Before the age of selfies, Instagram stars, the Kardashians, or even Rachel Zoe, there was Dapper Dan.
He is the king of street style and has been a stylist to some of the biggest names in hip-hop — P. Diddy, LL Cool J, Mike Tyson, and Salt-N-Pepa. Back in the '80s and '90s, the Harlem designer would repurpose high-end luxury logos into new pieces.
However, a new Gucci jacket bears a striking resemblance to one of Dapper Dan's original designs, and Black Twitter is pissed.
And why is this a big deal you may ask? It's about giving credit where credit is due.
Fashion is filled to the brim with instances of designers stealing other designs. But there aren't many black designers, which makes this theft a low blow.
It may be inspiring to see a jacket inspired by the streetwear of Harlem become featured on international runways, but by Gucci not recognizing the source, it becomes an erasure of Black style and design in a blatant way.
It's still unclear as to if Gucci's creative director Alessandro Michele meant for his design to be a homage to Dan's creation. Regardless, their reference should've been made clearer.
While Dan has always been on the peripheries of the fashion world, he has also been creating trends.
Dan has never been fully embraced by the fashion community, but has always been held in high regard by those who appreciated his custom street style creations. Dan has always boldly faced criticism, even when his store was raided by former Fendi lawyer, now Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, while white artists who adapted luxury logos didn't receive the same level of scrutiny, according to an interview in The Cut.
This isn't the first time Gucci has been called out for cultural appropriation.
Their Pre-Fall 2017 ad campaign didn't resonate well with everyone, since the brand was accused of parading Black bodies in their "Soul Scene" campaign.
"The fact is, putting a group of black people wearing vibrant clothing in a room and asking them to dance does not a revolution make. Especially when it has to be framed in the look of revolution 50 years past in order to be acceptable," R. Eric Thomas said in The New York Times.
It's great to see more people of color prominently featured in fashion, however the line between cultural appropriation and appreciation is still blurry.
Although there are more models of color on the runway, the fashion industry still has a very, very long way to go for equal representation. And the same can be said for Black fashion designers. With street style being as prevalent as ever, and therefore as profitable as ever, we hope that the brand will move forward with people of color not just represented in the industry, but having a voice as well.