If you shopped for menswear exclusively in Hell’s Kitchen, you’d be limited to tank tops, disposable club clothes, deep v-necks tees that drop to the navel and lollipop colored shirts, shorts and pants from the Skittles Collection. For smart, handsome, well-crafted accessories on a more sophisticated level, like regular ties, bow ties, cufflinks, socks, hats, handkerchiefs, pocket squares, braces, belts, cummerbunds, flasks, business card holders, watch straps, wallets, grooming notions and more… you’d be at a big loss in this neighborhood. Until now.
On a recent walk along the north side of West 49th Street between Ninth and Tenth Avenues, I passed a storefront that had been vacant for ages. On this particular walk, something was quite different. There were lights on. Not only was the window warmly lit, but there were gorgeous ties and other handsome men’s accessories in the window. I looked up and saw the sign: “Fine and Dandy Shop: accessories for dapper guys.” What??? It seemed I had just stumbled upon a welcome oasis in a menswear desert. Even though I had just recently spent more than I should on assorted accessories, the Devil made me go in.
To step into Fine and Dandy is to almost step into another time. From the mild, masculine scent of woody musk in the air, to the sound of Chet Baker’s trumpet, you’re transported to a real man’s room of taste and refinement. The intimate space is at once warm, inviting and riddled with an exquisitely curated collection of almost every well-dressed man’s accessory you can think of. Everywhere you look, there is something to see, from the actual merchandise to the perfectly chosen vintage trims and touches that finish the room.
The proprietors and partners are Matt Fox, a former theater manager, and Enrique Crame, III (pronounced Kra-May), a manager with Massimo Dutti, a division of Zara. After opening online at fineanddandyshop.com in 2008, they finally made a dream into a reality by opening their brick and mortar shop in the fall of 2012 at 445 West 49th Street in Hell’s Kitchen, NYC. The result is fantastic.
A great percentage of their line, like ties, scarves, handkerchiefs and more, is made in the U.S.A., with some even made right here in New York City. And in addition to the wearables, they also feature a gorgeous selection of shiny knick knacks like flasks, money clips, barware and grooming gear.
My personal favorite surprise at Fine and Dandy was an endangered men’s undergarment I rarely (if ever) see at men’s shops: sock garters. Yes, sock garters! I was so jacked to see them that I might have squealed a little when I noticed them. As a stickler for showing no leg skin in a business, dress or formal situation, I’m a huge fan of sock garters. They’re perhaps a tad old man-ish by some standards, but since over-the-calf socks (or any socks that stay up) are harder to find, I think every man should have at least one pair. Fine and Dandy carries several, in an array of colors and patterns.
On one of my recent visits to Fine and Dandy, I spoke with Matt about how it all started and what inspires him. While Matt was working for Jujamcyn as a manager of Broadway theaters and Enrique worked as a manager for Zara, they combined their own passion to the huge wave of interest in more sophisticated menswear on the blogs and on the streets of New York. The online shop was spawned four years ago as an exploratory hobby. After some online success and more great experiences doing pop-up shops at flea markets, particularly after a great run at the Chelsea Market Pop-Up last year, Matt and Enrique spent the greater part of 2012 planning for a brick and mortar space to add to their growing little empire. After some research on spaces in their range, they came upon the 300 square foot jewel on West 49th Street that they now occupy.
Deeply influenced by his grandfather, who taught him the importance of presenting oneself with care and flair, Matt has also been inspired by the likes of Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Gary Cooper, Frank Sinatra and other icons from Hollywood’s golden age. Matt and Enrique have also been heavily influenced by the guys they see on the streets in different pockets of the city, from Brooklyn to the East Village to Chelsea to Hell’s Kitchen, where they also live.
Being fully tuned in to the growing market of younger men who are interested in dressing well, they deliberately designed a very affordable price point for Fine and Dandy. Originally, the top ticket item on their online shop was $50, but they’ve opened up the peak price to just over $100 since opening the physical store, enabling discerning gents of all ages to acquire smart and well-made accents for their casual, work, dress and formal modes. The prices range from $4 for collar extenders to $50 for something like a stud & cufflink formal set all the way to $125 for a really handsome decanter.
I’m sure I’m not alone in expressing my gratitude that Matt and Enrique decided to set up shop in Hell’s Kitchen. Fine and Dandy is a very welcome addition to the neighborhood, providing a fabulous men’s emporium and another terrific local business to support. Do yourself a favor and pay them a visit. And get a pair of sock garters!