Dapper Dan reflects on his 40-year career and his journey to greatness

Dapper Dan is one of the most influential designers to come out of the black community. From his studio set up with Gucci after a high-profile controversy to his recent collaboration with Gap, the Harlem native finally receives his flowers and has the opportunity to share his story from his own lens.

Recently, the style icon and culture staple sat down with Claima Stories co-founder and creative director, Bimma Williams, to discuss in detail her career that spans more than four decades.

Starting his career as an “underground designer”, customizing designs with a dash of inspiration from European luxury brands, Dapper Dan was able to lay the groundwork and follow his vision. Over time, the world caught up with him and could appreciate what he had done. In the interview, he talked about breaking the mold of what was traditionally done and setting a precedent for what is “trendy” in fashion today. “Every brand that came after me took a cookie-cutter approach to fashion. Everyone looks alike. My approach has always been like Burger King, your way.”

Support from the black community, though at times conflicted over the longevity of his work early in his career, has been integral to Dapper Dan’s success over the years. He spoke of the difficulty he faced in getting different layers of black people to buy into his vision and overcoming the doubt placed on his designs. Dan even reflects on EBONY being the first black publication to honor him and his work. “I was only recognized by a major black publication two years ago. EBONY rewarded me. I don’t blame them. But people of color, arrogant black people, didn’t understand what I was doing.”

You can watch the full interview with Dapper Dan and Bimma Williams below:

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