Puma brings the warmth of one of fashion’s greatest innovators.
On Friday, the German sports brand unveiled a four-piece capsule collection called Puma x Dapper Dan, featuring classics updated by the New York legend. Named one of Time’s Most Influential People, “Dap” is known for creating signature ’80s artists for top-selling rappers like LL Cool J and Salt-N-Pepa. Working closely with his Harlem atelier, the designer’s new premium riffs on Puma T7 tracksuits, Clyde sneakers, and embellished shirts celebrate the ever-evolving fusion of streetwear and luxury.
In this first drop of the capsule collection, three pieces—apart from the T-shirt—bear a special monogram created by Dap to give the pieces a distinctive look. From 1982 to 1992, Dapper Dan Boutique in Harlem became known for selling similar logo-wrapped pieces that uniquely placed the iconic monogram logos of Louis Vuitton, Fendi, and Gucci. Dap told Robb Report via Zoom exactly how similar imagery and symbolism were used to achieve the capsule’s bold results.
“The main catalyst for Puma was Puma himself,” said the designer, wearing a striking logo-print Gucci blazer. “I changed it from a kitten cat to an aggressive cat.” The designer revealed that future costumes will include costumes and other clothing “designed around a cat.” However, the pieces in the first offering feature a monogram print in predominantly orange, red, and blue hues with an embellished DDP script, creating a statement that matches Dap’s iconic design history.
The Puma x Dapper Dan collaboration also celebrates the 10th anniversary of the German sports manufacturer’s Clyde sneaker. The Clyde was designed as a basketball sneaker and made famous by NBA champion Walt Frazier. It was popular with NYC B-Boys in the 80s and made headlines when the Beastie Boys wore them to concerts in the 90s. The Dap boldly offers a new look with refined details such as premium leather and jacquard, a molded plaque on the heel with embossed co-branding, and a leather contour strip adorned with crystal hardware.
Given his long-standing relationship with the world of music and high-end clothing, we asked Dap to reflect on how hip-hop and luxury have co-existed over time. “In the beginning, the whole culture was created by gangsters,” he said. “When it moved to hip-hop artists, it really started to change — and it was individualistic at first. I think hip-hop gave [luxury brands] a different reality.
With the collaboration, Dap intentionally used his connection to culture and streetwear to create pieces for the “average street kid” and anyone else who wants to flaunt their crazy designs for less. Dap remembers telling Puma, “I’m going down the stairs, but I’m not leaving the building,” meaning he wasn’t interested in doing anything that didn’t meet his high quality standards. The first selection of drops will be priced from just $70 to $300 and will be available exclusively at Kith stores and Kith.com starting October 29th.
The clothes corresponded to Dapper Dan’s timeless interpretations of the logomania that hit almost every luxury house. Tracksuits, oversized puffer jackets, and classic Puma trainers were emblazoned with Dap’s monogram and finished with studded logos bearing the fashion pioneer’s name and initials.
“It’s good for me to come in now to be able to align with such a strong brand that represents us as well,” Dapper Dan tells Complex from his studio. “This is the biggest thing for me since I started making clothes for rap. We are at the center of a new era in sports.
Dapper Dan is also a member of The Collective, a group of creators, influencers and influencers. Storytellers Puma highlights in video campaigns that describe each member’s impact on culture. Members of the collective, which includes designers such as Rhuigi Villaseor and filmmaker Hype Williams, will also personally select emerging creative work from among the younger generation to provide $20,000 in scholarships, mentorship, and support for eight months.
“For me, fashion is a platform that I can use to solve a bigger problem,” says Dapper Dan. “And I tell young men in Harlem all the time, ‘Look, I’m not here to put on young bodies.’ I’m here to dress young minds. I use fashion to do that. For Dapper Dan, it’s clear that the mentoring element was just as important as the clothes in his collaboration with Puma.
Days after a surprise appearance at New York Fashion Week, Dapper Dan was the guest of honor. at SoHarlem’s 11th anniversary party.
The East Harlem incubator offers spaces for artisans, young color designers and other creative entrepreneurs to micro-grow businesses and earn livable wages. Dressed by SoHarlem-backed East Harlem fashion designer Javier Valencia, Dapper Dan surprised event attendees by revealing that he chose Mario Miguelito as his mentor at Puma.
Miguelito is a Bronx-based fashion designer who graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology. The designer launched his label Void Asylum in 2020, shortly after starting a design practice in SoHo, where he first met Dapper Dan.