The current state of menswear might be flooded with influencers, but back in the day there were a chosen few who led and shaped men’s style. Harlem’s legendary bespoke tailor Dapper Dan was one of modern menswear’s founding fathers.
He spent much of the ’80s remixing high-fashion pieces for athletes and celebrities, taking offerings from the likes of Gucci and Louis Vuitton and making something fresh out of them (never mind that he didn’t exactly have permission). And now, the roles have shifted: Dapper Dan and Gucci are opening an atelier together.
Dapper Dan’s Boutique (the original) was shut down in 1992, due to the inevitable issues from his stylish, yet slightly illegal, tweaking and reshaping of other brands’ designs. The new Harlem atelier—a 4,700 square foot brownstone—is quite the flip from the stance brands took on Dap’s designs in the ’90s. Now, he’ll make custom, one-of-a-kind designs for clients using Gucci raw materials, fabrics, prints, embroidered patches, and hardware. (Don’t expect to get any typical Gucci product here; that’s not the point.) The space will be open by appointment only starting January 2018.
Dapper Dan brought together high-fashion and street style in the ’80s, before others were playing around with the intersection of couture and culture. That didn’t go over so hot with the fashion houses of the time. That Gucci is now not only accepting but enabling Dapper Dan’s work is a very good sign. The guy is an innovator, and Gucci has enjoyed the benefits of his halo effect—even referencing one of his old designs in a recent show. It only makes sense to make the relationship official.
Oh, and don’t worry if you can’t make it to Harlem for a custom look by Dap. A Gucci x Dapper Dan capsule will be part of Gucci’s fall 2018 collection, and available in Gucci stores worldwide.