Dapper Dan created a booming business in the 80’s and 90’s by providing rappers, hustlers, and athletes with monogrammed luxury pieces they couldn’t find in 5th Avenue stores like Gucci, Fendi, and Louis Vuitton.
The storied Italian and French fashion houses had the luxury game and monogram prints on lock, but the swag was something Dan created in Harlem. Rappers had a particular style that called for baggy pants, tracksuits, and leather jackets that those brands simply didn’t have. So Dan made them, replicating the monogram prints in his shop using high quality ink, then selling his custom pieces to those who wouldn’t blush at the price tag.
We all know the story: Dan was shut down due to copyright infringement, but later experienced a revival when Gucci copied his design. Now, with critically acclaimed official collaborations under his belt, the rest is history.
It comes as no surprise that Dan would have inspired many designers of this generation, whose customers similarly love the look of monogrammed pieces, but can’t seem to find what they need on the racks of luxury ateliers. Many wondered where they could buy Monica’s Verzuz battle Fendi outfit:
Newsflash: It’s not available in stores. Monica’s Fendi look was the brainchild of LA based designer Sir Baba Jagne and stylist Kollin Carter, who chopped a Fendi Trench and skirt (available in stores) to create her one-of-one jacket, corset, and hat.
Kollin and Baba Jagne also collaborated to create this Louis Vuitton look on Cardi B, converting two $1,620 Louis Vuitton skirts into a set:
The new age Dapper Dan’s are no longer recreating the monograms in their ateliers, but rather buying items from stores, and remixing.
Exclusive Game out of Atlanta ( whose clients include Meek Mill, Rick Ross, Future, and Money Bagg Yo), is a master at his craft, outfitting style stars in custom looks using scarves and pieces from the brand to create more hip hop inspired ensembles.
While he has been able to run his lucrative business without limits, and even gets invited to Louis Vuitton shows in Paris…
… his Instagram @ExclusiveGame was recently disabled after Goyard caught wind of a bucket hat he created for Future.
While many brands seem to celebrate Exclusive Game’s creativity, apparently Goyard is not one of them. He has been forced to start again on Instagram under the handle @ ExclusiveGameATL.
Rich God XX is another menswear designer who offers his creative takes on garments using monogram fabrics. His clients include Fabolous, Lil Durk, and Gunna.
Unlike the 80’s and 90’s, rappers and fashionistas have access and can walk into any luxury store–and buy anything they like! But what they still can’t seem to find, apparently, are stylish items that fit their tastes.
While many on Instagram are lambasting some of these designers for creating replicas or fakes, we can see the outstanding creativity, and think that in this current climate, a move towards collaboration and appreciation vs. litigation should be the way forward.
Louis Vuitton hired Virgil Abloh as their menswear creative director, Misa Hylton is global fashion director of MCM, and Gucci collaborated with Dapper Dan.
Perhaps it’s time for luxury houses to embrace a few of these new Street couturiers, who are creating loads of hot pieces for their well heeled clients.
What say you?