When Louis Vuitton unveiled its Fall 2017 collaboration with Supreme, fashion obsessives and streetwear fans alike lost their minds. Images of the much-anticipated merch appeared all over Instagram and #LVxSupreme started trending immediately. But, amidst the craze of this fresh merge of streetwear and luxury, déja vu hit me hard.
I had seen something like this before, and not only because a picture had leaked on social media the week prior to the debut. It was Dapper Dan, the designer who birthed logomania at his Harlem boutique in the 1980s, and whose clients included LL Cool J, Mike Tyson, and Floyd Mayweather, Jr.
In fact, the Louis Vuitton team said it was Dapper Dan’s “logo-heavy and denim dominated Harlem style” that influenced the collection, along with artists like Jean-Michel Basquiat, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Andy Warhol. The references come naturally to Kim Jones, artistic director of menswear for Louis Vuitton, who owns one of the largest fashion archives in the world, as AnOther Magazine reported in 2015.
One might argue that Louis Vuitton may be trying to up its cool factor, or that Supreme is trying to elevate its consumer profile. But, it’s no doubt this conversation started in Dapper Dan’s shop.
So, who is he?
Daniel “Dapper Dan” Day opened his 125th Street boutique in 1982, when hip-hop was just a New York subculture. And it wasn’t until 1985, when LL Cool J turned up at the store, that his designs caught the attention of the rap world. His style was flamboyant and independent, a kind of reinterpretation of high fashion that transformed into streetwear that only rappers and young style fans in New York City would appreciate at the time. “I blackenized it,” said Dapper Dan in the 2015 documentary Fresh Dressed.