Dapper Dan discusses the greater mission behind his partnership with Gap

Dapper Dan is using his Gap collaboration to increase accessibility and destigmatize the hoodie.

Fashion pioneer Dapper Dan made his name reimagining luxury for a streetwear-savvy crowd, but in recent years, the veteran designer has become more accessible, thanks to an ongoing partnership with Gap on several collaborative collections. With each release offering a new theme and motif, Dapper Dan x Gap’s most beloved drops are its “Dap” logo hoodies, combining Gap and its designer’s monikers with a familiar African-American greeting

In addition to being a play on words between the designer and brand’s names, Dapper Dan told Women’s Wear Daily the signature pieces were created to “de-stigmatize one of the most popular items in the hood, which is the hoodie. With the Trayvon Martin [killing] and all that going on, I got excited about taking the hoodie and making it feel luxurious and elevate the way people perceive people of color in the hood.”

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Shoppers can browse Dapper Dan’s latest collection on the Gap site starting Friday. (Photos: Joshua Kissi for Gap/Courtesy of Gap)

For the partners’ fifth and largest capsule collection to date, the designer pushed perceptions further, releasing a collection inspired by the “original cowboy,” which features four new hoodie designs. 

“At certain points in history, the hoodie has been used to represent the dark side of our culture, so this partnership with Gap presents it in a way that shows you can wear a hoodie and be fly, be international and elegant,” explained Dapper Dan in a press release to theGrio. 

In addition to the covetable hoodies, the spring collection features 22 pieces ranging from sweatpants to Western-inspired denim jeans, tops and accessories. Understanding the universal love and appeal of denim as well as its role in Gap’s origins, the Harlem native says he chose the fabric because “denim is the fashion language of the world.” 

Despite taking a more earthy approach to his designs this season, Dapper Dan continues to take pride in unapologetically being himself and letting his dynamic personality shine through his collaborations. For this collection, the collaborators released a video campaign in which Dapper Dan revisited his Harlem roots. 

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“My career has signaled a change in the way people of color are reflected in fashion now. As I studied fashion history over these last 40 years, the big change in the ’80s was when hip-hop came about, and I came out with this concept of logomania. Prior to that, people of color had to immerse ourselves into the idea of what the brand was already like,” he told WWD. “When the brands came to me, starting with Gucci, they said, ‘you be you.’ I didn’t have to go to the brands and become part of them. The brands came to me to become part of me. I incorporate that in all the projects I have done. Everyone who reaches out to me wants some of who I am. I did Pepsi, I did Puma, I did Gucci. You see the same thing in the Gap collection.”

Throughout his work with Gap, Dapper Dan noted an appreciation for the brand’s wide reach and broad audience. Having started his career in the luxury space, the designer explained how working with Gap has allowed him to become accessible to those who may not have been able to afford his high-end designs. 

“What’s exciting for me is the Gap reached into who I am and what I’m about. My whole travels in understanding fashion started with me trying to understand what I stand for and what I’m about. I did a lot of studying about religion, and it all goes back to a symbol. And that’s really how I got into logomania, and how I came up with the concept of the power of symbols. And the Gap allowed me to bring that to them. I don’t want people just to put the clothes on, I want people to look into who I am and what I’m saying and what Gap is allowing me to say,” he added. 

The new Dapper Dan x Gap collection will be available in sizes from kids’ size 8 to adult XXXL and will retail from $25 to $158. Shoppers can browse the collection starting Feb. 9 at noon on gap.com. 

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