New York, the city that never sleeps, was best described to me by a local this way: “Everybody is just trying to make a way." Everybody is hustling, got a side hustle, and it’s strictly business and money talks. From the money on Wall Street, to tour guides slanging weed, to buskers on the trains and the homeless asking for a dollar and prayer, everyone has his sales pitch, and it's on point.
After arriving in my hostel in grimy Chinatown in what would have to be the worst conditions I have stayed in after a very long time, I went and peeped into the fashion district in Lower Manhattan known as SoHo, which is full of retail outlets of every major brand. However, hipster or trendy wasn't what I was in NYC for.
I was there for my love of streetwear. SoHo is home to the flagships of Diamond Supply Co, Supreme, and The Hundreds. My timing was perfect: weekly Supreme drops were arriving, where they release a brand-new piece every Thursday and lead die-hard Supreme fans to line up for days, camping out, with security guards keeping everything in check.
After getting through the hype of Supreme and a couple of other shops, I came across the more relaxed and chill vibe of Diamond Supply Co, the latest out of the three flagships. It has everything you would expect from Nick Diamond and his team: dope music, dope fit out, and everything finished with a touch of class. I kicked it with the staff for a minute, and we talked everything streetwear, NYC, and general clothing hustle.
After my SoHo visit I wanted to go a little bit deeper into roots of New York, so I headed uptown to Harlem, which was widely known for its crack cocaine epidemic through the 80s and 90s, and featured in movies such as Paid in Full & American Gangster.
It was overcast and I was on the subway when I noticed the shift: compared to the clean train station of Wall Street, there were the housing projects, and the characteristic locals on the corner. One couldn't help but wonder life was like back in those decades growing up in Harlem.
From Harlem I took the Brooklyn Bridge to Brooklyn and got guided tours through the different hoods of that part of town, one that’s divided up generally into ethnic communities. I came to Brooklyn with a purpose, which was to see the Marcy Projects, home to no other than the likes of Notorious B.I.G. and Jay Z. It was a Saturday night; it was raining and the police was patrolling.
My experience of the streetwear and fashion in NYC was this: you can dress however you like, be whoever you like, and it’s like no one will even notice.
From the homeless asking for a prayer or a bottle of water and the dealers slanging god knows what, to the Wall Street brokers and the woman on 42nd Street walking around with no shirt on and asking for tips for a photo… One thing is for certain: if you move to New York, you better get your hustle right.