cover image Dapper Dan: Made in Harlem

Dapper Dan: Made in Harlem

Daniel R. Day, with Mikael Awake. Random, $28 (304p) ISBN 978-0-525-51051-2

In this moving memoir, Day (aka Dapper Dan) chronicles his rise from a poor black boy growing up in 1940s Harlem to becoming a notable designer of streetwear. With clients ranging from gangsters and pimps to Jay-Z and Beyoncé, Day saw each customer as “an actor auditioning to be in this big, generational movie I’m making.” Day was a talented poet and writer, as well as a hustler who beat street hoods in dice games and dropped out of high school at 15. In 1974, Day began making and selling clothes, and he opened his first store on 125th Street in 1982. He taught himself textile printing and, during New York’s crack epidemic in the 1980s, built a clothing business that inspired what boxers and rappers would wear for years to come; in 2018, he opened a store on Lenox Avenue, with Gucci as a partner. Day writes that he “never thought of [himself] as an artist, or in fashion industry terms... I was playing jazz with fashion.” In describing his life, Day also provides a fascinating portrait of the Harlem in his youth, “before the heroin game overtook the numbers game, before crack overtook heroin.” Day wonderfully captures the style of Harlem and its evolution throughout the decades. [em](July) [/em]