Everyone knows the name Dapper Dan and if you don’t, you need to get your life! This is a man who has opened the doors to luxury fashion for the Hip Hop culture. Growing up in a home that openly spoke on the ugly reality of what society saw as right opened his eyes to the change desperately needed not only in the fashion industry but in this world. Struggle and the streets of Harlem is what made him the passionate talented LEGENDARY designer he is today.
Success is never handed to anyone and there’s always a starting point to your path. This king started out by selling clothes out of the trunk of his car. In ‘82 he opened Dapper Dan’s boutique on E. 125th Street in the heart of Harlem. Catering to the look needed in Hip Hop, he created statement pieces using luxury logos BUT added flavor.
Eric B & Rakim wearing customed jackets by Dapper Dan “Follow the leader” ‘88 album
Working with industry artists like Salt N Peppa, LL Cool J, Eric B and Rakim and one of my favorites in the game Mary J Blige, he caught the attention of the same big brands that wouldn’t even acknowledge his potential early in his career. Some brands tried to talk business and others seeked opportunity in taking him out of business. He was sued and forced to shut down his boutique. It’s a funny thing that whenever a black man becomes “competition,” he has to be taken down. But the fact of this matter is, those brands tried to cut our culture off by any means. Their brand had no intent, no interest in serving our people. (They still don’t.) All of these high-end brands were never made for our people and that is why I find Dapper Dan to be amazing. This man literally did it for the culture. He used these logos and created REAL statement pieces. Those big brands thought they were doing something and King made them realize otherwise. Dapper Dan showed every brand how it was really supposed to be done by creating something their minds couldn’t touch. Pieces that made Hip Hop what it was and what it is today. They could never ! That is exactly why they were in such rage. The same rage that led them to go after this man legally and take away what was his. But that didn’t keep him down.
WHAT GOD GOT FOR YOU, IS FOR YOU.
Regardless of the setback, Dapper Dan hasn’t lost his touch. The irony of this all is that “big brands” overlooked his genius back then but are looking to him for inspiration today. His collaboration with Gucci is a huge thing and I find it to be validation of the point “what God has for you is for you.” His gift in designing cannot go unnoticed or taken lightly. Gucci knows wussup. They even used a spin-off of his design he created in ‘89 for Olympian Diane Dixon.
I know there’s so much controversy going on about Gucci’s latest design that appears to be inspired by black face. It puzzles me as to why a designer would even feel the need to create such look. Let’s be real, who’s wearing that? What runway would it be necessary to see that on and in what aspect of fashion was that needed? This confirms their desperate need of Dapper Dan’s expertise and guidance. At 212 Day, he brought this up in conversation and expressed his disappointment. He stands for us and will be meeting with the CEO of Gucci to discuss the matter.
Dapper Dan’s passion is built on not only his love for fashion but for our culture and the need for us to rise. Unfortunately we live in a world with a societal structure that is designed for us to fail. There is a path set up that is intended to lead us to failure, whether it be getting caught up in the streets, turning to drugs, etc. But we have to overcome all that and do our thing. One of my favorite quotes from Dapper Dan’s MTV interview with A$AP Ferg is “I ain’t gone be serving crack on the corner. Ima be making crack outfits.” As a style blogger and wardrobe stylist who is eager to break a few doors down myself, I am nothing short of inspired. Forget all these other “big brands,” HIS BRAND defines Hip Hop culture. He is the definition of fashion, designer, path paver and living legend.