America’s fashion industry has been through various ups and downs over the past few decades but there’s no denying that the glamour world is at it’s very peak rightvnow and in the forecentre is – Dapper Dan.
It wasn’t always this way though. Dan immerged in the fashion scene during the early ’70s and worked his way to the top in a capitalistic society.
After spending his summer in Africa as a part of his graduate degree, he returned to his hometown ‘Harlem’ and ended up opening a clothing store of his own. Albeit, Dapper went through a lot of setbacks and had to act street-smart to become the fashion icon he is today.
Being an African-American in a country which just had abolished laws on segregation, paved the path for Dapper to think out of the box and survive creatively.
His characteristic included adding a hip hop touch to already established stale clothings of the ’70s. Surprisingly going through a creative block wasn’t in the fashion icon’s vocabulary either and he kept producing clothes back-to-back and that to in a mere vehicle, his car!
Such a thriving business led by the man eventually convinced him to own an actual store and let go of his ‘car’ days.
The name of the legendary shop that started it all was, Dapper Dan’s Boutique. It was located on 125th Street between Madison and Fifth Avenues, opened in 1982, and at times was open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
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Considering his ethnicity, Dapper didn’t get along with other business owners as most refused to provide him the textile equipments he desperately needed. Leading Dapper to work with the limited tools he had and eventually secure a partnership with Gucci decades later.
Dapper Dan hasn’t shied away from the fact that he credits his creativity on being ‘black‘. Often speaking of the appropriation of black culture and how black leaders are have always been sidelined. Whether it be fashion or music. Black artists have been discredited for years on end now is what the designer claims.
Bevy Smith, a revered TV personality had similar thoughts to share:
“The biggest problem for Black people is when we are entering [the] fashion [industry] we don’t have that legacy money,”
Fast forward, today – Dapper Dan is a renowned designer and has released countless clothings lines in partnership with Gucci while he owns a store of his own at his hometown, Harlem.
“It’s about the personality of the individual,” he explained. “If you can’t generate enough excitement to push your brand from a grassroots level then you’re going to have to lean on someone else.”
Overall, Dapper’s tale is an inspiring one and the artist wishes to lay emphasis on how much creativity matters in such an industry more than just mere connections!