Forged in Fire: Inside the Iron Rose Collection

  • By Kristina Cagney

Forged in Fire: Inside the Iron Rose Collection

A few months ago, I had an absolutely perfect idea that I was over the moon about: launch a Doughnuts & Deadlifts Sailor Jerry themed collection, made up of a DNDL tattoo flash, designed by artists who have tattooed me over the years. Although wonderful in theory, the idea fell through faster than I could blink, as getting five tattoo artists on the same page and same schedule is next to impossible.

I felt incredibly defeated once I realized the collection would never come to fruition as I initially intended. I started receiving sketches from some of the best tattoo artists in the world, and while they were all beautiful, they were not cohesive from artist to artist, and no one’s timelines were lining up. At a certain point, I actually said to myself, “it’s a shame I shelled out all this money for incredible design work that will never be seen or used”. But me being me, I couldn’t renege on the project given how much effort had already gone into it, both by us and the artists.

So instead of scrapping the entire project, I changed my mindset… rather than looking at all the designs as ONE collection, I looked at them one by one in order to appreciate them as individual pieces of art. THAT is when everything changed and I figured out how to make this project work. Instead of one huge, insane tattoo flash collection, we are essentially going to roll out mini collections over the course of 2018, each featuring an artist who collaborated on this with us.

The Iron Rose Collection, by Shaun Topper, is being served up first for a plethora of reasons that I will get to here shortly after I introduce Shaun.

Mr. Shaun Topper of Captured Tattoo in Orange County is one of the most sought after tattooers in the country. Shaun is not only an incredible artist, but he is also a great person with a wonderful sense of humor and good head on his shoulders. He’s a visual artist and painter in his free time, and he also has quite the boxing hobby. I have been lucky enough to be tattooed by Shaun twice now. Since I know most people will never get to say this, this is my way of delivering a hand drawn piece by Shaun Topper for you to wear on your body (with a little less commitment than a tattoo).

[Interlude by GM, Sarah:] Aside from Shaun being Shaun, we jumped on this design first because we connected with the imagery so deeply. As the blacksmiths of our own lives, each day we go to work to forge new futures for our bodies, minds, and souls. To us, the Iron Rose symbolizes the beauty we find in strength and struggle. Thus, this collection is intended to serve as a reminder that your mental and physical fortitude are something to celebrate. [Now handing the mic back off to Krissy.]

Now let’s talk color palette (surprise! It’s relevant to why we’re releasing Iron Rose first). This is one of the first times I have done “the obvious” for DNDL. I had two options for the color palette: choose something that doesn’t make sense in an attempt to be even edgier, or I could choose what makes perfect sense for the theme of the collection. Given that this collection is a little “out there” for us and we didn’t play it safe at all with the imagery, I decided to choose a color palette that pairs logically with the designs. Thus, this collection is made up of maroons, pinks, blushes, nudes, grays, mauves, and black.

And so the rationale behind the timing of this release was also influenced by, you guessed it, a certain holiday that is on the horizon. We have never been a brand that does holiday releases; we usually just post holiday themed doughnuts for your viewing pleasure as opposed to selling holiday apparel for your wearing pleasure. But this time we meet you guys halfway: we decided to release Iron Rose in time to arrive for Valentine’s Day, since we understand the importance of matching your gym outfit to your holiday Insta-posts.

Now back to the design process. You will see the rose and anvil on every piece in this collection in some capacity. I had so much fun with print placements since it’s the first in house line we’ve done with visuals other than typography and logos. Pairing the rose and anvil with the typical loud and weird branding that everyone loves DNDL for was a new and fun task. This is also the first time we have attempted side and low back print placements, and I am beyond thrilled with the result. I believe the Iron Rose Collection truly is delivering something never-before-seen in the fitness world. DNDL IS A LIFESTYLE, and I want our apparel to convey that.

Here's a super cool look inside the process of creating this collection, filmed and produced by the Stanton Brothers.


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