The Curse Of Von Dutch Explained

Remember those Von Dutch truckers hats from the early-2000s that everyone was wearing (or maybe you even still have a pair of Von Dutch jeans somewhere in the back of the closet)? At that time, Von Dutch was worn and repped by any number of celebrities, including Justin Timberlake, Nicole Richie, and Lindsay Lohan, to name just a few. The brand, it seemed, was everywhere, but then — and just as quickly — Von Dutch was gone. The brand is now so widely considered to be cursed that Hulu is releasing a three-part docuseries called "The Curse of Von Dutch: A Brand to Die For" November 18. Far more than just an autopsy of the death of early-aughts excess, it goes beyond the glam to cover the grittier, true-crime aspects of the brand. That's right, some of those involved in the iconic brand may have been more than just criminally tacky. 

Founded in 1999, the Von Dutch brand came about when the daughter of the well-known American "Kustom Kulture" artist and pinstriper Kenny Howard, also known as "Von Dutch," sold the rights to the name to Michael Cassel and Robert Vaughn, around which the pair successfully built a seemingly unstoppable clothing company. Along with all that fame and fortune, though, came controversy, and despite Kylie Jenner's recent attempt to revive the brand (per Harper's Bazaar), Von Dutch was never the same. What caused the ubiquitous Y2K clothing company to fall from grace? The answer to that question involves cocaine, money laundering, and worse.

A former partner was accused of murder

When any property becomes as successful as the Von Dutch brand was in the early-2000s, it's inevitable that many players will want a piece of that pie — some scrupulous, and some, far much less so. This was the case with Von Dutch at the height of the brand's success, leading to any number of European fashion designers, gangsters, and other hangers-on to become involved in the company, all vying for control. The true origin of the brand even became a matter of controversy.

According to The New York Times, Von Dutch co-founder Robert "Bobby" Vaughn was riding high on the success of his company when he decided to split with his partners, dismayed at the direction the company had taken. In 2005, though, he was involved in a shooting, which he claimed to have been in self-defense. He was later cleared of the murder but was sentenced to five years probation on a federal gun charge. He only just recently managed to turn his life around, according to Rockawave.

The complete story of the decline of Von Dutch is deeper and more complicated than just the Vaughn case — and the series promises plenty of finger-pointing and drama to go along with cameos from the likes of Paris Hilton — but for anyone to fall from the pinnacle of success in the fashion industry to standing trial, charged with murder, is reason enough to believe the Von Dutch brand may truly be cursed.