Dapper Dan the Original Hip Hop Tailor
An ostentatiously well-groomed man, usually one not inured to hard work – Daniel Day aka Dapper Dan…
Back to Africa
After a trip to Africa, Dapper Dan decided street life was no longer a path he wanted to follow. Instead, he choose to open a clothing store, that he called Dapper Dan’s Boutique -at 125th Harlem. The Boutique catered to the hustlers of Harlem, because at that time, they were the ones that could afford to buy the high end clothes that the Boutique was selling.
Starting his business was not easy. Dapper Dan needed to purchase quality clothes from high-end companies. But this proved to be difficult and every store he approached refused to sell him the items, not because he did not have money, but because he was black. For some that would be the end of their dream, but not for Dapper Dan. Having a lot of doors shut on him, seemed to point him to what would turn out to be a successful path.
Path to success
Since luxury companies did not want to sell him their clothes, Dapper Dan figured out how to reproduce logos of companies like XL Vuitton, Fendi, and Gucci. He created a method that allowed him to print on leather, with such high quality that it never really faded and lasted a long time. With his own fabrics and imitation logos he was in business. He hooked up a local legend and good friend Peewee Kirkland, who became his walking billboard – a great source of underground marketing.
Now moving forward more and more people were buying DD clothing – especially those that were hustling in the streets. Similar to our current time, influences and role models came from people that were popular, had the money, cars, women, jewelry, etc. So it was no surprise, that those who were representing the streets and telling stories from the streets, started wearing the same type of clothing. Rappers such as LL Cool J, Eric B & Rakim, The Fat Boys and Salt & Peppa all started to get custom made clothing. Dapper Dan’s services were not limited to just clothing, he also created car interiors, using the popular logo such as Fendi and Gucci – basically, whatever the client wanted, he would create for them.
Similar to Hip Hop producers sampling records, DD’s out grew his local celebrity by becoming well know to a larger audience, which eventually got him sued. It was only a matter of time, he was making clothing for numerous rappers and athletes – which provoked the high end brands to take note and sue. This all lead to him going out of business, but maybe more importantly gave him a legend status in Hip Hop history.
What Dapper Dan did for the Fashion industry
Dapper Dan build a bridge between the urban fashion and the high end fashion. It is interesting how effective street marketing and Hip Hop culture were influencing people all around the world. It was later that brands like Adidas, Puma, Nike, Tommy Hilfiger and Polo recognize the importance of marketing to the urban clientele. More recently, Louis Vuitton has collaborated with Pharrell Williams and Kanye.
Dapper Dan – what is he doing now
DD continues to create unique garments for athletes such as Floyd Mayweather . He was also part of the Fresh Dressed documentary directed by Sacha Jenkins and made an appearance in the Netflix Original series Luke Cage.
Big up and much respect to Dapper Dan!