When it comes to Hip-Hop, one of the main components is style, and Dapper Dan is one of Hip-Hop’s original designers.
Between 1982 and 1992, Daniel Day, well-known as Dapper Dan, ran a 24-hour workshop–one of the hottest shops in Harlem.
LL Cool J, Big Daddy Kane, Eric B. and Rakim and KRS-One were some of his clients. Hip-Hop artist and street-hustlers alike, came to Dan’s shop for his unique style of adding Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Fendi and MCM logos to their clothing.
Dan’s shop stiched these luxury-brand logos into leather coats, hats, suits as well as car interiors.
“Dealers took Polaroids of the latest Dapper Dan designs in their wardrobes; those photos reached street hustlers from Philadelphia to Detroit to Los Angeles.” (NewYorkTimes)
Needless to say, once these brands found out about Dan’s shop they sued him out of existence.
Life has now come full circle for Dan, as Gucci revealed they will be working with him to re-open his NYC storefront.
“Litigation by luxury brands ran Dapper Dan’s Boutique out of business in the ’90s, and now here comes a major fashion house trying to grab the attention of a generation steeped in hip-hop by finding inspiration in a onetime fashion outlaw.” (NewYorkTimes)
Steve Stoute is currently the chief executive of the marketing firm Translation. He was also a music executive in the 90’s and former manager of Mary J. Blige and rapper Nas. In an interview with the New York Times, Stoute said,
“I think what Dap did, he actually taught an entire generation how to engage with luxury brands. Luxury brands, at that point, were not for us. They didn’t even have sizing for black people. So every time I walk into Louis Vuitton to buy a pair of sneakers, or buy a pair of pants in my size, I know they’re only doing it because of Dapper Dan.”
Earlier this year, Gucci was under fire for appropriating Dan’s style into their 2017/2018 resort collection.
This post is from Diane Dixon, a gold and silver medal winner. Dan made her the jacket on the left in 1989.
Gucci did respond, giving credit where credit is due and acknowledged Dan’s influence on their designs. On their Instagram account, the brand called their jacket a ‘homage to Dapper Dan.’
“What Dap did was take what those major fashion labels were doing and made them better,” said the rapper Darold Ferguson, Jr., who goes by the stage name ASAP Ferg and whose father, Darold Sr., worked at the boutique in the ’80s. “He taught them how to use their designs in a much more effective way. Dap curated hip-hop culture.” (NewYorkTimes)
Gucci took it a step further and named Dan to star in their Fall/Winter 2017 Men’s Tailoring Campaign.
I think these moves by Gucci definitely give Dan the credit he deserves.
Rarely are people who come up in the ghetto, who have contributed their fair share to Hip-Hop culture, given the recognition they deserve by major labels and brands who are trying to appeal to these same audiences.
The ghetto has made, and continues to have, a major influence in American pop-culture and fashion and it is Dan’s story that illustrates this fact tenfold.