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Quartzy: the bodega cats edition

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Happy Friday!

This has been the first New York Fashion Week I’ve observed from my new LA homebase, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t experience a smidge of FOMO. But, as Colson Whitehead wrote in 2001: “Maybe we become New Yorkers the day we realize that New York will go on without us.” And go on without us it does.

My favorite part of covering Fashion Week as a reporter was never really the front row stuff. It’s the in-between bits I’m nostalgic for: riding freight elevators to hidden venues, model-spotting on the subway, grabbing a slice of pizza on the way home.

And likewise, watching from afar, it wasn’t the headline-making shows that made me miss my old city, but rather the quintessential New York moments—like at Maryam Nassir Zadeh’s show, when joggers in dad shorts continued to circumnavigate an outdoor running track, even after models had made it their runway, with Solange playing a live soundtrack.

Image copyright: Getty Images/JP Yim

The show goes on! There has been much hand-wringing over the future of New York Fashion Week. Once, it was a trade show for the industry. Now, it’s an entertainment juggernaut. And while Fashion Week still brings $900 million to New York City, noteworthy designers have been steadily opting out—Thom Browne, Joseph Altuzarra, Rodarte, and Proenza Schouler among them.

Image copyright: Getty/Santiago Felipe

But a new event on the city’s calendar might redeem our faith in fashion’s power to transform, empower, impress—and sell! RuPaul’s first DragCon NYC, a two-day extravaganza that opened with Marc Jacobs co-hosting a drag ball to benefit Planned Parenthood, brought tens of thousands of fans to the Javits Center for panels, performances, merchandise, photo ops, and a surprise wedding.

“Think about what this is going to look like in two years, in 20 years,” beauty entrepreneur Edward Bess told Vogue. “If fashion could have half as much fun as we’re having here today, they’d be A-OK.”

Meanwhile, in Harlem. Daniel Day, aka Dapper Dan, is having a moment. Day was a tailor to hip-hop royalty in the 1980s and 1990s, famous for dressing artists such as Eric B. and Rakim, KRS-One, and Salt-N-Pepa in logo-emblazoned, unlicensed remixes of the luxury labels of the era. Those luxury companies effectively litigated Day out of business in 1992, as Marc Bain wrote this week for Quartz.

Image copyright: Instagram/@dapperdanharlem

So it was ironic when, 25 years later, designer Alessandro Michele sent out an oversized fur bomber jacket with balloon sleeves at Gucci’s resort show in May. The jacket looked a lot like one that Dapper Dan had made for the Olympic sprinter Diane Dixon in the 1980s—a fact that Dixon herself pointed out on Instagram. Gucci immediately owned up to the appropriation, calling the jacket an “homage” in a statement, and declaring that Michele wanted to collaborate with Dapper Dan.

Image copyright: Gucci/Glen Luchford

This week, a project was announced to bring the story full-circle. With campaign photos starring Dapper Dan himself in oversized bow ties and windowpane plaid suits with deep-cuffed pants, Gucci—one of the very labels that helped put his shop out of business decades ago—announced it will sponsor a second-generation bespoke studio for Dapper Dan, and collaborate on a capsule collection to be sold in Gucci stores next spring.

Given how much Gucci’s styling recalls the heyday of Dapper Dan, a true collaboration seems the very least that Day is due.

Bodega cats, unite. A Silicon Valley startup with an ill-advised name lit up the internet this week when it announced its business would sell city-dwellers essential sundries from camera-monitored cabinet-style vending machines called—wait for it—Bodegas.

Image copyright: Flickr/Timothy Krause

Yes, bodegas, as in the mom-and-pop shops on almost every block of New York City, where a person might purchase an egg sandwich, a roll of toilet paper, or a light-and-sweet $1 cup of coffee. (Fun fact: the Spanish word bodega originally referred to a ship’s hold.)

This week many took to Twitter to pay homage to “loosie” cigarettes, bodega cats, and the other joys of their favorite bodegas. “You order an iced coffee and the guy just puts ice in a hot coffee,” wrote Quartz growth editor Beth Ponsot, “and you drink it anyway because goddamnit this is NYC so keep moving.”

Image copyright: Reuters/Eric Thayer

Bodega (the startup) has since apologized publicly to anyone its name offended. But the fact is, rising rents, chain stores, and Amazon pose a much greater threat to actual bodegas than bourgeois vending machines. So anyone outraged by startups threatening to replace mom-and-pop shops should keep frequenting those shops.

If you’re not in New York but long for the bodega experience, may I recommend this excellent 2015 episode of the NPR show Latino USA, “A Day at the Bodega“—which I listened to walking in LA.

Finally, I was pleased to see that Marc Jacobs closed out New York Fashion Week with exquisitely layered, turban-topped ladies in Birkenstock-style sandals beneath big, bright coats.

Image copyright: Reuters/Eduardo Munoz

Maybe I was just New York-nostalgic, but at first glance this look said to me: I’m running downstairs for a loosie, then I’ll finish getting ready. Don’t even bother, you look awesome.

Have a great weekend!


Image copyright: Getty/Frederick M. Brown

On Sunday night the Emmy Awards will air on CBS in the US at 8pm EST. The comedian Stephen Colbert will host for the first time, and Quartz TV reporter Adam Epstein says the showdown between Netflix’s Stranger Things and HBO’s Westworld will be the big battle of the night. Other nominees will bring the stars I personally long to see—Veep, Atlanta, The Handmaid’s Tale, and Big Little Lies among them. For awkward interviews and gown-gawking, E! Live from the Red Carpet starts at 6pm EST.