Dapper Dan, the Harlem-based bootleg designer famous for dressing famous figures in the 80s (and now for his association with Gucci) has spoken about his relationship with the label and the importance of having diverse voices involved in the design process.
He also relates how, after realising the intentions of the label’s creative director, Alessandro Michele, were good, he took it upon himself to highlight issues surrounding the apparent appropriation. “This is what transpires with culture,” he says: “When people appropriate our culture, they make mistakes.”
“It’s easy for somebody else to appropriate something that belongs to you and make a mistake in how they use it. So my approach to them was like, you’ve gotta have us in the room, you know? We’ve gotta be a part of this so things like this, they don’t happen.”
Dan revealed his first, collaborative collection with Gucci last year, after the label helped him to reopen his Harlem studio, which was shut down in 1992.
The designer also acknowledges Gucci’s Changemakers program – which he’s helped develop – in the Breakfast Club interview, praising the program’s positive influence on fashion and diversity through funding for hiring and community schemes. “See if it's something you agree with,” he says, “and if you agree with it, we're going to run with this and keep running with it, and you know what we're going to do next? We're taking it to the rest of the brands.”