Dapper Dan: Made in Harlem – A Memoir (2019)

Memoir is a great genre to re-discover Black histories. This text by Harlem fashion legend “Dapper Dan” (Daniel Day) reviews his Harlem life from tenements as a child to throwing dice in the 1970s to selling iconic fashion designs to emerging rappers in the 1990s. This book is not only a fascinating review of Black-owned businesses (and the challenges they faced), but also an important look back on the Great Migration and the 1st generation Northern Blacks who are parents and grandparents to the current generation.

While I could say that this is just a story about clothing, it is a story of Black ingenuity and entrepreneurship in the realm of fashion. How does a dice wiz apply the same art and science to making money in a whole new sphere? How does Hip Hop create an opportunity for subsidiary businesses to grow and thrive? How – exactly – can counterfeits be original? This book is just the tale of the most iconic designer in all of Black America. And, since Dapper Dan is a writer himself, this book is pure style and class. Even when he’s locked up in a Caribbean jail it sounds like he’s plotting his next come back. Check this one out on audible, where it is read by Omari Hardwick: Crime and fashion never sounded so good.

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