With his eponymous store on 125th Street in Harlem, Dapper Dan pioneered streetwear in the early 1980s by co-opting luxury branding from the likes of Louis Vuitton and MCM and designing original menswear with high-end detail—including exquisite leathers, furs, and skins.

First drawing neighborhood hustlers and friends, Dan eventually outfitted rappers and other celebs of the time, such as Eric B & Rakim and Mike Tyson, to name a few.

Now, nearly thirty years after entering the clothing game, Dan is plotting his return to the public eye. The reclusive designer recently sat down with Life +Times to discuss his career—alongside childhood friend Pee Wee Kirkland—retracing Harlem history in the process.