Custo Barcelona a brand with a lot of gusto, presence and gumption that once you see it, you’ll never forget it. Even if you could care less about fashion runways its doubtful that you have never ever seen a Custo piece and for some, the clothing and accessories are just that, works of art. It has a distinct style that began simply—two brothers, a trip around the world and a bold idea to transform your basic cotton T-shirt into a fashion statement.
Custo and David Dalmu, the founders of Custo Barcelona created the brand after an eye-opening experience on a motorcycle world tour. The pair came into contact with the most extreme natural landscapes and diverse cultures, art, people and philosophies during their excursion that was far beyond anything they had experienced or seen that would later inspire them to create the successful company they have today.
The brothers have been quoted as saying that it was the time they spent in California in the USA that had the most impact on them and the manifestation of its influence can be directly seen in the core of the clothing designs. They were infatuated with the laid back lifestyle among the surfers of Southern California and the psychedelic art of the Northern California hippie culture.
Custo and David with their previous fashion experience also had a great eye for marketing when taking notice of the overall fashion sense of these two California cultures— it was colorful, cutting edge and there was absolutely nothing like it in Spain at the time.
The brothers returned home to Barcelona and immediately set to work screen-printing T-shirts for men and women with wild graphic illustrations in far out color combinations.
From the early days when Custo Barcelona started in 1996 to today the brand extends far beyond their initial line of T-shirts into a full collection of clothing for men, women and children utilizing the most innovative high-tech dying, printing and embellishment processes available on the market. Furthermore, they have also branched out into eyewear, shoes, handbags and even fragrances.
The style is bold, bright and fashion forward, i.e. patches, rhinestones, groovy acid-color prints. That’s Custo. If you’re the wallflower type that prefers to blend in stylishly then Custo Barcelona is your worst nightmare. The look screams, ‘’LOOK AT ME.’’
There is nothing subtle here and I have found Custo is the type of brand that is quite polarizing: either you like it or you don’t. I am part of the group that doesn’t. I do own one and only one T-shirt that probably is the tamest design they ever developed. This shirt jumped out at me while walking past their equally wild boutique in the Born neighborhood. In comparison to all the other clothing merchandise that were just painfully too daring in the window, this shirt had a subdue mix of fabrics and prints tossed I with a few sparingly placed shiny embellishments. The bikinis are also quite palatable too since their isn’t much fabric for the far-out screen prints.
I guess it´s not so ironic that the guys who found so much inspiration in the California surfer lifestyle and fashion somehow found loyal and influential friends of the brand right back in the same place… Hollywood California! The Hollywood celebrity set provided a lot of attention for Custo back in the nineties with stars like Charlize Theron and the cast of ‘’Friends’’ regularly wearing the wildly creative t-shirts while working and during their personal time.
MTV jumped on the bandwagon as well being the trendsetter that it is amongst teens and young adults and many of their VJs could be seen in head-to-toe Custo Barcelona outfits. Custo’s wares also had starring roles in big movie productions and was seen on Julia Roberts in ‘’Runaway Bride’’ and Natalie Portman in ‘’Anywhere but Here.’’
Popular female rock stars at the time were also fans like the Dixie Chicks, LeAnn Rimes and Sara McLaughlan. Who didn’t watch ‘’Friends’’ during the nineties and the re-runs long after? I did and remember fondly ‘’Monica’’ (Courtney Cox), ‘’Phoebe’’ (Lisa Kudrow) and ‘’Rachel’’ (Jennifer Aniston) donning those wacky, psychedelic shirts. They stood out for sure and I gather for many people the fashion made such an impression that they wanted to find out ‘’who made that t-shirt?’’ Needless to say with a little help from the entertainment industry Custo Barcelona succeeded in achieving a strong foothold in the broader global market setting the stage for a huge push in international expansion and worldwide recognition.
Custo Barcelona is probably the biggest Barcelona export. There are other Barcelona-based fashion brands but none have a following outside of the city or country like Custo. All across the world in hip cities like New York, Dubai, and Sydney you can find flocks of fashionable people buying their unmistakable designer clothing at one of their 3000 points of sale worldwide.
International expansion has been very lucrative for the brand, with the line currently available in 30 countries and international sales totaling 85% of all company sales. So most likely you probably have a Custo Barcelona store near you in your country of residence or have seen one of their eye-catching boutiques however nothing compares to buying the Catalonian brand in the city where it was brought to life.
On the off chance you don’t make it into one of their 5 boutiques that happen to be in the best shopping locations throughout the city you can always purchase online at their website. And lastly, even if it isn’t your sort of style the accessories are a nice way to go instead of a full blown clothing ensemble.
Custo Barcelona Boutiques
L’illa Diagonal Shopping Mall
933 222 662
Calle Ferran 36
933 426 698
Calle La Rambla 109
934 813 930
Placa Olles 7
932 687 893
Placa del Pi 2
933 042 753