The world is constantly in awe of and inspired by the work of the iconic Dapper Dan. It excites me to witness that same passion and creativity in the work of his grandson, Akil Loving. I had the pleasure of going LIVE with Akil Monday night on Instagram where we discussed his latest feature in the New York Times, his passion for design, his love for 3-D printing and so much more.
Growing up in Harlem, he was surrounded by the style, culture and Dapper Dan's great influence and impact on fashion. Exposed to the world of fashion at the early age of 5, Akil learned and studied the techniques his grandfather taught him.
AKIL: "Cutting patterns was the biggest learning curve for me. It's a different beast."
We laughed about his stories of trial and error when it came to making a few of his first pieces in his kitchen. After overcoming this challenge and mastering the art of pattern cutting, he excelled in creating projects of his own as well as assisting Dapper Dan. Creating many of the looks we see on the red carpet and huge events like the Met Gala. I asked him one of the hardest questions that any designer would hesitate on, "what's your favorite design that you've made to-date?" He expressed that each design tops the last and his self-approval comes from that moment of this is it, this is the one. We also chatted about his preference in design and his view on what it really means to be considered "fashionable."
AKIL: "I like shit that's cool but makes your life easier. Something that serves its purpose. My grandfather always says you're not dressed fashionable unless it suits the occasion. You know? You could have the waviest streetwear fit ever but if it's a formal gathering, then you're not fly."
Humble as ever, Akil expressed his excitement and appreciation for the acknowledgment from NY Times quoting "It was a very nice surprise. It's cool to get recognition because I'm usually the guy behind the scenes." It was definitely well-deserved Akil! Reading the title alone "Dapper Dan's Grandson Sews His Own Gucci" was mind blowing. It was dope to not only recognize that talent is in the blood but that our generation does indeed have our very own "Dapper Dan" in a creative sense which just so happens to be his grandson. There is a bloodline within fashion and the connection doesn't always have to be family related but through creativity, style and passion. This is inspiring to all creatives in fashion because it demonstrates a historic flow of evolving culture within fashion. Akil is using his passion, gift and talent to aim beyond the meter and step outside of the box of society's definition of a designer.
AKIL: "I see when it comes to fashion, a lot of brands and a lot of people do shit that is so easily replicated and it doesn't really serve any purpose besides looking cool. It's all about aesthetics. It's not about quality anymore. I'd rather make that pair of jeans that you can literally wear everyday until they fall apart opposed to that t-shirt you can wear, take the pic for insta and that's it."
Akil Loving with grandfather and mentor Dapper Dan
Intrigued by overall design, Akil is very inspired by industrial designer Dieter Rams. So inspired that he even informed Dapper Dan about the luxury of 3-D printing. He shared with me that there are so many opportunities in 3-D design and that has sparked his interest among other areas such as furniture design. That's only a piece of what he plans on tapping into. Although I know that the mind of a creative is very complex, I was amazed and extremely inspired by this response.
AKIL: "I want to make the world around me a more cooler and beautiful place. I want to create my world around me when it comes to clothes, jewelry, accessories... no matter what it is."
This conversation was exceptionally inspiring especially in the midst of the dark and discouraging time that we're in right now. It was a much needed reminder to keep going, keep persevering and to keep creating. Fashion is constantly changing and is in consistent need of fresh, innovative ideas. The main objective is to keep each other (designers, wardrobe stylists, style bloggers, etc.) creatively inspired and motivated. I'm excited to continue to watch Akil grow within the fashion industry but even more excited to see how his skills will add to the evolution of fashion. Enjoy some of the designer's looks below. Sketch to finished look.
Designs by Akil Loving