BLACK VOICES

Dapper Dan Releases Statement On Gucci Blackface Controversy And 'Accountability'

"I am a Black man before I am a brand," the Harlem fashion designer said.

Harlem fashion icon Daniel Day, known as Dapper Dan, has weighed in on the recent controversy surrounding Gucci and one of its clothing items, which was widely criticized for resembling blackface

The fashion designer, who collaborated with Gucci in 2017, addressed the controversy in a statement published to Instagram on Monday. 

“I am a Black man before I am a brand,” Day wrote. “Another fashion house has gotten it outrageously wrong. There is no excuse nor apology that can erase this kind of insult.” 

The luxury brand came under fire last week after images of its balaclava knit top surfaced online. The $890 black sweater features an opening with bright red lips — ridiculed for its resemblance to racist and anti-black caricatures — that can be stretched over the mouth.

Gucci released a statement last Wednesday that it has removed the item from its website and stores. “Gucci deeply apologizes for the offense caused by the wool balaclava jumper,” the brand’s apology read. 

In Day’s Instagram statement, he indicated that Gucci’s CEO Marco Bizzarri agreed to travel to New York to meet with him and “members of the community and other industry leaders.” 

“There cannot be inclusivity without accountability,” Day added. “I will hold everyone accountable.” 

He collaborated with Gucci on a menswear line after the luxury brand was accused of appropriating black culture and criticized for producing a jacket resembling one of Day’s from the 1980s.

Alessandro Michele, Gucci’s creative director, told The New York Times in 2017 it was an homage to Day, who ran a famous clothing studio in Harlem in the 1980s and early 1990s known for its legendary knockups.

Last year Day teamed with the brand to open an atelier in Central Harlem that Gucci described as an “homage to the couturier’s original boutique.” 

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