Hip Hop Global: Original Videos and Journals

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Life and Legacy of Dapper Dan

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Earlier this year, at the annual Met Gala, the astoundingly gorgeous Ashely Graham walked the red carpet sporting a massively awesome Gucci blazer designed by hip hop fashion royalty, Dapper Dan.

Born in Harlem in 1944, Daniel Day was already a notable gambler by the time he was thirteen years old. The money he was able to obtain from his street hustles and earned at his journalism job, ultimately led to his fashion start up. Selling shoplifted items out of the trunk of his car. By 1982, he was able to open Dapper Dan’s Boutique on 125th street between Madison and Fifth Avenue. It was located just a few blocks from where Day grew up.

His original plan was to become a wholesaler, but Day consistently encountered problems while attempting to find businesses that would take him seriously. Having to pave his way from an early age, Day did what any successful entrepreneur does when faced with adversity. He found an unconventional solution to his rather annoying problem. Hitting the pavement, the kid from Harlem took it upon himself to learn everything he could about the global fashion industry, from business development to design.

The ‘Dapper’ in Dapper Dan

Part of his self-education was learning how to print textiles. Being an ambitious risk taker, he used bootleg fabrics to make high-fashion prints. Often ripping off the symbology and iconography of massively popular brands. Soon, Daniel Day truly grew into his now infamous persona, Dapper Dan. Even though he was not the first person to sell back alley merchandise with bootleg branding. He was one of the first to elevate them to a whole new level. The “dapper” in his name is fully intentional; creating custom designs for his increasingly growing clientele. Dapper Dan built an exclusive, high-fashion brand.

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