Dapper Dan Channels The Original Cowboy in New Gap Collection

For their fifth collaboration in two years, Gap and Dapper Dan are offering their biggest collection to date, inspired by “the original cowboy.”

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The 22-piece spring collection has expanded from sweats into new product categories featuring head-to-toe western denim looks.

“Ralph Lauren has always been my idol. I found out Ralph Lauren had a Western-style collection with the Gap so that was super exciting for me. The Gap has been my idol in reaching people I’ve always wanted to reach. Even though I started out in Harlem, I started out in luxury. So many people in the community said, ‘I can finally wear something that you made,'” Dapper Dan said Tuesday in an interview with WWD.

He said the collection allows him to dress people who weren’t able to afford his prior work, and to “de-stigmatize one of the most popular items 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.”

The Dap Gap logo hoodie, which started the brand’s two-year-old partnership, is available in four new colorways.

“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. “This new installation also symbolizes universal love and unity. You’ll see every single piece of this collection was created with love and intention down to the updated logo stitched inside each garment. We are in the present preparing for the future because this brand, this collaboration, is about bringing everybody together. We were some of the original cowboys. But we are also the faces of the world to come — and we are the urban cowboys.”

Dapper Dan is the ad campaign for the Dap Gap collaboration.
Dapper Dan is the ad campaign for the Dap Gap collaboration.

Alongside the four new logo hoodies, the Dap Gap spring capsule offers styles in different product categories, such as a denim kimono jacket, a Western-style denim button-down shirt, an embroidered cotton Oxford shirt, and a houndstooth icon denim jean jacket with matching straight fit pants. The collection includes two GapKids Dap Gap hoodies and a babyGap Brannan Bear styled in its own Dap x Gap hoodie. Sizes range from kids’ size 8 to adult XXXL and retail from $25 to $158.

Dapper Dan said the collection features ascots as part of the intention to have “that rich playboy look.”

Dapper Dan said he’s so used “to going way upstairs, and I said, ‘let me relax and get more universal.'” He added, “Nothing is more universal than denim. Denim is the fashion language of the world.”

“The Gap reaches everybody. The Gap is global. One of the big problems we have with minorities is reaching everyone. Everybody can find something within themselves that fits into the message of the The Gap,” he said.

He said that when he works with brands, including Gap, the projects tap into his personality.

“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 said. “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,” said Dapper Dan.

Campaign image from Dap Gap.
Campaign featuring looks from Dap Gap.

“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,” added Dapper Dan.

The Dap Gap capsule will be available in seven stores nationwide and on on Friday at noon EST. Stores that will carry the collection are in New York at Times Square, Third Avenue and 85th Street, Bay Plaza in the Bronx, and Gap Outlet at 125th Street in Harlem. In San Francisco, it will be available at 2 Folsom Street, in Los Angeles at the Gap in The Grove, and in Washington, D.C. at Tyson’s Corner Center.

The collection will be amplified by a Dap Gap two-minute film shot by Ghanaian-American photographer Joshua Kissi, featuring faces in the community who live in Harlem’s historic Graham Court apartment building.

To view the film:

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