In an interesting twist of fortune that even he couldn’t have been imagined two decades ago, Daniel ‘Dapper Dan’ Day, will be reopening his famous store in Harlem, and this time with the support of Gucci. In the event that you’re not familiar with the early days of hip-hop, you might be asking “Why is this a big deal?”, well here’s why;
For the better part of a decade, between 1982 and 1992, Dapper Dan ran one of hottest (if not the the hottest) shops in Harlem.
Dapper Dan’s Boutique opened in 1982 and built up its reputation by turning high-end fashion into street fashion by cutting up and slicing their logos on his custom made outfits.
Dapper Dan’s was a 24hr meeting ground, where the neighbourhood’s flashiest came in to get suited in their bespoke fashion pieces. It was counterfeiting no doubt, but it was counterfeiting elevated to a whole new level. Dapper Dan reinvented high-end brands such as Gucci, MCM, Louis Vuitton and Fendi, for both the neighbourhood hustlers and African American celebrities. He used their logos (without permission of course) and made them into art. He made them better. His celebrity clientele was one even the likes of Gucci would have been envious of: from the likes of Mike Tyson and Bobby Brown, to hip hop royalty such as Big Daddy Kane, LL Cool J, Eric B. and Rakim. They were all loyal customers of his, and he provided them with styles and sizes the luxury brands didn’t want to offer.
However, a fight broke out between boxers Mike Tyson and Mitch Green in the shop and generated unwanted publicity for Dapper Dan. The brawl drew the attention of the fashion world to the illegal antics of Dapper Dan’s Boutique, that had previously flown under the radar. As you would imagine, the luxury labels began to take legal action against Dan. They eventually forced Dapper Dan’s out of business in 1992.
Fast-forward to 2017, and things have come full circle. One of the same brands that ran Dapper Dan’s Boutique out of business in ’92, have come back to Dapper Dan to help continue to grab the attention of a generation warped in hip-hop, by finding inspiration in a onetime fashion outlaws pieces.
Earlier in the summer, Dapper Dan was all over social media after Gucci unveiled a jacket that looked a bit too similar to one Dapper Dan had designed nearly three decades ago for Olympic sprinter Diane Dixon. The piece created by Dapper Dan in the ‘80s using the Louis Vuitton logo.
The new Gucci jacket, designed by Gucci’s creative director, Alessandro Michele, remakes the Dapper Dan jacket, but with the interlocking double-G Gucci logo in place of the Louis Vuitton markings.
Trust the online media to go mad and demand credit be giving where its due. The resulting backlash forced a response from Gucci, who claimed it was paying “homage” to the legend the is Dapper Dan, rather than making a knockoff of his works.
Now Dapper Dan is fully legit under the Gucci banner and the two have collaborated on a capsule collection that will be produced and sold in Gucci stores worldwide next spring, with Dapper Dan himself the model in Gucci’s new tailoring ad campaign. And most importantly, a second-generation Dapper Dan’s will be opening in Harlem by the end of the year, as a by-appointment boutique for custom commissions, staffed with original Gucci tailors, and Gucci will now be supplying the raw materials.
It took all but twenty-five years, but Dapper Dan is King again.