Podcast Of The Week: Dapper Dan with Jesse Thorn

In 2017, a Gucci fashion show featured a model wearing a jacket that (I, non-fashion-boy, to be very clear) would describe as a sorta fur coat jacket, with these exaggeratedly puffed out, Louis Vuitton meets Disney princess shoulder puffs and sleeves. 

Again, I – who am not fashionable in any way – would have seen this and just said, “Art. Cool.”

But not the internet. Olympic runner Diane Dixon saw the jacket and went, “hey, that’s a knockoff of the jacket I got from Dapper Dan in 1990?!” 

Dapper Dan made a business out of turning aspirational luxury into streetwear. For decades, the Gucci’s of the world tried to shut him down as a knockoff. 

Then, nearly 30 years later, Gucci was knocking off Dapper Dan. 

Culture is funny like that. What we do is who we are

Who we want to become, or how we want to be known – the aspirational aspect that separates luxury goods from basic commodities – is always evolving. 

Because once all the Sneetches have stars on their bellies, it becomes much cooler to have no stars upon thars. Luxury as a concept is static, but luxury as a taste shifts with the Sneetches. 

The tastemakers matter. Dapper Don is one of the greatest tastemakers of all time. And he’s still hardly known outside of fashion circles. Others, in his footsteps, made culture with 3 stripes and 3% tweaks

Dapper Dan: Made in Harlem is one of my favorite non-business culture business culture books. The interview he gave with Jesse Thorn is a great entry to his life and work if you don’t want to start with the book. Either way, if you care about culture, art, or business, you need to know this man. 

Check out Legendary Fashion Designer: Dapper Dan on Bullseye with Jesse Thorn. And, you also will want to see this crazy story from 2017 to believe it, so check out “Gucci Finally Responds to Controversy Surrounding ‘Knockoff’ Dapper Dan Jacket” in Complex from 2017.