Dapper Dan Meets Swagger Jack: why stars get caught wearing FAKES

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“My jewelry look fake / My t*tties look BEEEEG”
-Rick Ross

Once upon a time, hip-hop culture lent itself to style mavens in every form. Queen Latifah and Brand Nubian made Afro-centric medallions acceptably chic. Dapper Dan modified Gucci, Chanel and other high-end Euro cloths to fit the outlandish boasting style of rope-chain dons like Kool G Rap and Eric Sermon.

ericbrakimfakes

Meanwhile, fashion designers stalked their urban safari game for inventive clothing trends, color schemes and confident kids in the latest rags.
But then Jim Jones and Cam’ron came along. Behind them, Kanye West and the Polo- imitation clan turned around and did the same thing that  those designers had been doing to them first, for so long: jacking swag heavy.

kanye-west-outfit

So with rappers playing dress-up as colorfully as their counterparts in the wrestling world, what better way to pay tribute to costuming than to bootleg an entire brand’s signature logo?

Harlem Jim couldn’t afford to be outdone by Kanye’s limited edition Louis Vuitton sneaker, so he decided to drape his studio in faux LV leather. This way, as he rolls his Givenchy dutches he’ll have the perfect ambiance to complement his typically slow-witted songs.

rickrossxxlfinal

Rick Ross was also exposed for his choice of the counterfeit LV sunglasses on the XXL magazine cover. Just when we thought he couldn’t do much faker than his corrections-officer-turned-kingpin bio, there he goes on Canal Street buying the latest in affordable accessories.

In this economic climate, can you blame Jimmy and Ricky for taking out LV style mortgages? Even Britney Spears has gotten into the act, posing an imitation Murakami interior as the real thing…that is, until Lawsuit Louie issued the legal notice to politely tap her bank account on the shoulder.

On the bright side, these ridiculous swagger impersonations could lead back to the creative remixing that made hip-hop style worth copying. T-Pain needs his own Bojangles tuxedo line to keep the image of a tap-dancing singer fresh in our cultural memory. And Cam’ron has already laid out the plans for a palatial pink mansion in Malibu as his informal tribute to Barbie’s influence on both his style and bloodshot eyes.

Before we get our knickers in a twist over counterfeiting, we should remember that we live inside a consumer vacuum where styles repeat themselves many times over. There’s a reason Louis Vuitton draws pictures of clothing and Rick Ross records albums. If it were the other way around, we’d be much more surly about the results. So when Kanye and Andre dabble in the world of runway politics, it’s best met with a pardoning grimace than a full-on rebuke.

As long as style is at a premium, the truly florid dressers will rise to the top while the poseurs look on enviously. (Ahem, Sean Carter) The wannabes have a supreme hold on the bootleg game but the kids with the freshest haircuts, newest gear and leadership abilities define how the wannabes feel when they wake up confused and naked in crowded closets.

Jay-Z and Beyonce Knowles attend Cleveland Cavaliers vs New York Knicks game at Madison Square Garden on November 25, 2008 in New York City.

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