Pharrell’s BBC, Kanye’s “Hip-Hop Shirt,” rap’s affinity for classy shades and belts can all trace their lineage to Dapper Dan. Hell, for better or worse, rappers owe all the “Versace” remixes to Dan’s influence since he’s the one who helped make the names of European fashion labels a mainstay in music. In a feature originally included in Sneaker Freaker’s Issue 27, the Harlem originator sits to discuss his storied history in rap and his return to the scene after years away.
“Earlier this year Jay-Z’s Life+Times YouTube channel popped up with a brilliant interview to kick-off the launch of Dap’s new site, dapperdanofharlem.com. Still a natty dresser, hip hop’s original gentleman was back in the limelight and loving it…
“It’s a contradiction, but Dapper Dan is one of street couture’s most influential and most mythical characters. 20 years of flying way below the radar might have dulled his stature amongst young folk who barely recall the previous day’s blog roll, but it has also bestowed an enigmatic, almost grandfatherly imprint upon his stage name. Judging by the recent hashtag trail, he is once again being name-checked and courted by the new school of New York street aristocracy.
“Dapper Dan changed fashion forever. In fact, his legacy runs deeper now than it did even at the height of his outré fame. Intimidated and threatened by the implications of hip hop’s glowing admiration in the 80s, the European fashion houses now actively court the affection of Pharrell and Jay-Z. The same brands that once tried to put him out of business now owe him a monumental debt.”
Read the full interview, “The Hip Hop Tailor Of Harlem,” and view the gallery of images at Sneaker Freaker.