Every part of New York City is a labyrinth that is not only it’s own grid on an actual map, but it’s own world inside a world. For long as I’ve spent in The City, I am still discovering new versions of it. Tonight, I was going to see my city through the lens of one of my favorite brands in a whole new way. This is Del Toro’s NYC.
If you’re not from here, you probably think all of NYC is Times Square, or more recently, Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Where dudes on unicycles host Mumford & Sons look-a-like contests at conflict free coffee joints the way Nathan’s hosts hotdog eating contests.
There’s far more in The Apple than that.
The Village, SoHo, NoHo, The Bowery, St. Mark’s Place, Lower East Side, Hell’s Kitchen, Chelsea – these are the parts that had my heart from a young age. There’s a creative energy, a glitz and a fuck you grit that all intersect organically. High fashion white spaces are next to seedy porn theaters. There are iconic bars that, from first impressions, look like a homeless shelter with busted doors, project housing, methadone clinics or Halal butchers. Then, you say the right password to the man in the cut, and you’ll be transported to Baz Luhrmann’s 1921. You’ll find the best Prohibition Era cocktail for the price of a used Camry, and you’ll also find the best 4 buck chopped cheese sub with some variation of onion sauce around the corner that makes you look at the 90 year old Dominican lady who made like “Why the fuck don’t you have a Michelin Star for this shit?”
That’s my favorite part of the city. The East Village had my heart. They renamed E. 2nd and Bowery “Joey Ramone Way”. Before gentrification, this was punk rock, and shooting galleries meets art galleries, and the hood had the balls to reimagine fashion and culture. It didn’t chase the money. It created the shit that those with money chased.
Del Toro is in that vein.
Me and my brother JayLee Jordan got super cool with the Del Toro lads. Every now and again, you meet people you click with. Because the internet has given a fucking megaphone to so many idiots you forget that quality and elevated creation are still an actual thing. Hanging with the homies at Del Toro always remind me that the aforementioned qualities are still tangible.
We rounded the corner on Greene St. heading towards Astor Place, where the massive Louis Vuitton store looks like Jeff Koons created a Christmas miracle movie for Hallmark. Del Toro was next door, flag waving in the cold late autumn wind, line down the block.
The Del Toro Pop Up shop will be there only until January, and in just a few short months it’s already made a splash. It’s one part white space gallery, one part Fiat ad, and one part a commercial for vintage euro tourism.
Jay and I were greeted at the door by our dear friend Andrew Forbes, one of the owners of the brand, and partners with creative director/founder Matthew Chevallard. It’s nice to be cool with the owners when the line is down the block and it’s November in the north east and shit.
Tonight, NBA star/villain Draymond Green – from the NBA’s biggest star/villain conglomerate Golden State Warriors, was in the house. It wasn’t a meet and greet. Because Del Toro is not a baseball card shop in Iowa. It was a hang. Come shoe shopping, come kick it, come have a glass of Scotch with the homies and talk basketball and fashion.
Me, Forbes, Jay and Matt talked for a bit with the young homie Griff, who runs operations for the companies and gets flown back and forth from Miami to Manhattan. They all seem to. Forbes shared some amazing new pieces that have just dropped, but, the night of, did not yet.
Andrew Forbes and Draymond are close, Dray has been a fan of the brand and an ambassador to and for Del Toro and pro athletes alike. He’s a culture plug. And I, as a Celtics’s fan, needed to get over hating him cuz he and I were about to go shoe shopping together.
I walked up to Dray and all the one liners about his boys not being able to hold my Celtics a few nights back all disappeared. All I said was – “You’re tall as shit bro.”
That’s how I met Dray.
He was a total class act. In my head I remember thinking “I disliked this guy cuz of something as insignificant and arbitrary as a ball club. He is a much better human than myself, and I know it.”
We literally strolled the upper flat of the store and talked shoes. He told me all about how Detroit, where he hails from, is turning around considerably. He named some restaurants I should go to, and said that the stereotypes of 8 Mile have been long gone. It’s a hipster mecca of sorts now. And he is really proud. He sold me on The D.
We discussed shopping and fashion, and then we rapped about Wanderset, and what we’re doing. He really dug the concept and I shared how amped we are to not only have Del Toro on our roster, but craft a narrative together.
I told him any asshole can sell you a t shirt, it’s the stories and the buildup play, the soul, and the energy, that makes it worth something. He agreed fully. We talked about aiming high or not aiming at all. His come up in the league mirrors that mantra.
We spent the night at the pop up, then headed to Blind Barber, the vintage barbershop turned speakeasy with an international collection of books in a small, yet magical enough, little library room. I wanted to steal a book, but they all appeared to be about Belgian chocolates, pre-WW2 French cinema or Art Deco roofs. All of those subjects are far too obscure to risk a larceny 6th charge, especially when you already have a record that looks like a Stephen King novel. We chose instead to partake in the small plates and Old Fashions.
Overall, the experience was a culture capsule if nothing else. Just a few years ago, ball players were wearing 6 XL white t-shirts, fitted caps, and stayed within a certain comfort zone of urban presentation. Anything outside of that box was not considered, not dared, not risked. Every sect of culture had a uniform of conformity.
If you assumed a baller would be rocking velvet slippers at any point in the somewhat near future circa 06-07, you’d be the owner of the best crystal ball ever made. As fate would have it, culture has a funny way of pivoting in ironic ways, and right now, we’re on an adventurous upswing. One that defies boxes and champions the risk. We’re in a moment where creatives are being nodded at by the upper crust in a rather similar way to the renaissance. We can walk on water if we so choose.
Or a least fly off the foul line and pick up the and one en route.