Don’t mess with Harlem.
After a month of releasing its Spring 2017 Campaign entitled “Soul Scene,” Gucci ripped off black fashion legend Dapper Dan. Luckily, the internet went in for the full exposure.
Gucci versus Dapper Dan
Briefly following the “diverse and inclusive” campaign, Gucci presented its Resort 2018 collection in Florence, Italy and sent an identical and iconic look to Harlem-born and bred Dapper Dan’s designs down the runway. People of the Internet and woke fashion editors took offense and voiced their concerns on their social media accounts. From Instagram posts to Twitter rants, people stood by their Dapper Dan.
Bish stole my look
Since then, the New York Times has reported that a spokesperson from Gucci has tried to reach out to Dapper Dan. But his team has declined to speak to anyone. #unbothered #comeharder.
“Bish” stole my look! Give credit to @dapperdanharlem He did it FIRST in 1989! #gucci #GucciRipOff Now they get it! Long time overdue! @iamaprilwalker @tammyfordagency #DesignerWars #louisvuitton #LouisVuittonMinkJacket #dianedixonolympian @usmarothonmann @677flycreative @pam_boy @spaceodditykelly @i_am_audrey_ #dapperdanharlem @tom.prior @balleralert @fameolousent_
Don’t mess with Harlem
Dapper Dan is known as one of Harlem’s most recognized high-fashion designers who used brand logos like Louis Vuitton, etc to remix and create custom pieces for rappers, including LL Cool J, Run DMC, and more. He was the hip-hop tailor the culture needed that had a boutique located on 125th street in the early 80s.
Our argument on this is not so much that Gucci’s creative director Alessandro Michele blatantly copied such an iconic look, it was that he copied one of the only African-American designers who has been historically excluded from high-fashion in the first place. Back in the ’80s, Dapper Dan couldn’t even go to Madison Avenue to buy Gucci without being racially profiled.
It’s a slap in the face to a culture who continues to experience appropriation in the age of the Internet. People need to wake up. There’s a whole documentary called “FRESHED DRESSED” that showcases how much of an influence Dapper Dan was on a rap culture. Today, there are very few high-fashion streetwear boutiques in Harlem. Tailors, forget it! Go to dingy dry cleaners. But I want to know how will we document and support our own in real- time when it matters the most? Don’t wait for the hype, be the HYPE.
Dapper Dan and the case of Gucci should teach us all about truly documenting cultural talent in the mainstream channels we have access to on the internet and beyond. We shouldn’t wait for the masses or the boardroom executives to give the green light. We should give praises when it is due and create the hype when issa vibe.