Back in May, Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele found himself the subject of some snippy online chatter—and just as quickly turned a potential problem into a genuinely exciting solution. While showing Gucci’s Resort 2018 collection—one of those between-seasons collections stuffed with new luxury wares tasteful rich ladies love, like caftans and gigantic hats—Michele marched a look down the runway that garnered some unexpected attention. It was a jacket: a brown bomber with ballooning sleeves done up in brown-and-tan Gucci G’s. To eagle-eyed observers, the piece looked a whole lot like one made by Dapper Dan in the ‘80s.
Dap—real name Daniel Day—is the Harlem couturier who spent much of that decade inventing his own kind of sampling, remixing luxury goods from brands like Gucci and Louis Vuitton into newer, weirder garments worn by local and visiting royalty. And all of a sudden, Dapper Dan was on a high-fashion runway. An explanation shortly cropped up: Gucci’s Instagram account called the jacket an “homage,” and the two parties told the Times in September that they planned to reopen Dap’s boutique—only this time, with Gucci’s help.
But now it’s not just a press release. It’s an actual store, seen here for the first time. Dapper Dan’s boutique is back, this time in a Guccified brownstone on Lenox Avenue in Harlem. And things will be a little different this go-round. Instead of Dap tweaking and recontextualizing other brands’ goods on his own, Gucci itself will provide him with materials, patches, prints, and all the rest. Basically: He’ll be making custom Dapper Dan Gucci gear. And in a fashion moment that prizes super high-end fashion, logo-heavy streetwear, and collaboration for collaboration’s sake, Dap’s new Gucci productions are sure to become major celeb status symbols when the shop opens—by appointment only—in January.
“Nothing has been more significant in the Harlem cultural scene than Alessandro and Gucci coming to Harlem and partnering with Dapper Dan,” Dap said in a statement. Suffice to say: Dude has reason to be excited. In a moment when fashion brands (Gucci included!) are largely interested in Instagram-friendly It Objects—an ugly sneaker here, an absurdly expensive graphic T-shirt there—Gucci and Dap are focusing on high-end bespoke goodness.
And they’re acknowledging fashion history in the process. The philosophy behind the retro-inspired sampling Michele has used to turn Gucci into a white-hot fashion colossus is indebted to Dapper Dan’s early experiments in high-low cut-and-sew. And while we’re sure the bespoke Gucci-Dap collaboration won’t be cheap—these are painstakingly made, one-off garments—the slightly less full-walleted among us can rest easy. An available-to-all-comers Dap x Gucci collaboration will release in tandem with the brand’s Fall 2018 collection next year. We’ll be wearing our finest balloon-sleeved bomber jackets.