It’s no secret that finding your way into the fashion industry as a person of color can seem like a never-ending battle.

Saturday at ESSENCE Fashion House, TV personality Bevy Smith, founder of Harlem’s Fashion Row Brandice Daniel and legendary designer Dapper Dan sat down to discuss why it’s hard for Black designers to become household names.

“The biggest problem for Black people is when we are entering [the] fashion [industry] we don’t have that legacy money,” said Smith.

Dapper Dan–whose birth name is Daniel Day–took matters into his owns hands by created an empire built on custom designs. He managed to transition from the a local talent to working with Gucci and opening up a storefront location in Harlem.

Dap’s current partnership with the Italian house allows him to create culturally relevant moments while serving as an advisor for the luxury brand.

“It’s about the personality of the individual,” he explained. “If you can’t generate enough excitement to push your brand from a grassroots level then you’re going to have to lean on someone else.”

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