• Solange McKenzie

Dapper Dan: King of Street Luxury

Dapper Dan

Daniel Day, famously known as Dapper Dan, is an African American designer known for his designs using knock-off designer fabrics. Dapper Dan originally planned to be a clothing wholesaler, however at the time he face many difficulties such as racism and prejudice. Because of all he was facing, Dapper Dan decided to create his own lane and designs. By teaching himself to textile print, he was able to create the fabrics used in his designs. Dan's trademark fabrics are modeled after luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Fendi. At first Dapper Dan sold item out of his car, but in the 1980's he was able to open his first store in Harlem, NY. In 1985, Dapper Dan got the opportunity to style rapper LL Cool J which kicked off his association with Hip-Hop street fashion. Dan's designs have been featured on many Hip-Hop artist in the 80's such as Rakim, Salt-N-Pepa, Big Daddy Kane, Bobby Brown and many more.

Salt-N-Pepa in custom Dapper Dan designs

Although Dapper Dan created his own lane in the fashion industry, because he did not have the rights to use the designer logos, he often got raided for counterfeits. This ultimately led to him closing his store, BUT, that didn't stop Dapper Dan. in 1988 Mike Tyson was seen wearing a Fendi jacket designed by Dapper Dan. Fendi sued Dapper Dan which shut him down and blackballed him in the fashion industry. Dan continued his work behind the scenes, styling Floyd Mayweather. In 2017, Dapper Dan found acceptance in the industry again when Gucci designed a jacket based on Dapper Dan's design for Diane Dixon. This caused a major uproar in the fashion world due to Gucci not crediting Dapper Dan for the original design.

Left: Gucci Right: Dapper Dan Original on Diane Dixon

Since then he has done great work with Gucci. Dapper Dan has designed a mens wear line for the luxury fashion house and has opened the first luxury store in Harlem, Dapper Dan of Harlem, in partnership with Gucci. However, the partnership doesn't end there. In 2019, Gucci released a sweater that received a lot of backlash for black-facing. Dapper Dan used his connection with Gucci to call a meeting with the brand to speak out, educate, and find solutions to give-back/support the black community.

-Solange McKenzie

162 views0 comments