The Godfather of custom drip holds Gucci accountable for us all.
When Dapper Dan speaks, the hood listens.
The OG tailor has finally spoken out about the Gucci Blackface Balaclava shirt fiasco and it was worth the wait.
“I am a black man before I am a brand. Another fashion house has gotten it outrageously wrong. There is no excuse nor apology that can erae this kind of insult. The CEO of Gucci has agreed to come from Italy to Harlem this week to meet with me, along with members of the community and other industry leaders. There cannot be inclusivity without accountability. I will hold everyone accountable.”
Daniel “Dapper Dan” Day is the Harlem atelier that draped the street legends and rap star of the eighties in luxury. From Big Daddy Kane to Mike Tyson, his unforgettable customs are the trendiest usage of brands like Gucci, Fendi, Louis Vuitton, and MCM.
Recently, Gucci was outed for selling a mock turtleneck shirt hybrid featuring blackface. It is on the heels of a new partnership with “Dap” where the streetwear legend’s designs are commissioned by Gucci.
Since the controversy, Spike Lee, T.I. and adherents to the culture have issued a boycott against the brand. Similarly, Prada released a figure reminiscent of a minstrel meets monkey that caught the ire of the community as well.
Changing Of The Guard
Gucci’s acceptance of Dapper Dan for many came late. He was already a staple of hip hop and the underworld and his name’s legendary in every hood.
Aligning with a designer so entrenched in the fabric of black culture makes Gucci’s mistake so astonishing. Back in late 2017, the Harlem designer inked a deal with Gucci to finally give credit to Mr. Day.
In May 2017, at a cruise collection show in Florence, Italy, Alessandro Michele, the creative director of Gucci attempted a finesse. He sent out a mink jacket that was a remake of one Mr. Day had designed for the Olympian Diane Dixon in 1989. The most significant change was that the Louis Vuitton-logo puff sleeves of the original had been converted into Gucci Gs.
The internet let Gucci have it and the label of cultural appropriation began to taint the collection. Although Gucci claimed it was an homage to Day, the world thought true respect would come with a check. Gucci finally agreed.
In the case of the blackface, what is worse, a balaclava is a garment associated with crime. It covers the face and denotes anonymity for those looking to do harm.
Washington, D.C. law already bans individuals — ages 16 and up — from wearing the masks in public under certain circumstances, such as while committing a crime or with “the intent to intimidate, threaten, abuse or harass any other person.” This is according to The Office of the Attorney General, which handles juvenile and misdemeanor cases in the District.
Many youth gangs have been associated with the face covering.
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The pairing with blackface is even deeper as it melds two stereotypes.
The hip hop community and Black America are waking up and the reality that luxury fashion houses still don’t get it is sinking in. However, it is at a terrible time for the Dapper Dan brand. His willingness to forgo profit for a purpose is admirable and will be celebrated as he has always been.