Daniel “Dapper Dan” Day is a man with many options – and, after decades of being pushed out of the luxury scene by major fashion houses, he’s happy to weigh them all.
“I’m in a really magical place in terms of transitioning from where I was to what I’m seeing now,” Day told BoF.
Day was speaking Thursday night at Marc Jacobs’s Madison Avenue store in New York at an event hosted by LVMH in celebration of Black History Month and the 50th anniversary of hip-hop music.
In a chat with television and radio personality Rocsi Diaz, Day discussed everything from his career dressing rappers like LL Cool J and Rakim to his opinion on Louis Vuitton’s appointment of Pharrell Williams as men’s creative director.
“When it comes to translating culture, one side of the coin is fashion and the other side is music,” Day said. “Pharrell is both sides of the coin, so I’m excited to see what he does. He has a huge platform and I’m rooting for him.”
The Harlem couturier became known as the “King of Knockoffs” in the 1980s and 1990s when fashion houses sued and helped orchestrate raids on his shop over designs that played with designer logos and designs. Lux. At the same time, Day’s creations were frequently referenced in mainstream fashion, although designers for major brands rarely acknowledged his influence.
After Gucci was accused of copying a Day design in 2017, the Kering-owned brand funded the revival of his business and tapped him to head its diversity council. He has since collaborated with The Gap and been the subject of profiles in several fashion publications.
Day describes fashion’s recent fixation on giving him his proverbial flowers – Corey Smith, head of diversity and inclusion at LVMH North America, gifted Day a bottle of Moët Hennessy among other items after his conversation with Diaz – how to get to “Pearly Gates.”
Since the height of Day’s collaboration with Gucci, the industry as a whole has taken public steps to embrace black designers and talent more broadly, especially in the aftermath of the social justice riots of 2020. This year, for the first time, LVMH plans to host a year-long lineup, including an activation at Art Basel in Miami, to celebrate black history and hip-hop’s influence on fashion. Like many of its peers, the company has committed to interviewing and hiring more people of color for senior-level positions; it’s also targeting $1 billion in annual spending on “diversified ownership businesses,” Smith said.
“Understanding what (Day) went through to be embraced in this industry really helps guide me in terms of the strategy I need to define to help the next generation,” said Smith.
As for what a long-term partnership between Day and LVMH could look like, Smith said Day “is a free agent” and the pair were “working”.
In an email, Friday Smith noted that “while there is interest, LVMH and Dapper Dan are not working on any collaborations at this time.”
Disclosure: LVMH is part of a group of investors who together hold a minority stake in The Business of Fashion. All investors signed shareholder documentation guaranteeing full editorial independence from the BoF.