At the height of Von Dutch’s popularity, the company’s clothing was seen worn by celebrities such as Britney Spears, Dennis Rodman, Justin Timberlake, and Paris Hilton. Now, Hulu’s three-part docuseries from Andrew Renzi, ‘The Curse of Von Dutch: A Brand to Die For,’ delves into the story behind the brand’s rise and fall. Mike Cassel, one of the members who was instrumental to Von Dutch Originals’ inception, is also featured in the docuseries. So, if let’s find out more about him then, shall we?
Who is Mike Cassel?
In the 1990s, Michael Cassel had a reputation of being a wild card. He was known to have ties to Pablo Escobar’s associates and was involved in the cocaine trade on the West Coast. Mike had also spent four years in prison for possession of drugs. After his release, Mike was looking for a legitimate business opportunity. By then, he had already lost a clothing company he began.
Earlier, Kenneth Howard was a motorcycle mechanic and an artist whose pseudonym was Von Dutch. It was later revealed that he was also a racist. During the 1950s and 1960s, his work became the distinctive characteristic of the movement known as the Kustom Kulture. According to some reports, Mike bought the rights to the name from Kenneth’s daughters about four years after Kenneth’s demise in 1992. However, other reports that state that Kenneth’s daughters sold the rights to both Mike and Bobby Vaughn. Then, Mike met Ed at a trade show, thus marking the beginning of the clothing brand.
Together, the three — Mike, Bobby, and Ed — envisioned the next big apparel company, and at the time, Von Dutch garnered a small following. Regarding Kenneth, Mike said, “Kids go through a stage where they like punk rock, they like rebellious things, and ”f–k that” anarchy, right? He was that in his art, he was that in his actions, he was completely against the grain.” But differences in opinion eventually led to Ed being forced out of the company, and given Mike’s past, it wasn’t easy to find financial backing.
At this point, Tonny Sorensen, a Danish national, agreed to invest in the company and received the majority control of the brand. From 2000, Tonny was the CEO of Von Dutch. Over the next few years, the company raked in a lot of money and grew in popularity. But when Tonny brought in Chrisitan Audigier, another designer, into the fold, Mike was upset with the direction the company was taking.
Where is Mike Cassel Now?
Mike Cassel was then offered a deal by Tonny, who said that if Mike could muster up $2 million in two weeks, he could buy the company back from Tonny. However, Mike couldn’t and lost creative control of the company in 2002, all while Von Dutch reached newer heights. The director of the docuseries, Andrew, said, “It just really did feel like the perfect example of how the cards were stacked against somebody like Mike. That Mike just was not ever meant to succeed in this world, and it’s sad.”
Later, Mike Cassel was ordered by the court not to use the company’s logo or sell its products. His appeal in court regarding the same in 2004 was unsuccessful. As for Mike’s current whereabouts, we’re unsure of that. He seems to have stayed away from the spotlight for the most part since his exit from the company.
Read More: Where is Bobby Vaughn Now?