I am SICK of appropriation. I’m gonna walk you through a journey of podcasts, articles, and other receipts… follow me. Gucci’s Alessandro Michele ripped off Dapper Dan’s Harlem creations of old for a new show sans credit, and most importantly sans COIN. In the Invite Only episode, I alluded to Gucci’s antics, performing blackness, but they showed their whole asses on this one.
Dapper Dan is one of the designers profiled in “Fresh Dressed,” a documentary about hip hop’s influence on fashion… that is CURRENTLY ON NETFLIX… so either the Gucci creatives stole it from there OR could have easily accessed the same information I did and given proper credit. Dapper Dan, an icon in his own right, used counterfeit luxury branded fabric (ie Gucci, Louis Vuitton, etc.) to create 80s street fashions. He was ultimately put out of business when Gucci and other brands sued him to the high heavens for infringing upon their marks. Fast forward to 2017, and they’re stealing from him. Aint that a bitch. Gucci finally copped to stealing the fashions, but under the guise of “paying homage.” I assure you Dan would prefer just payment. The part that really wears me out is Gucci was clocked on this shit repeatedly (see this November Fashionista Article. and this April NYT article calling their “soul” campaign “Diversity Drag”) but they just HAD to keep pushing it. The Fashionista article was an observation, the NYT article was a notice and side eye. This time Gucci made it VERY plain. This was the final slap in the face.
I listen to NPR podcasts while I wash my hair and today I happened across an episode of Code Switch, entitled “Give It Up For DJ Blackface.” In the midst of my mind swirling about Gucci’s missteps, I found myself listening to stories of how the black and queer originators of house and EDM music were pushed aside when they genres reached “mainstream” success. But of course, not without some aggressive borrowing of symbols and even names. So of course by the end of this podcast, my blood was positively BOILING.
Then, I listened to Jonathan Capehart’s Cape Up Podcast with Jesse Williams, who perfectly articulated everything I felt about appropriation. “Black language is ghettoized until it’s appropriated.” And you can swap language out for any number of things, including fashion and music. It’s as if we don’t count to the world until white people validate our concepts, and that is JUST not true. We create and they appropriate and profit. It fucking sucks. And I’m over it. In short. Dear Gucci: Run Dan His Money.