Back like he never left, Dapper Dan has once again seen his designs outfit some of hip hop’s most fashionable. There have been recent sightings of fly guys like Puff Daddy, DJ Khaled and A$AP Rocky stunting in pieces from the urban legend’s recently launched collection. Released in partnership with Gucci, the collection, as well as the re-opening of Dan’s famed Harlem studio and the public acknowledgment of his influence, was long overdue. However, at a time when examples of cultural appropriation have been popping up just about everywhere, the Dapper one’s inclusion into the Gucci Gang was a timely coup for the culture.
The storied fashion house linking up with the legendary tailor was, in part, due to the behind-the-scenes power plays of Steve Stoute. REVOLT caught up with the author of The Tanning of America: How Hip-Hop Created a Culture That Rewrote the Rules of the New Economy as he accompanied Dapper down the Black Carpet of the Roc Nation Pre-Grammy Brunch. There, he spoke on the importance of Gucci connecting with Dapper Dan and the culture finally getting its just due.
“I need - like we all need - to see icons get treated correctly,” said the Translation founder and CEO. “Because if not, then the next young guy just says ‘I don’t want to be a designer, because if Dapper Dan got jerked, look at what’s going to happen to me.’” He added, “That’s how you keep pushing culture forward, with optimism.”
Echoing themes found throughout JAY-Z’s critically-acclaimed 4:44, Stoute believes that the progressive moves by leaders in hip hop can be beneficial for the culture as a whole. “You need, whether it be Puff or Jay or Nas or humbly myself, to keep going, so that other people coming behind can say that they want to do that too,” he said.
The fashion world hasn’t been the only industry where mavericks are making moves that could potentially result in the leveling of the playing field for black creatives. Other disciplines are also showing such strides.
The excitement bubbling ahead of the theatrical release of Marvel’s Black Panther, in combination with the reshaping of television taking place involving leading ladies such as Issa Rae, Shonda Rhimes, Tracee Ellis Ross and others, as well as the Grammy Awards nominating hip hop and r&b in several major categories, can all be identified as possible signs that we’re experiencing a changing of the guards.
Not at all surprised, Stoute views the many trailblazing advancements happening from within our culture as more of a reminder, than anything else. “We always knew this,” he said. “We been shining. I’m proud to see the advancements that it is making as far as the penetration from mainstream to global.”