DTA

Johan Esbensen and Travis Barker, two of the individuals behind DTA
Johan Esbensen and Travis Barker, two of the individuals behind DTA

If you’re one of those people who think that nothing good can come out of a gang, then this clothing label might change your mind. DTA, short for Don’t Trust Anyone, is a California-based streetwear clothing brand which didn’t actually start out as a t-shirt manufacturer, but gained its roots from an elementary school gang  back in 1991. The ringleader of the group was Johan ‘Yo’ Esbensen, with Rex Holloway as one of the crew’s members. The gang initially got together because they weren’t so fond of skaters, but a few more years into the brotherhood, DTA matured with regard to its purpose and started to welcome a more diverse mix of individuals into the group – skaters included. Little did Johan and Rex know that the childhood crew they were in would eventually evolve into one of the hottest street labels around, and that they would end up being the President and the Art Director of the label.

Aside from being the name of their former gang, the brand’s name is also a reflection of Johan’s feelings when he first moved from New York to California. He didn’t know anyone at that time, and couldn’t really find people that he felt he could trust – hence, the brand’s name. Of course, Johan’s luck eventually started to change, and ended up being friends with people whom he could easily trust his whole life with. The name of the brand still stuck, however, because of its catchiness, as well as its ability to intrigue people and persuade them into finding out more about the brand. Johan describes “Don’t Trust Anyone” as an ideology for people to dig deeper and question things, and not just take everything at face value.

One of the designs in the HelLA t-shirt collection
One of the designs in the HelLA t-shirt collection

You can’t really talk about DTA without mentioning Rogue Status, the other clothing brand that was conceptualized by Johan and his DTA posse. After DTA took off as a brand of its own, many people started mixing up the two labels. Basically, the same people who are behind Rogue Status are also those who work on DTA: Johan, Rex and Jasper Watts as the main business owners, and Rob Dyrdek and Travis Barker (of Blink 182 fame). Johan explains it as Rogue Status being the main lifestyle and culture label, and DTA being the sort of little brother wanting to step out from the shadows and make a name for himself. And making a name for itself is indeed what DTA is doing, what with its edgy t-shirt designs and bold statements, some of which give alternate definitions for DTA: Don’t Trust Adults, Down To Attack, and Destroy Torment Annihilate, just to name a few. Of course, this doesn’t mean that DTA can’t bask in the success that its “older brother”, Rogue Status, is getting. DTA products can also be found in the Rogue Status store in Venice, California.

Apart from t-shirts, DTA’s merchandise line also includes caps, necklaces and pins, and other knick knacks such as stickers featuring the DTA logo. DTA also recently collaborated with another clothing line, Black Scale, in coming up with a t-shirt collection called HelLA, or Hella LA. The collection was spawned out of an idea, wherein they wanted to showcase important and historical events that happened in Los Angeles. The t-shirt collection presents a sampling of these events, and is meant to educate the public about their city’s history, while still keeping within the urban street vibe.

Aside from the Rogue Status flagship store in Venice, California, DTA merchandise can also be bought from the following online retailers: Karmaloop.com, Atticonlineshop.com, and Shopoverload.com.

As long as Johan and his team have ideas that they want to churn out into t-shirts and other merchandise – which is evidently the case, being that they are driven folk who believe in what they do – then DTA will continue to be a promising brand that brings bold, in-your-face t-shirt designs to the masses.

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