Dapper Dan, a stylist and fixture in Hip Hop fashion named in Rap songs by Jay Z, Nas, Brother Ali and Masta Ace, among others, recently spoke about Kanye West during an interview with Vice primarily focused on masculinity and fashion.
“Kanye is making a mistake,” says Dapper Dan, referring to West’s recent complaints regarding the fashion industry. “He is begging and waiting for somebody. To people like me, who struggled, he’s an embarrassment. He’s got all this money, and he’s knocking on the door. I was dead broke. I told my friends back then, if they weren’t going to let me in the door, I’ll just do what they do better than they do it. And do it for us.
“He admitted that he’s an artist, but he doesn’t know how to sell his stuff to the public,” Dapper Dan added. “That’s his problem. I don’t think he’s in touch. Does he know what excites the people on the street? Or is it just that he wants people to wear something because he’s wearing it? He should study why Black designers before him didn’t make it. If he had done that, he would have known what to expect.”
Dan offers West advice during the interview when he is asked what he would say to the Chicago rapper-designer.
“Let’s take this little bit of money here and put it over here in a fashion business,” Dapper Dan says. “They won’t even know it’s us. Let’s nurture it a certain way so we can see how the game goes. If he comes out with a line with his name on it and fails, then he’s branded a failure. When I was making clothes, people would come to me and I’d say, ‘No, no. They’re going to control me. They’re going to do it the way they want to do.’ I’d rather not come out until I can control the elements in the game as opposed to experimenting with my own name. You don’t get a second chance. Not on his level.”
Kanye West has been vocal about frustrations with the fashion industry for at least the past year. In September 2013, West spoke about how he felt under-appreciated by the fashion world.
“I shouldn’t be limited to only one place of creativity,” West said at the time. “And it’s literally only like one or two or three reasons why I haven’t been able to break that down. This is the thing, you guys don’t understand. You guys don’t understand that I did the Yeezys and they eBayed for $90,000. And people wanted them bad as whatever, right? But I didn’t get a call from Nike the next day. You guys don’t understand that I’ve met with companies and they say, ‘What we’re trying to figure out is how we can control you and control that.’ If you’re an architect, if you’re a world builder, if you have all these ideas and you’re gaudy and you want to build buildings, if you don’t ever get that out what ‘s gonna happen? Isn’t that why you do it?”
Dapper Dan Says “Russell Simmons Is A Master”
Dan says he’s learned a lot during his career in fashion. Russell Simmons was responsible for at least one of those lessons discussed during his Vice interview.
“Russell Simmons is a master because he hooked up with that Jewish guy and that was it,” Dan says in the piece. “That gave him the balance that I didn’t have… I will never allow myself to limit myself to people like myself, again. There’s no growth in that. If you’re White and you don’t have any Black friends, you’re missing out. And vice versa. You’re limiting yourself. You need to be gay, straight, White, Black, Spanish, English, everything. The more people you come into contact with, the more growth you’re capable of. And I needed to know that when I was younger. I didn’t have anybody to tell me that. All I had were the people who were saying, ‘Don’t let that White man do that. Watch out.'”
Photography By: Conor Lamb