Bob Dylan is known for many things, including being a mysterious, elusive genius whose personality and musical style continuously transformed throughout his long and legendary career. Yet despite all his esteemed accomplishments, unlike many other musicians, he’s never really ever been perceived as a style icon. But that’s about to change.

"He’s not like David Bowie, who’s known for his style. He’s very kind of understated and writerly," explains Michael Casarella, the co-founder with his brother Daniel of Barking Irons, the New York–based brand that first made a splash in fashion ten years ago when it released graphic T-shirts emblazoned with antiquated and historically accurate sayings from rough-and-tumble 19th Century New York City (think The Gangs of New York period) and has since branched out to design licensed music merch. “[Dylan] definitely had his moments of stepping out but there was something about that personal style that was attractive to us because not everyone can dress like David Bowie,” Michael continues.

Barking Irons co-founders, brothers Daniel and Michael Casarella
Photo: Barking Irons
Barking Irons co-founders, brothers Daniel and Michael Casarella
The Casarella brothers are talking about Dylan today because for the past year or so he has been the subject of their latest history- and music-based clothing project, a 16-piece men’s premium sportswear collection of outerwear, shirting, knits and graphic tees called The Rolling Thunder Collection by Barking Irons, which was just released on October 15 and is available at Nordstrom and at barkingirons.com. Produced via a partnership with Sony Music, which handles the rights to the Dylan songbook and archive, the new and probably one-time offering–with retail price points from $65 for tees to $395 for outerwear– subtly honors its muse with modern items based on pieces Dylan has donned over the years, many of which are very quietly enhanced with handwritten lyrics, drawings, ticket stubs and other references to the man and his music. Many are so understated that Daniel, who is the brand’s creative director, refers to them as “Easter Eggs.” For example, one piece includes an abstract graphic that matches the pattern of Dylan’s guitar strap.
Barking Irons' Bob Dylan inspired denim jacket
Photo: Barking Irons
Barking Irons' Bob Dylan inspired denim jacket
Two standout jeanswear pieces are also in the mix: a denim jacket with graphics and patches and a “This Wheel’s on Fire” denim shirt with lyrics and Dylan’s handwritten notes about writing the song on the collar.


Marketed with hangtags showing a photo of Dylan wearing the item on which the new one is based (which took months of accumulating image-usage rights), the pieces span his looks from his early 1960s folk-singer days to his “Rolling Thunder Review” tour in the mid 1970s–with particular emphasis on the latter. “It was a totally weird time in Dylan’s career where he was pulling in all these opposite, odd influences. He had a rolling tour of 20 different musicians and it was this real cacophony of musical influences and theater and poetry,” says Michael. “That’s what our collection tries to get at. There’s all these odd influences. There’s gypsy, there’s Western, there’s military and Americana.” As dumb luck would have it, that period is especially timely now as Martin Scorsese has recently released the documentary Rolling Thunder Review: A Bob Dylan Story on Netflix and Sony has launched a new 148-track box set of previously unreleased live recordings from the tour.
The collection's label
Photo: Barking Irons
The collection's label
A testament to the collection’s strength is that Dylan had to give his personal permission to make it and approve every piece. He and his team did–and rubber-stamped about 90% of the samples upon first viewing. Michael explains: “They understood that we were coming at this with a lot of ingenuity and a lot of passion and that we wanted to make it original and make Bob proud.”


Please note: This story is also published in our current magazine #290, 'The Best of Denim' issue.



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