Way designer Dapper Dan speaks at the Business of Fashion Voices zenith, in Oxford.
Photograph: John Phillips

Dapper Dan and Withers van Noten address cultural appropriation debate

The fashion authors have both had the discussion brought to their door in 2017

Dapper Dan, the Harlem adapt whose bootleg designs once brought a lawsuit from Fendi but are now being underwritten by his new accessories at Gucci, was “misunderstood” by a fashion industry that failed to sympathize the power dynamic of cultural appropriation, he has said.

“The strong ascertain the course that history will take. The black community which I earn from in Harlem, we don’t have the resources to determine that surely.”


Dapper Dan at the Business of Fashion Voices summit. Photograph: John Phillips

The alter found himself at the centre of the cultural appropriation debate this year when a near-copy of a Swell Dan design appeared on the Gucci catwalk. Gucci shortcircuited the ensuing judgement by announcing a new collaboration with the tailor, whose atelier on reopen next year, this time stocked with legal Gucci fabrics instead of bootlegged ones. “In my community, we beget a different language to discuss cultural appropriation. We have bootlegs and we father knockoffs. It is about creating something new,” said Dapper Dan. “My pinch on the partnership with Gucci is that I am happy to have a wide-ranging audience. I feel that if I can be accepted by a brand on this straightforward, that sends a message to people of colour all over the planet that we can at long last do this. Because when you look back at brands that sooner a be wearing been created by people of colour, none of them be subjected to survived. They all crashed.”

The tailor, whose iconic patient list of rappers included LL Cool J, Eric B and Rakim and Salt-N-Pepa, was indicate as it were at the Voices summit curated by Business of Fashion. The designer Dries van Noten, who recently brass a backlash over the use in his knitwear of a traditional Peruvian llama concept, also addressed the issue of appropriation, questioning the framework in which cultural references possess become problematic. “There was a huge reaction against that sweater. I was have an effected I was a thief. It does not make sense to me as a citizen of the world that the just culture I am allowed to think about is Belgian folklore. Of progression, we must be careful and sensitive. But why is it so different from a Belgian chef playing olive oil?”


Dries van Noten. Photograph: John Phillips

Halima Aden, the hijab-wearing catwalk mannequin who made headlines when she appeared at the Maxmara show this year, scold of her own positive experiences of cultural exchange in the fashion industry. “I play a joke on learned so much from being around other exemplars from different backgrounds. One of the best examples is Gigi Hadid. I entertain loved spending time with her and seeing that there is no one way to be a Muslim spouse, that we can coexist in that space and support each other. Wives should have the freedom to wear revealing clothes if that’s what orders them feel beautiful, but women who want to dress modestly should handle like they have a place in fashion, too.”


Halima Aden on stratum with Business of Fashion’s editor-at-large, Tim Blanks, and her mentor, the stylist Carine Roitfeld. Photograph: John Phillips

Aden finished “a lot of pushback” from her Somalian-American family when she became the beginning hijab-wearing entrant to the Miss Minnesota contest in 2016. “My mom was like, ‘Discontinuance in your lane’. But I wanted to participate because I never saw myself as numerous from my fellow Minnesotans, and the only time I saw a woman clad like me was on CNN – and they were never doing anything I approved of.” In 2017, the year check up on Aden’s appearance in the contest, seven hijab-wearing women entered. Carine Roitfeld, the iconic French stylist who Aden describes as her mentor, allowed that her native France has a particularly difficult relationship with the hijab. “People are uncommonly fearful. But I don’t care, because I think I am doing the right attitude.”