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I am soooo excited to do this post because I am such a fan of Dapper Dan. Dapper Dan was one of my inspirations growing up with fashion. Here it is, a girl born and raised in Dallas, TX who loves and appreciate the fashion and culture NY brought into her life. I was particularly fascinated with Queens, The Bronx and of course, Harlem. The Bronx and Harlem brought so much creatives and hustlers that how can we not have much respect for those two areas?
My dad and uncle were the first ones to introduce me to the greatness of Dapper Dan. My uncle lived in Chicago but traveled frequently to NYC in the 80s and early 90s. He use to tell me about this black designer who could turn some of his favorite luxury brands into coats, sweats..whatever you name it. I was like man, I have to be able to meet this man one day. I studied so many things about him and what he represented to the people in his community. It’s truly inspiring.
Since i was 16, i traveled a lot between NYC and LA. I am a lover of hip hop and fashion so i always wanted to expand my knowledge way outside of Dallas,Tx lol. If you follow me on Twitter, @MsToscimarie, you would know that I am such a huge fan of Sean “Puffy” Combs. Puff would talk about Dapper Dan and how much he inspired him with fashion. I definitely see so many similarities as far as creative content in Sean John.
Now for those of you who do not live in NYC may not know who Dapper Dan is. Dapper Dan, real name is Daniel Day, is a fashion curator. Born and raised in Harlem, Dap grew up struggling. Wearing shoes down to their soles. Dap’s childhood consist of shoplifting and other “extra curricular activities”. Dapper Dan turned used his passion for gambling towards fashion. He used his skill and his style to draw attention of his community. Dapper Dan opened his shop in Harlem in 1982. Dapper’s landlord was a furrier so Dapper would use the fur scraps to create some amazing custom garments. His clientele mainly consist of gangsters and rappers that wanted to look like the gangster. One of his popular clients was Harlem drug dealer Albert Martinez aka ALPO. Dapper Dan has made at least 15 custom looks or more for ALPO. Dapper Dan called ALPO a “Boy Wonder”. He explained that a “Boy Wonder” is somebody that is fly in Harlem and that is also the leader of the pack. We would definitely call that a “flexer” nowadays.
I was was watching and interview with 125 & Lenox Ave with Sneaker Pawn, He was interviewing Dapper Dan about the his history and the state of black fashion houses. In the interview, Dapper Dan explained that the dynamic of black fashion has changed.
“When you look at what the rappers are wearing now, they are wearing big fashion houses. When we had the opportunity, all the black fashion houses to step up into this game. We didn’t make what we started with.” -Dapper Dan
He also talked about about how rappers would start a clothing line but wear European designer clothes and so would their staff. “They aint even gettin high off their own supply.” However he gave much credit to Diddy for still being one of the only black fashion houses still existing and keeping the tradition going with SEAN JOHN.
Here is the complete interview if you want to check it out!!
Blacks fashion houses
I do agree with Dapper Dan at the lack of legit black fashion houses and the direction that rappers are going with endorsing more European and Italian fashion houses. The thing is, how can we get our community to have more faith in our ability to capitalize at a greater scale? Tracy Reece, Hood by Air, LaQuan Smith and Public School NYC are some black fashion houses that are still making a staple with our youth. I would like to see more POC designing and not just being creative directors of an already well established brand.
Here are more pics of Dapper Dan over the years and what he brought to the fashion industry.