Brands hold immense sway over both consumers and the American legal system. Few know this as well as Dapper Dan, who went from street hustler to fashion impresario and has spent time on both sides of American trademark law.
Articles of Interest is a limited-run podcast series about fashion, housed inside the design and architecture podcast 99% Invisible. Launched in 2018 by Avery Trufelman, the show encourages people to rethink the way we look at what we wear and what it says about us.
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
When your name is Dan, you gotta lotta, nicknames growing up in Harlem Daniel Day, heard his fair share of them.
my own neighbourhood on the ISA where everybody,
the any boy, but the sobriquet that woods
the one most people would come to know was dapper Dan because from a young age he liked to look
Good causes a transformative thing if you got
swing really dressed up in
what downtown nobody knew. You came from the boys neighbourhood policy. Does what made a difference
people color when you dress then has
equalising effect on how you feel smashing. If you can,
spend it in the white kids that you see. Dapper Dan life took a lot of crazy turns, including, but not limited to
years of running Street Batson Dice Games a ring of credit card fraud and arrest in Aruba time in prison. He was a house
or a gambler for decades.
But what is best known for what he did, after all that when you decide
just get away from his life of crime sort of
I want to be involved in all of the dangerous street gained. Megantic street came and look for something also do the year was nineteen. Eighty Dan was active, late thirties,
since I knew all people who like to address the ones who had the money,
It would be a great opportunity for me, and I knew that that deal with the open from dapper Dan, why to get into the fashion, came to live up to his honor effect.
We have to start somewhere, so he started: selling stolen clothes Bergamo Court Loose Corps.
I go out. All of us lose all. The spots will be at all. Three people
and he got a real test for the kinds of fashions people in Harlem we're. Looking for a dance clients wanted color flair and personality, other dark eurocentric, stuff, you'd find
Madison Avenue Boutique, so you were real soul. Flagstaff. Do I get into that?
saw. Look you gotta, come to a real gritty soul guy, so dapper Dan saved up money.
Opened a shotgun in nature,
eighty two he hired tailors and seamstresses and critic
furs and leather goods for his clients, making
whatever they wanted? Dapper Dan and his tailors were pretty dynamic. He didn't have any one signature, look or style that was until one day.
When one of the most popular hustlers in Harlem marched into dance shop
to the store one day and he had a lieutenant pulse was for
a hundred dollar bills for everyone,
Looking at what
excited about it, but everyone,
was ignoring the hundred dollar. Bills, got excited about the bag, big so, and I look at the
excited- is only follow up with the final one all about labour.
When it was the symbols on the bag. Those
or else, and vs and files all over, that Lui return bag and, in that moment, dab
Dan came up with an idea that would turn fashion upside down. Above
I offer my at all- and his idea was
to take those symbols on that bag and steal them
articles of interest, the show about what we were she's into people don't realize it's fantasy is always this thing that you have to work hard to do so. No one dresses like a king and how you really love there are lots of things that we take for granted would once have been considered luxuries
if I'm passing through downtown San Francisco or Manhattan, or an airport
or I look around and I'll. Take stock of the retail landscape
massive posters of poor, less do I'd faces, stare down at me, advertising handbags that cost double my rent
and sometimes on the ground, and I'm just like
who is this for who could pass
We afford all this. How is there enough money around to keep all,
he's brands and business and their flagship stores around the world. Who is
Impulsively buying a two thousand dollar burglary coat wilting at an airport boutique who,
stumbling into a protest or front to try and address who is this bore turns out. This is for you. The point is to make money
point is to build up a round and an identity that then we'll sell the things that do make money, which are usually accessories that are relatively cheap, so everything
she's handbags on down to like little wallets and sunglasses, and whatever you see, I love her
Sir cow Rusty Alice says that the lux advertisements, intimidating shops and to a degree the runway, shows our about building up the mythology of a brand,
so that they can sell their logo on other stuff couture off
operates primarily to build brand, and runway shows do that as well. A lot of stuff that goes on the runways never sees the light of day in a store. It's about the performance,
of a brand. The creation
of a story, because
the right name, the right symbol. We were
by something not in spite of its price, but because of it. So normally we thinks
plight and demand kind driven by price and not the cheaper. Something gets more people
a consumer? That's true for most things
does like gas is cheaper people are gonna, drive more that's normal get table.
As far as they get more expensive people are drawn to it. Failings.
It's our named for Thorsten, enabling women was economist way back in the distant past. Two hundred twenty one years ago, to be more precise, chew talk about them,
some things are more attractive, the more expensive they are and
turn things. Actually the very cost of them are part of their appeal lodged.
Three is almost like a quantum physics of economics, we're all the
sabotage the laws of supply and demand just go out the window.
True for a lot of things and that the fashion world, because fashion, as so often about both self expression, but also about excluded,
others and showing that you, you have high status so the more expensive, an unattainable. They are the better and more expensive,
unattainable, they are the more likely it is that someone is going to knock them off.
As Chinatown descends into the financial district
all along Canal Street in Manhattan. People will approach you clad in black baseball caps, holding up laminated sheets of paper,
these lemme bits of paper are basically menus, showing the variety of knock off handbags their paddling.
Number twenty one by one hundred medicine. We do no one velvet pointed out when you point to a bag and eliminated menu, your dealer will go fetch it from a store in nearby this calmly.
System helps the sellers keep a low profile. Although there are also some old vendors, you just put their wares right there on the sidewalk
and here like a velvet Vicki Banknotes- actually extremely kid so
vendors lay their bags on a big sheet so that they can pull over
orders and run away when they see the police coming. This is, of course, a legal
Any time your copying a brand, a trade mark, a logo you're breaking off a logo.
Is protected by law. That's true of
He two dimensional image or drawing or pattern or print, so the prince
actually original to you is in the public domain. It's like a child,
mention all image. You can protect that this is in part.
Why many luxury brand started to pattern, their logos all over their handbags? In the first place, it's like water marking an image to try to protect it, but like any illegal trade, these knockoffs don't exist in a bubble.
Tourists flogged to canal street from all over the world to buy these knock off handbags knowing full well, they are knockoffs like if these shoppers really needed hands
They could get high quality, unbranded ones for the same price somewhere else. They come to canal street. For these powerful symbols,
Dapper Dan witness the power of these symbols that fateful day
How can the eighties on that one?
hustler in Harlem, whilst into his shop with that Vinyl Lulli Tom Pouch and ever
gathered around the little bag. Transfixed, that's
dapper Dan Thawed. Ok,
fascinated with those symbols of Oliver.
I've been walking around looking like that bag, Dapper Dan didn't wanna, take designer bags and replicate them.
I want to do something. Nobody else with even thought I gotta figure out how to transform them. Symbols into garments. Dapper Dan wanted to take these symbols. The logos of this
old luggage company who at that point, really only made bags and he wanted to print them on clothing.
This law teacher myself ridden going to trade shelf
What myself, everything and dapper Dan started to print? Leave it on logos on things that Luton could have never
dreamt of leather track, suits, skintight leather dresses, long, bulletproof, leather trench, coats, full leather, car interiors, as also totally original designs like Aberdeen created this particularly distinctive jacket, with a black first horses and huge puffy leather balloon sleeves covered in EL beans, and he started using the logos of other legacy. Luxury brown and fancy cars and religious totem may these. But the subject is thirty years ago with the core mobiles on his work was all festooned with symbols, and it was all very expensive, very explicit. Still very each man system from the battle for the military needs to fish
and though he embossed his clothes with the marks of gucci, Infinity and Louis. That was the only part of them that was actually a knock off, because nothing like
these designs had ever existed before. Dapper Dan invented a young. He is
the creator of high and hip hop passion. You cannot produce
idea in the Swiss and it becomes you. Don't I've heard developing showdown these France that I could do an interpreter
My community make ever think of all around him.
Embassies were re, mixing pop music into beats and dapper Dan was re, mixing established luxury brow,
known symbols into something
entirely new dapper Dan
is one of the reasons logo mania took off in the eighties. He was taking these brands away from their expected homes on luggage or cars and putting them all over bodies.
If you look at old pictures of Missy, Elliot R, L, cool J on YO, MTV wraps their wing leather track suits covered with Gucci and sandy look
US and those were not made by gucci and funding these designs were
all original to Dapper Dan Pre before soon
Alfred, the stars in the rapids. Without this ongoing ex gucci, this
I want the one also raw camel and on more than one, I sell ll cool Jane US at that point,
This is coming from some will,
as dapper Dan clients, spread out into the mainstream of Hiphop, grew, dig
fashion houses started to take notice of dapper Dan and history,
sitting quietly at first with co,
agents, visiting, Dan's, Harlem Shop Debate,
an as evidence, take it to the courts and, of course, regret
she's in disorder, but Dapper Dan did not cease. Nor does
They don't want us looking like them.
this in the Martians and they had a race to confiscate anything with their trademark,
federal marshals, marched into dance shop with garbage bags. They came in waves, Gucci Prada.
And the marshals carted off thousands of dollars worth of dapper Dan Custom work and his equipment.
You can read me read me: Honeywell were calmness. How do I get around it? While I attempted to far more manassa mushroom
I don't see. No reason for me to stop
scared about his business, because I did well to do the school back
I can, of course they would all knows
system. Constantly stepping on me stepping step me stepping on us so is like
we have to learn a step back.
Figure out ways to navigate this system so thus
that is another obstacle.
This deal with Dapper Dan
always knew what he was doing with illegal always, but he, tangled with the law before in much more serious ways he was used to hustling.
So the luxury brands came after down, he just find another way to go on the go on the ground so like there was ill
when it was necessary, dapper Dan.
Kept selling his work. The way he used to sell his stolen clothes out of his car, he lived as
mad alone on the ground. I had us make
and now it hit every black city from here to score,
then come back and had every black city from here to, and I know
stay me for twenty years, twenty years, twenty years,
away from the eyes of gucci and products and all
the major brands would expect to get upset about trademark infringement and call on the federal marshals. The law was pretty cotton dry. As our expert professor Rusty Allah said I'd like a two dimensional image you can put, I thought
seems pretty simple, but that's not how the large truly functions well
I think, of a knock off. I think, of the imitation bags on canal street, I think of small vendors, stealing the trademarks of huge companies, but big,
I'll, be multi national fashion companies knock
all the time all the time
for most of us might not realise, were buying knockoffs at all. When I first saw
I was like
Maybe it was a mistake, and then maybe I made a mistake in thinking that it was like to similar in. I was like: maybe they don't now. This is Tuesday by
she's an illustrator and that's how she got into the world of clothing. I started making clubs when I moved to allay at the time
I had put our gesine called ugly girl going and the three girls on the front cover I had drawn were worrying, sign jacket and on the back of their satin jackets, our hearts that say mixed emotions club, so many people would be like. Oh, I would wear that jacket.
And being an ally and being around clothing manufacturing hands like maybe I can make that jacket
Tuesday made her first bomber jacket and twenty fifteen. It looked exactly like the one. Her character in her scene is wearing it satin, with a big hard across the back that says mixed emotions club it sold out.
And I made more Tuesday went on to design an entire line of pins and patches and accessories and clothes and a wide range of sizes,
A lot of her illustrations are integrated into her. Clothing sets an extremely personal thing, which is why it was almost painful in twenty sixteen when the
asked fashion. Behemoth Zora sold a line of designs that looked exactly like tuesdays.
It was my entire catalogue of goods on their products on various products. Shirts,
patches, everything this is illegal aside.
Lastly, since Tuesday had already registered her images, I am somewhat proactive about being litigious
and already had and trademarks on most of the design and set so smart yeah. So Tuesday do what you're supposed to do
she issued a cease and desist notice
serious thing about it is that in the tax, the parent
Many of our era is the largest fascination company in the world. They found her a monthly Ortega. One point was actually the sixth wealthiest man on earth, accusing the law
just brand in the world right, large largest, fast fashion, ran in the world of stealing. My intellectual property is scary. It's terrifying in this David and Goliath story, Tuesday, summoned all her courage and through a stone at the giant.
I didn't flinch, barely even noticed and got a letter back. It basically sad like we're, beg your let all like what you want to know about it. Nobody knows about me, you are when most people bought those Tuesday knockoffs firms are they had no idea. They were knockoffs at all to fight for her own integrity, Tuesday filed suit against into Turks having a loss. It is not very fun. Also. The legal costs me nothing to sorrow to a small designer. Its considerable good lawyers are so expensive. I mean battle years or so you know it's just exhausting to have two
insistently defend. What is legally yours.
You think he's day can legally say about the situation. Now is that it was resolved to their mutual satisfaction anticlimactic. I know
The only thing Tuesday can legally say about the situation now is that it was resolved to their mutual satisfaction anticlimactic, I know, but the kicker is it's not like
Tuesday, can relax. Now we'll announced
Lastly, it is happening again actually burst God. Another company by an attack to Andorra has infringed on one of the same designs were now on a hat.
Was a little heart and inside it said mixed emotions club. It's
frustrating in its exhausting, but I ask
I feel like an if I dont can
a you to defend my brand and
and my intellectual property, this will continue happening to me.
And it will happen. Other people to this happens all the time.
All the time, everyone working as a designer knows it to the point where its.
Early unavoidable in
three. The rules around trademark are supposed to be a bit of a trade off. Yes, these laws may prevent independent designers like Dapper Dan from re mixing other people's images, but these laws are also supposed to protect designers like Tuesday from having their original images ripped off and he stopped gaps. Just aren't working the bigger
wealthier party always seems to win its devastating
the little designer on either side of the law on Tuesday
its cotton litigation for years and years and Dapper Dan has to go underground for decades,
That was my reaction.
Opposition that I counted not dig it. Man,
because they re the meal cages which all do this is what I do after two
twenty years underground, driving across all the major black cities in America. Something really
unexpected thrust, Dapper Dan back into the spotlight? It was me
If twenty seventeen, when Gucci sent a jacket down the runway for their crews, collection, was a fairy
distinctive jacket with a black.
Torso in huge puffy leather balloon sleeves covered in Jeez. This jacket looked
almost exactly like a design Dan made back in the eighties really like,
If you look at the images of dapper Dan original and good she's version of the jacket, Gucci very obviously indirectly knocked him off a hundred percent. Definitely- and
Unlike what dapper Dan had been doing good, she wasn't re, mixing something old into something new.
They just made an exact replica and, while Gucci
call the federal marshals on Dapper Dan Dapper Dan,
Have that option and it was not.
Because Gucci is big and dapper Dan is small. It's because what Gucci did is perfectly
go the design and on the american system is fully copy of gucci. Wasn't copying
dimensional image, it wasn't it
logo or a pattern. They were copying the design of the garment, the sheep and the cut and the material and you
totally just do that the American passionately is very, very successful. It makes a lot of money, it's worth
lied in its reach, its done very well
over the last few decades, and yet the core
idea the design can be copied by anyone and he's got paid by anyone. If you come up with
a cool sleeve or a really different, looking collar. You have no claim to it in the american copyright system. If you come up with something that's useful or technologically innovative, like maybe it's a new kind of
sweat winking fabric. Maybe you could get a patent in theory like
a unique kind of toggle about could be patented. You don't have to be non obvious. A novel is a bunch of is a much higher hurdle to get a patent, but otherwise no
all designs are fair game. The argument for this lack of regulation is that it keeps the fashion cycle churning. After all, a trend means a thing that everyone,
is copying new styles proliferate and spread, and we all go shopping in new styles. Proliferating spread and we all got shopping in new styles proliferate and spread, and we all go shopping. Yes, sir, what copying does is unable the fashion cycles of psychosis coming into fashion and going out it enables them to move more quickly. Cholera, Stoa and his co author, Chris Brigman, make this argument in their book. The knock off economy in fashion, everyone copies each other. All the time.
Because the clothing industry runs on a fuel concocted of desire and trend proliferation. You might buy a new phone every few years because the technology improves, but shirts generally don't get better at shooting. You consume as your taste, changes and designers have to appeal to what you like and what style is.
And so they steal from each other. Sometimes she was a good view of like genome hopping as their Asimov success, and it's a good thing or its part of the ether we just let it happen the little easier when you're a really big company to do that when you are small firm, so little tougher.
Every couple of years. New legislation is brought forward to make american fashion law more strict and it always falls through
and Professor Osceola argues that the reason is fashion? Copyright is a double edged sword. If you tighten up the rules to protect independent designers, you also tighten up the rules to protect major fast.
Houses who stand to gain far more than they have to lose. He argues that a fashion copyright was written more strictly and or enforced more heavily. It could have.
I'd cultural ripple effects will this is really an idea that I dont want to claim it's a colleague of ours at and why you Barton Baby, who
Billy first talked about this, but sumptuary
it's in the past dictated who could wear watts and only certain classes, people could where certain clothing and stricter fashioned law could function like modern sanctuary codes and world with much
stricter fashion copyright, if you wanted to where something new and cool or trendy right now, you couldn't. Unless you want to pay
hundreds of dollars for the authentic trends.
Thing designer peace, even if you made your own version, if you showed a particular kind of dress or blouse inspired by something you saw Instagram you could be sued for infringe.
And so one of the great things about the freedom to copy that we currently have. Is it
to designs so
really popular design comes out of, let's say products at a very high price point
The average person, let alone a poor person, could never forget the bills,
knock off the design means that they too can wear that design and they
access to it, although, let's not take a democracy of goods, is an actual form of democracy.
You know our world is already fractured into tears. People who take the bus and people who take a lift first class business class and extra legume, those who can actually afford a two thousand dollar bag and those who buy them on canal street. The designers who are big enough to protect their work and those who aren't so are you upset when he saw them. No, are expected unnumbered even to this day,
We expect people play feel dapper Dan himself had grown accustomed to injustice, but as soon as photos of good she's jacket hit the internet black twitter was like wait. Wait wait, wait, wait, but with a hit
while, as that powerful
I never had a voice before the online fashion world was outraged. People who remembered the jacket dredged it up again,
dapper Dan was back on everyone's lips for the first time in decades, old social media store hidden. People came for me with real this fashion. Ideas came from a torrent of internet outrage, was directed towards gucci for copying, dapper, Dan and so good.
He did something very, very smart.
They reached out to Dapper Dan, only a few months later in December
twenty thousand and seventeen, and they offer down a position as a designer, but with
fleet and absolute autonomy. This unheard of right now, Dapper Dan, is doing exactly what he did before still experimenting and re mixing and making very expensive custom garments, except now he can only use gucci symbols.
The delay Harlem, has a little gucci sign out front. So the big I still kind of winds, but they were
Dapper Dan into the club
Dapper Dan is one of the most influential mines of the twentieth century is a success story, he's a name, in other words, he's a brand
Of course, people are knocking off vineyards
one up to me and show me did not of Babylon
that they did personal point really small way.
Well. What do you think we should? I think when I was. What should I say: look I'm one guy
good she's, a multinational corporation fin these early multinational corporal? They can't stop. It
That's gonna happen, you don't let it be: None Ribicoff palm peace, pay,
Mr there's poetry,
Painted on the way,
Articles of interest was written and performed by every troublemaker edited by
has proved, with additional editing by Emmett Fitzgerald, scored by RE royal fact checked by Tom CALL.
End of additional fact, checking by Graham Asia Mix and
production by Sharif. Youssef with additional mixing by Catherine, Raimondo and Sean Rio are open,
in closing songs are biased, Sammy, special thanks. This episode to Chris
men and Aerial Eliah inside support and at its from the hole
on nine p, I team, including Joe
Rosenberg in Lay Abbe, Madonna, Kirkwall, Stead, Delaney Hall and Katy Mingle
and roman Mars is the real Mccoy
This whole series,
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Some most of us can't afford an entire designer outfit, so you
I buy some quote unquote: cheaper accessories from the same brand
a handbag or sunglasses, but the most exciting.
The way to a brand is probably a bottle of her
because a very, very difficult for for most people to buy a two thousand dollar per shoes or
most everybody can afford, and eighty five dollar bottle of perfume Chandler. Where is the author of the perfect sent and the former perfume critic for the New York Times? Designers
and fashion labels realise that they could create these things and they would be. The perfect emblem
of the brand where they didn't have to lower their prices of their dresses and their shoes and all other stuff, but they could have a piece of the brand that was accessible to mass audience. Perfume
is a massive industry. Perfume is the
deficient machine ever created in the history of the world for turning
brand and fame into cash. It is in
meant, you wear it on your skin. You know, and it is more intimate, including clothing, even its it is associated with a brand with a famous person. There is an intimacy there
but it's not like these brands are famous people are mixing their signature sense themselves, your
article of interest is perfume
Transcript generated on 2020-06-10.