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