The Glow Up 50: For the Love of Dap

It’s no small thing to have an award named in your honor, but the designer known as Dapper Dan is no small entity—in fact, he’s larger than life. The journalist turned self-taught couturier born Daniel Day is the epitome of a renaissance man, staging his own reinvention more than once in his 76 years on Earth, and always doing it in style.

That’s why, when we considered a lifetime achievement award upon the 2020 launch of our first-ever celebration of Black tastemakers, The Glow Up 50, Dapper Dan was the first of many worthy recipients to come to mind. His imitable hustler’s acumen elevated hip hop’s look in tandem with the genre itself in the 1980s. Nearly 40 years later, he reinvigorated both his own brand and Gucci’s image through their collaborative atelier in his native Harlem—and the designer subsequently guided the legacy brand through its own racial reckoning, creating more avenues for young Black and brown talent to enter. Somehow, he still found the time to pen a bestselling memoir, and, most recently, put his own stylish spin on the iconic Ken doll.


In other words, Dapper Dan is a legend—and when considering how to convey an honor of the utmost respect, it only felt right to give him “dap.” Thus, The Glow Up 50's Dap Award was born, and granted to honorees who have made an indelible and enduring impact on the worlds of beauty and fashion. While its annual recipients may change (shout out to this year’s honoree, Dame Pat McGrath), it remains a standing tribute to the man who brought streetwear to luxurious and logo-driven new heights, while never losing his own individualist stride. Just to remind you exactly how dapper the man is, The Root’s Webby Award-winning team has put together a fitting tribute to our award’s namesake.

(Video production: Felice Léon)

Maiysha Kai is managing editor of The Glow Up, host of The Root Presents: It's Lit! podcast and Big Beauty Tuesdays, and your average Grammy-nominated goddess next door. May I borrow some sugar?