In February, I received a direct message from True Brvnd on Instagram. The message read, “Hey Taylor, my name is Sang – would love to connect with you and D Magazine.” Typically, a message sent to my personal Instagram would end up in a box to the left. However, one click on Trvnd Brvnd’s IG was all the persuasion I needed to respond.
I’ve seen True Brvnd’s signature upside-down Dallas hat for over a year. From La Privada on Jefferson Blvd in Oak Cliff to Dak Prescott at a Dallas Cowboys press conference and Dwight Powell on the walkup to a Dallas Mavericks game, the “SALLAD” logo has taken over the city. It all started with a DM on Instagram.
In April 2020, Sang Truong, founder of True Brvnd, saw the Dallas Cowboys pick quarterback Ben DiNucci on the last day of the 2020 NFL Draft. Troung had followed the player on social media and decided to send him a DM. The message, a friendly welcome to Dallas and gift of free hats, worked.
As fate would have it, Truong was staying across the street from DiNucci’s hotel. Later that night, the two met in-person and immediately hit it off. Ten months after the meeting, DiNucci joined Truong as co-owner of True Brvnd.
Since then, you can find the brand on Trevon Diggs, Tony Pollard, and Michael Gallup. It had an unofficial role on HBO’s Hard Knocks, where DiNucci wore a True Brvnd hat during each episode. Through the power of word of mouth among the city’s athletes and reality television stars, the brand has shipped hats to Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, Sweden, Austria, and Germany.
For Truong, the Boston-born, Dallas-raised streetwear designer, the worldwide success of the brand is the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. “I wanted to create something that truly represents the city and community,” he says. “We have seen a lot of New York- and Los Angeles-based brands, but you don’t see a Dallas-based brand at all.”
Truong pays respect to By Way of Dallas, Hance Taplin’s streetwear brand, which is a must have for anyone invested in local streetwear fashion and culture. The brand partnered with D Magazine on an exclusive capsule line, and has been worn by Erykah Badu, Blue, The Great, and a who’s who of creatives in Dallas. In the years since By Way of Dallas’ debut in 2015, a number of local streetwear brands have arisen to showcase their neighborhood’s culture.
Yet, the Cowboys co-owner links the streetwear brand and hat company to the NFL’s richest team. In November, the brand partnered with Dallas Cowboys Golf Club to sell hats at its Grapevine location. There are conversations about official licensing with the city’s other professional sports teams. DiNucci is confident in the brand’s ability to occupy a novel space at the intersection of streetwear and sports.
“The fact there is a Cowboys player at the forefront of this [brand] shifted the whole aspect of this thing,” he says. “The guys on my team, rallying behind it, has taken it to another level that some of these brands are not able to do because the Cowboys have such a pull down here.”
Valued at $5.7 billion, America’s team is the highest valued sports franchise in the world. But Truong and DiNucci have plans to expand their brand through other large-scale partnerships. Two on their list of potential collaborations are 7-Eleven and Wingstop, global brands founded in North Texas.
Think local, go global is the brand’s ethos. “Let’s go back to the city. Let’s go back to the roots. Let’s show people these businesses and these companies are all from here. Let’s do some crazy collaboration to show what Dallas is all about,” says Truong.
In Dallas, the hats are available to purchase from Daily TX. The streetwear brand and hat company is open to the idea of pop-ups during the summer and welcomes feedback from customers. All you have to do is slide in the DMs.