BR Q&A: Dapper Studios

I first met Dapper Lou a few years ago when Banana Republic cast him for a NYC-based campaign. During the initial fitting, I was struck—I had followed him because of his style and photography. But in person, he was warm, real and humble. At the shoot, he rolled up on his bike, camera over shoulder, street style-savvy.

Since then, we’ve kept in touch, exchanging texts about work, art and ongoing projects. When Banana Republic decided to launch Legacy Denim—our most authentic jean yet—I instantly thought of Lou. 

In a world running so fast, could we reconnect with those redefining the fabric of culture in a meaningful way? How could we work with legacies in the making and amplify their stories? Could we let these voices tell their stories, in their way—with a universal fabric of denim as their muse? “What will your Legacy be?” was a question I kept asking myself.

One text message, one phone conversation and Lou was in.

Together, we quickly developed the project, and naturally it began to evolve in cast, location, form— but one thing stayed constant: Lou’s desire to express the authenticity of his narrative and his precise approach to delivering it. The collective of artists who worked on this production, both in front of and behind the camera, radiated passion, vision and craft—not to mention impeccable personal style. Their innate connection was genuine and infectious—it’s clear that their individual and cumulative endeavors shine because of that.

It was truly an honor to work with Dapper Studios on this campaign. In this busy world, there is still space for enduring friendships, true inspiration and purposeful work.

Jen Matic
Senior Director of Brand Concept, Photography and Social Creative

*This campaign was shot in Flatbush, Brooklyn where Dapper Lou and Joekenneth grew up and still live and work in.

BR: Tell us a little about yourself and your creative work.

Dapper: I’m Haitian-American and grew up with a very big imagination. From childhood, creativity has always been deeply rooted in me. I developed my eye and experiences the moment that I started traveling. I believe that there is love in the world and I want my work to focus on that. 

Joekenneth: I was also born and raised in Brooklyn by immigrant parents from Haiti. Life in the city gave me a panoramic view of the world and its diverse, cultural narratives. Being immersed in that environment whet my appetite for storytelling. 

Chermelle: I grew up in Los Angeles, then moved to New York after I finished college. I come from a creative and cultural family. My parents made sure we had a balanced diet of activities, excursions and adventures growing up. Who I get to be, and all of my curiosities stem from my parents. I’m always in search of answers about any and everything. 

Chermelle in Banana Republic, styled with her own accessories.

What inspires and drives you creatively?
Dapper: Nature, color, lighting and texture inspire my work. I want my work to focus on the stories that are often untold or misunderstood.

Joekenneth: For me, writing is mainly a cathartic practice. I write to make sense of myself and the world around me. Life in the city gave me a panoramic view of the world and its diverse, cultural narratives.  

Chermelle: I’m driven to tell stories by feeling responsible as a human, a documentarian and a hearer of stories to relay them. We, the people, are what make culture. And culture has codes of communication: mine include image-making, writing and storytelling. 

Dapper Studios is a photo collaborative of emerging talent, especially creatives of color. As a collective, the team brings their cultural traditions and stories to the work they create. Why did you start Dapper Studios?

Dapper: I wanted to create a community-focused network with like-minded creatives. We’re not working as competitors but rather as complements to each other. Collaboration is important and sometimes you need multiple people to bring your ideas to life.

Our Legacy Denim is about character and craft, so it only seems fitting to partner with you for the launch. You’ve also built your reputation around character and craft. Why are these two traits important to you?

Dapper: Character is what sets you apart from the crowd. There is a level of personality and energy you bring to the table without saying a word. And with craft, you start adding in details that are unique to you. Your craft is built over time and continues to evolve.  

Chermelle: Character is who we are. Craft is how we are. They are both tenets and frameworks for how to create work, which by extension over time and consistency creates a legacy.  

Character is who we are. Craft is how we are.”

On Joekenneth (L) and Dapper (R): Legacy Denim in Rinse Dark Wash, styled with their own accessories.

Our Legacy Denim looks like it has a story to tell. Your poem speaks about craft and story. Can you break down the poem for us? 

Joekenneth: When it comes to legacy, I immediately think of the qualities and corresponding actions a person is remembered by. So I wanted to find a way to express that composite of intangibles while keeping in mind the story behind the denim. The fabric of who we are takes into account what was and what is. The future, although unknown, is being formed at present. In this way, the poem aims to acknowledge our creativity while challenging us all to empower and inspire the generation to come. 

The poem ends with the question: What will your Legacy be? As a creator, what creative footprint do you hope your work leaves?

Dapper: I want to create timeless work that is universally beautiful for a vast audience, that will inspire generations to come. 

Joekenneth: I want to live a life that will outlive me. 

Chermelle: It is my hope that my footprint is one that is true, pure, accessible and honest: of a person, by a person, for the people. 

Experience Legacy for yourself here. Then show us your Legacy by tagging #BRLegacy, #BRMens and @bananarepublicmens on Instagram.