Dapper Dan is a designer known for redefining some of the most iconic labels within fashion. Years before luxury brand Louis Vuitton even released a ready-to-wear collection, the Harlem-based designer sampled the house’s iconic logos to make custom garments that were worn by the most prolific rappers, hustlers, and celebs in New York during the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. Since then, Dapper Dan’s work has influenced the output of high fashion labels like Balenciaga, has been referenced by Supreme, inspired a new generation of luxury bootleggers, and has recently led to him becoming the first Black designer to receive a CFDA Lifetime Achievement Award. Dapper Dan did all of this without ever presenting a runway show.
So what’s next for Dapper Dan? A collaboration with Gap.
“Gap is like pizza, everybody eats pizza. And everybody at some point or another is going to bring a pie home,” Dapper Dan tells Complex. “That’s what Gap represents. It represents that part of food that we all relate to. Gap speaks to all of us, but it’s a part of who I am and who we all are. So I love that.”
Dapper Dan headlines Gap’s Spring 2022 campaign titled “American Dream,” which seeks to celebrate individuals who have shaped culture by carving their own paths. Alongside Dapper Dan, the campaign includes a diverse roster of creatives such as Chito—a graffiti artist whose unique airbrush work has led to collaborations with brands such as Arc’teryx, Supreme, and Givenchy. The campaign’s video is narrated by Kai-Isaiah Jamal, a poet and activist who is also the first Black transgender model to ever walk for Louis Vuitton. “American Dream” follows in the footsteps of other iconic Gap commercials such as LL Cool J’s 1999 ad where the rapper promoted Gap’s easy fit jeans while sneaking in a Fubu hat, which helped popularize the Black-owned fashion brand nationwide. Hip-hop’s relationship with Gap has only grown since. Fast forward to today and Kanye West is architecting a new creative vision for Gap while engineering collaborations for the brand with Balenciaga. Dapper Dan sees his collaboration as a part of that lineage of Black creative influence.