Dapper Dan Defends Decision To Meet With Gucci

"If anyone should be boycotted it's the brands that won't give our young people an opportunity to learn."

Gucci's latest initiatives to eliminate their cultural ignorance were helped brought together by Dapper Dan, a decision that has left the designer at throws of critics who aren't thrilled about the Harlem legend working with the luxury brand.

On Saturday (Feb. 16) Dan, born Daniel Day, explained why he met with Gucci's President and CEO Marco Bizzarri and what it could mean for the future of young black designers.

"We have to learn to earn," he said in a statement on Instagram. "What happened to all the Black fashion brands that failed since the '80s? Was it because they didn't get Black support, or was it because they didn't know the business? Do you expect our young Black designers to spend 30+ years mastering fashion by teaching themselves as I did? How do you expect them to compete with big brands if they don't really know the business? They need jobs and internships within these big brands so that they can learn and they branch out on their own."

 

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Dan's history with Gucci has always been a complex one. Known for his custom designs for street legends like Alpo Martinez and rappers like Jay-Z, Eric B. and Rakim and Cam'ron, Dan is credited with bringing luxury to hip-hop culture. It took over two decades for Gucci and other brands to acknowledge his influence. In 2017, Dan partnered with the brand for a new menswear line and Harlem saw The Dapper Dan Atelier Studio as the first luxury house fashion store in 2018.

But it wasn't until figures like 50 Cent slammed the designer over his business ties with the brand which seemed like a victory just last year to the public. In his statement to his critics, Dan explained why the meeting was bigger than his brand and how Gucci's new initiative will benefit aspiring designers.

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"Many young people think a t-shirt design with a logo is a fashion business when in reality the business of fashion is so much broader and more complex than that," he added. "I studied my a** off to master this business. Live your dream. Don't let other people's feelings stop you. Take advantage of the chance to learn. All you haters get out the way for young people. Embrace change. For those that want to continue to hate Gucci and boycott, you are entitled to do as you please. But if anyone should be boycotted it's the brands that won't give our young people an opportunity to learn."

Gucci's four new initiatives include hiring global and regional directors for diversity and inclusion, setting up a multicultural design scholarship program, the launch of a diversity and inclusivity awareness program and launching a global exchange program.

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Gucci And Dapper Dan Announce $5M Programming Aimed At Diversity And Inclusion

February was a difficult month for luxury brand Gucci. The legendary fashion house pulled a balaclava sweater from physical and online stores that many deemed disrespectful. The black sweater with a red print around the mouth area was deemed by many as reminiscent of blackface.

With the help of Dapper Dan and other notable celebrities, Gucci is trying to make things right. They recently announced their new Changemakers Council, which according to reports will feature a board that will work together to select inclusive elements of programming. Besides the Harlem designer and Gucci collaborator, DeRay McKesson, will.i.am, writer/activist Brittany Packnett and many more will be part of the Council.

Through this new Gucci Changemakers initiative, the fashion brand and the designer will also introduce the Changemakers Scholarship, which awards a $20,000 grant to selected students over the course of four years. They will also implement the Changemakers Fund, which "is a $5 million fund that will invest in community-based programs, particularly those helping communities of color, in cities across the U.S."

“As a partner, I am proud to work with Gucci and other community leaders to help guide programs that will create meaningful impact for the Black community and fashion as a whole,” Dapper Dan said in a statement regarding the new project. “It is imperative that we have a seat at the table to say how we should be represented and reimagined. Through our work together, Gucci is in a position to lead the overall industry toward becoming a better more inclusive one.”

 

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Virgil Abloh And Louis Vuitton Condemn Sex Abuse Amid 'Leaving Neverland'

Virgil Abloh and Louis Vuitton are speaking up against child sex abuse. Abloh debuted a Michael Jackson-inspired collection in Paris Fashion Week in Jan. 2019, but in the wake of the allegations revisited by HBO's Leaving Neverland, the artistic director announced the luxury brand is pulling pieces of the FW19 line from production.

Abloh released a statement to WWD on Thursday (Mar. 14), condemning child abuse and explaining the motive behind the fall menswear collection. "I  am aware that, in light of this documentary, the show has caused emotional reactions. I strictly condemn any form of child abuse, violence or infringement against any human rights," he said. “My intention for this show was to refer to Michael Jackson as a pop culture artist. It referred only to his public life that we all know and to his legacy that has influenced a whole generation of artists and designers."

Michael Burke, Louis Vuitton’s chairman and chief executive officer, also elaborated on the controversy surrounding the collection, noting that they were "unaware" of the documentary prior to presenting the collection in Paris. "We find the allegations in the documentary deeply troubling and disturbing," Burke told The New Yorker. "Child safety and welfare is of utmost importance to Louis Vuitton. We are fully committed to advocating this cause."

A spokesperson for the French label also confirmed that "no item that directly features Michael Jackson elements" will be available to the public. "The Fall-Winter 2019 Men’s collection has multiple inspirations and will be launched in stores in July," the statement reads.

As previously reported, Leaving Neverland spoke with two men who alleged they were sexually abused by Jackson when they were young. The shocking footage has triggered a worldwide response, both positive and negative. While some networks and organizations have started to remove Jackson-related content from circulation, some supporters have launched protests in their local areas to defend Jackson's innocence.

The singer's family has also denied the allegations and is seeking legal action against HBO and the alleged victims.

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Ryan Destiny attends the Def Jam Pre-Grammy 2019 party at Catch LA sponsored by Courvoisier, Puma, Klasse 14 and Tik Tok on February 08, 2019 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Presley Ann/Getty Images for Def Jam Recordings)

Ryan Destiny Nabs Fashion Honor At International Women of Power Event

While donning the "lucky" color of green, in a shamrock green suit Ryan Destiny was named a fashion honoree at the International Women of Power Event. The event which took place in Los Angeles awarded Destiny with the "Fashion Queen NSAA Award" presented by Fashion Nova Cares.

The actress who plays the bold and fearless singer Alex on the Fox show Star expressed her delight through her Instagram page. "A bomb way to celebrate #internationalwomensday," the 24-year-old actress started. "Feeling so blessed. The only few words I can come up with to describe the weekend is thank you! Being an honoree is one thing but being in a room with women who are this incredible is beyond inspiring."

 

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A bomb way to start celebrate #internationalwomensday. Feeling so blessed. The only few words I can come up with to describe the weekend is thank you! Being an honoree is one thing but being in a room with women who are this incredible is beyond inspiring. Those are the moments I cherish. All LOVE to @koshiemills @diasporadialogues 🙏🏾 (had to show the failing process of getting pics on a roof) lmao. S/o to my Patna in style @scotlouie. I share this award w you friend<3

A post shared by RD (@ryandestiny) on Mar 11, 2019 at 11:52am PDT

Destiny was not the only celebrity in attendance who received accolades last week, other honorees included comedienne Tiffany Haddish, actress and activist Rosario Dawson and Abrima Erwiah, as well as First Lady of Sierra Leone H.E. Fatima Maada Bio, to name a few. The event is meant to celebrate powerful women who have positively influenced Africans worldwide.

Koshie Mills, whom Destiny thanked in her post is the brain behind the International Woman of Power Event. Mills a mother to hotshots Kwame Boateng, from Everybody Hates Chris and model-actor Kofi Siriboe, had this to say about her brainchild.

"This is an opportunity for everyone looking at Africa and its Diaspora to see how African women are not only beautiful, regal, intelligent, powerful and resilient, we are owning our own narrative and reclaiming our Queendom for the world to see," the mother of three said. "When we come together to exhibit pride in our heritage and celebrate one another, we are unmatched and unstoppable."

Learn more about the International Women of Power Event here.

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