Dustin Canalin
JUXTAPOZ|Winter 2022
More Than A Game
“Put me in Coach, I’m ready to play!” Listen to John Fogarty’s song, and you know the feeling. If you can’t be on centerfield, you at least want to hear, see—feel it. Dustin Canalin has been in the field and on the court, and through his brand, Trophy Hunting, he’s achieved his lifelong dream to design clothing and create art that welcomes all of us to join the team.

Gwynned Vitello: It looks like your roots growing up next to a park and playing baseball planted some of the seeds for your career.

Dustin Canalin: I played baseball pretty competitively, so that was my first sport. I was pretty good and made the all-star teams, so that really was my first love. I did excel in it and got a lot of gratification from being able to move ahead and get better. I actually played with a couple of guys who went to the majors, like Jimmy Rollins, who’s going to the Hall of Fame, and Dontrelle Willis, who grew up with my brothers. I thought I’d be a professional baseball player growing up.

And then basketball came into the picture.

I always loved basketball, especially the shoes and the culture, which is how I learned about design, through Nike ads, seeing products as a consumer, and thinking, this is so cool. With baseball, it’s the same uniform and not as much style. I used to stylize my shoes in baseball, but our high school coach wanted everything exact; there’s no source of expression. With basketball, you could wear different sneakers or a wristband.

So, even just playing basketball is intrinsically more freeform. The opposite is not as appealing to kids who want to see celebration and expression.

Yeah, so many rules. Certain items are allowed, but then and now, they wanted everyone to be the same: one look, vision and goal. There’s a militaristic approach, but I was there to play the sport and that was my first passion. On the extracurricular side, ha, I was looking at the shoes. I liked them and I wanted to figure out more about the whole look.

So you liked playing basketball too but became enthralled with the entire spirit of the sport. Was it the freedom that was so appealing?

I think it was the culture that was exploding then, like Michael Jordan getting his own commercials. So much contributed to the feeling, just being able to see all the players, because there’s not a lot of them on the court—and commercials for each one. The Warriors were local and played at Alameda College, so we would sneak in and watch practice.

I’d say that Michael Jordan was the first real commercial superstar I remember.

For me, he was the biggest, and knowing what I know now, I see why. He was just always in your face. Every Saturday the Bulls would play, they were the high attraction. They marketed him a lot and his shoes were everywhere. Everything pointed to that as the pinnacle of new and cool. In high school, I wanted to at least have a feel of that.

So, you’re a kid in the Bay Area thinking how much you liked and wanted somehow to be part of the scene. And in the background is your uncle.

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