Name: Akil Loving
Hometown: New York City
Now Lives: In Harlem, in a fourth-floor studio apartment not far from where he grew up.
Claim to Fame: Mr. Loving is the grandson of Dapper Dan, the Harlem couturier fabled for outfitting gangsters and rap stars in bootlegged Fendi and other designer duds. Turns out, Mr. Loving has been designing in the atelier since high school, and is introducing innovative machines and techniques there. “I would send Dap videos of laser etching and he invested in a huge Trotec Speedy,” Mr. Loving said. “I want to etch Gucci ‘G’s and monograms. It’s special to have something made from scratch with your name on it.”
Big Break: Mr. Loving began working at the atelier during high school, helping design pieces for Diddy, Busta Rhymes and Pharrell. It wasn’t until he outfitted Floyd Mayweather Jr., the flamboyant boxing champion, that he felt like a member of the team. “Floyd would give us so many orders,” Mr. Loving said. “Dap wouldn’t have time, so I would design two or three.” For one ringside look in 2012, Mr. Mayweather Jr. wanted a vest and shorts that evoked a motorcycle jacket. “The one I was most proud of — it was metallic silver and black leather, covered in eyelets,” he said.
Latest Thing: While Mr. Loving is excited to mess around with 3D printing, he is also trying to master classic artisanship. He recently brought an embroidery machine to embellish custom orders. “I designed Omari Hardwick’s suit for the last Met Gala,” he said, referring to the three-piece jacquard suit that Mr. Hardwick, who stars in “Power,” wore last year. “I embroidered ‘Dapper Dan’ all down the trim.”
Next Thing: Mr. Loving recently opened up his own small studio in the Bronx, where he helps upstart fashion brands with customized production. He is also eager to tackle furniture. “You can laser etch into glass,” he said. “Buy a table, pop the glass out, and laser the whole thing.”
Cool Kid: As a student at the James Baldwin School in Manhattan, Mr. Loving was able to wear outfits that his classmates could only dream of. He once borrowed a faux Louis Vuitton jacket that was made-to-order for a customer, only to spill ketchup on it while eating a hamburger. “When Versace did the collaboration with H&M, it was blue, green, and yellow leopard print,” he said. “We did our own Versace silk bomber. I pulled up to high school in the bomber playing Migos’ ‘Versace.’”