Theres nothing I love more than scanning old pictures, looking at the clothes, hair-styles, and confident poses. The 80s are an archetype to all of this, thanks to one man: DAPPER DAN
Born Daniel Day on August 8, 1944, ‘Dapper Dan’ was raised in Harlem, New York on 129th and Lexington Avenue. As a child he developed an affinity for clothing and gambling, and by the age of thirteen his gambling skills developed into a profitable hobby that carried on into his adult years. In the 1960s, deciding to turn his life around, Dan toured Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Egypt, and Tanzania through the Urban League chapter of NYC. When Day returned to New York in 1974, he decided to pursue the business of fashion, selling stolen items from the trunk of his car.
His plan to purchase and sale fashions from wholesalers was thwarted abruptly when he faced immediate discrimination from textile and fur distributors in NYC. He decided to teach himself as much as he could about designing clothes so that he could sell his own designs. He taught himself textile printing, inventing a new process for screen printing Gucci, Fendi, and Louis Vuitton logos onto leather.
In 1982 Dapper Dan’s Boutique opened on 125th street between Madison and Fifth Avenue. The boutique was open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
As hiphop began to cement itself in the mainstream, so did crack cocaine dealing; Dapper Dan’s Fashions catered to and dressed some of the most famous faces from both worlds in his custom pieces. The clientele included LL Cool J, Eric B. & Rakim, Alpo Martinez (infamous Harlem drug dealer), Salt N Pepa, Run DMC, Mike Tyson, Bobby Brown, The Fat Boys, Diane Dixon (track star), Big Daddy Kane, and many more.
August of 2019 during my ‘Black As Eastcoast’ tour, in Harlem I walked from the Audubon Ballroom, to Strivers Row, then down to Mintons, and back up Malcolm X Blvd…and i RANDOMLY saw MR. DAPPER DAN posted and looking AMAZING!… i spanned out and made a fool of myself lol.
In 1988 Mike Tyson and Mitch Green, another professional boxer, got into a fight outside the store on 125th street, putting the store in the spotlight. After Mike Tyson was photographed wearing a "knock off" Fendi jacket from Dapper Dan, when he was questioned by the ‘New York Times’ about the custom piece he described the store as one that catered to performers 24 hours a day; providing more attention to the store, ultimately the major fashion houses who’s logos had been illegally reproduced. In 1992, after legal action by Fendi and then-U.S. Attorney Sonia Sotomayor, Dapper Dan's Fashions was shut down for good.
For decades he would be shunned by the mainstream fashion world, however he continued to work underground as a designer for select clientele.
In mid-2017 Gucci's creative director Alessandro Michele designed a jacket very similar to a well-known Dapper Dan design for Diane Dixon in 1989. The original was a fur-lined jacket with balloon sleeves covered in the Louis Vuitton logo, which Alessandro Michele replaced with the double-G Gucci logo. Social media reacted when Dixon shared a photo of the Gucci jacket next to her in the original one, with Dixon requesting that Dapper Dan get credit for his original piece. Prompting the CEO of Gucci to reach out to Dan for a partnership.
In 2018 he opened the first luxury fashion house in Harlem, Dapper Dan of Harlem.
His autobiography is scheduled to be released in 2019.
Original Dapper Dan GUCCI design