Style Stories: Chris Natalio Of Crooks & Castles
Crooks & Castles launched in 2002 and remains one of the most relevant names in streetwear today. Founders Robert Panlilio and Dennis Calvero grew up in L.A. during the 80s, and based their brand’s name on the city’s lifestyle.
“Crooks” represents the criminals, hustlers, pimps, thieves and other hoodlums, while “Castles” refer to those who got filthy rich by becoming a crook.
As Robert and Dennis put it, “Behind every Castle stands a Crook. Meaning behind every empire, someone did something crooked to achieve their goal. Castles represents our goal, for every street hustler, entrepreneur, or mogul. We’re all crooks in some way, some just choose not to show their true colors.”
Crooks & Castles has been spotted on some of the biggest names in hip hop, from Jay-Z to Nas, Jadakiss and Fabolous.
I got a chance to catch up with Chris Natalio, Crooks’s marketing director, who’s been with the brand since its humble beginnings. Find out what it’s like to work with Crooks and what’s in store for summer:
DrJays.com: How did you get your start in streetwear, and with Crooks?
Chris: “I’ve been a big fan of streetwear since the early 90s, before it was even given that name. I was drawn to the edgy graphics and rebellious nature of the brands at the time. I’ve been part of the Crooks family since the late 80s, so when the opportunity came up, it was natural I fill the position.”
DrJays.com: Describe a typical day in the life of Crooks’ marketing director.
Chris: “My work day starts around 9:30am; I’m usually the first one in the office. I start by answering emails and updating the blog. I then follow up with some of the bigger projects I have in the matrix, such as photo shoots, events, collaborations and everything in between. We get a few random artists that come by the office, so I have to make sure they’re taken care of. Plus probably a million more things I didn’t mention!”
DrJays.com: You’ve been with the brand since day one—how has it evolved over the years?
Chris: “We came into the game with t-shirts, as did the other streetwear brands, but we’ve been able to grow into a complete lifestyle brand. We now offer gear from head to toe, plus an array of accessories, a women’s collection, a kid’s collection and footwear. Anything you can think of we’ve probably made or it’s in the works!”
Crooks & Castles spring 2010 looks
Chris: Our summer collection is our smallest capsule of all seasons, but it still packs heat. We have tons of ill graphic tees, a wide variety of shorts, including board shorts, and short sleeve button ups and polos. Of course, New Era hats, too, and lots of color.
DrJays.com: If you had to pick one celebrity you would personally like to see in Crooks, who would it be?
Chris: “We’ve been very fortunate to get love from a lot of top hip hop celebs, so I think it would be someone who you would never expect to be wearing it! Maybe President Barack Obama…I’m sure he’s a Crook too! (laughs)”
DrJays.com: Can you give our aspiring streetwear entrepreneurs a few words of advice?
Chris: “I think most people don’t get to really see the behind the scenes hard work put into this. All they see is the finished product on blogs. All I can say is it’s harder than it looks, so if you’re in it for the long haul, then go for it.”
DrJays.com: Any exciting collaborations in the works?
Chris: Nothing solid, but working on something for a collaboration that’s coinciding with a big artist’s new album release.
Stay tuned for summer gear from Crooks & Castles, and check out the latest on DrJays.com.