newsletter or use promotional/contest emails;
  • if you use email lists from third parties.

For additional information, contact CFIB’s Business Resource Department at 1 888 234-2232. While its counsellors are well informed about the statute, CFIB cannot provide legal advice. To ensure your business is compliant, they recommend you seek advice from your lawyers.

Monika Schnarre Debuts in Exciting Partnership with Optiq Frames

By Paddy Kamen

Monika Schnarre, the youngest woman ever to win Ford’s Supermodel of the World competition, is now the proud designer of an eyewear collection in partnership with Optiq Frames.

Schnarre won the modeling competition when she was only 14, subsequently gracing the cover of American Vogue and runways the world over. Not many young women would have the poise and confidence to live that kind of high-pressure life and Schnarre allows that it was challenging: “I felt this great sense of expectation, perhaps self-imposed, that I had to be a perfect role model, completing high school while working internationally, getting straight ‘A’s, and also living a wholesome lifestyle, which isn’t easy in the modeling world.”

By age 18, Schnarre had given up full-time modeling and moved to Los Angelesto pursue acting. She tested herself by not relying on her savings, throwing herself into another uber-competitive world. “It is definitely very hard to break into acting. I was lucky because I started doing commercials right away and landed a job on The Bold and the Beautiful and then The Beastmaster. At the same time, I took a two-year certificate program in journalism at UCLA.”

After appearances on many leading television shows and hosting red-carpet events, Schnarre decided that she wasn’t meeting her full potential. She left LA and moved back to her hometown of Toronto in 2008, hoping to get more television work.

“The industry was really hurting at that time, and I wasn’t going to sit around waiting for a job to materialize,” she explains. “I realized that I have good name recognition and a love for fashion, so I decided to turn that into a woman’s apparel line.”

Having seen many fashion designers go broke, Schnarre took a low-risk approach and began working with the Shopping Channel. “I knew what I was missing in my own wardrobe and I instinctively knew how to address the needs of tall women like myself,” she explains. “My first collection, Tall, sold out. That collection is now sold through retail stores and now I also design clothes for the average woman, plus accessories, including bags and jewelry.”

It was a chance meeting through a mutual friend that led to Schnarre connecting with Joe Nadler, president of Optiq Frames. “I’ve always loved eyewear and have many pairs in my collection, even though I don’t have a prescription. I liked the Nadlers immediately. It was essential to me that I be involved in the process as I didn’t want to just stick my name on something that I didn’t believe in. They were receptive to my ideas and so a partnership was created.”

Says Nadler:  “I saw working with Monika as an outstanding opportunity. I love the fact that she is Canadian and I appreciate what she is invoking with her brand.”

As Nadler points out, many manufacturers simply obtain a license to use a designer’s name and, “slap the name on with little or no actual involvement from the designer. Our partnership with Monika, is, in contrast, very hands on. She is easy to work with and knows how to articulate her brand. And with all her years in the fashion industry she is very much in touch with what women want to wear. I’m happy to say that we are all extremely proud of the collection.”

The Monika Schnarre eyewear collection of prescription frames and sunwear features designs that embody Monika’s fashion philosophy of simple sophistication and affordability. “The women I design for are working women, like me. They don’t have a fortune to spend on eyewear and yet they insist on designs that further their self-expression and sense of style,” she says.

The launch of the collection this spring will find Schnarre on Breakfast Television and in major women’s magazines. She will appear at trade shows with Optiq Frames and even at customer locations. Video footage has been shot for television and print and radio exposure will be included. “She is prepared to do what it takes to promote the collection and her elegance and recognition factor demand attention,” says Nadler.

All Optiq Frames eyewear, including the Monika Schnarre collection, is manufactured in the same leading factories as many other well-known brands. “We pride ourselves on the quality of our frames,” notes Nadler. “That quality, combined with accessible design features and reasonable pricing, assures us that the target market of women 30 and over is going to love these frames.”

Each frame comes with a lens cloth and designer case, also created by Schnarre, both in her signature colours of blush pink and chocolate brown. Frames are on-trend in a variety of styles (roughly 50 per cent metals and 50 per cent Italian acetates), featuring tortoise shell, sleek metallic temple details and current colours.

It seems there’s no stopping Monika Schnarre as she turns her early success on the world’s runways and her experience in fashion, acting and media to the creation of products that help women express themselves with confidence and style.