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.
“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.