New York

aNYthing to Be Hip


Shopping for a stylish man in his twenties is nearly impossible unless he’s gay or needs a new wallet. In fact, shopping for anything in New York tends to stir up monetary panic, but men’s clothing seems particularly impossible.

With the ancient Gertel’s Bakery on the left and a Chinese grocery store on the right, aNYthing represents a more recent development on Hester Street: the $170 T-shirt.

The store, called “A New York Thing”, comes from Aaron Bondaroff, known as “A-ron the Don,” and even better known as “one of the Kid America guys.”  Kid America was a humorous cable access show that combined street culture with the innocent irreverence of Sesame Street. A-ron hosted a talk show segment for the show. Also on his resume: working with notoriously hip retailers Supreme and Stussy.

The $170 T-shirts do have skulls on them, but that just doesn’t seem like enough to justify the price. At aNYhing, it doesn’t even feel like they want you to buy anything. You can, if you want. No one looks at you in the tiny store unless you’re one of A-ron’s many friends and associates. It seems more like headquarters for the man who is a brand than a retail endeavor.

Women’s stores zero in on a girl’s desire to look good. She wants to be stylish, but the trend of the moment is also what she has been brainwashed into thinking is flattering. The better the clothes fit, the more flattering they are, and that’s something you pay for, or what you try to fake. But for men’s casual clothes, the cuts only vary so much. What’s for sale, at least for young guys who care about these things, is coolness. These men don’t want to hear that they’ll look beautiful if they buy a certain hoodie or pair of sneakers, but wearable status symbols get them every time.

This has always been true, but the sought-after items have spiraled out of control, from Jordans and Kangols to Bape sweatshirts and limited edition Dunks. It used to be just a question of getting it first, since the coveted items were widely available. Now, it’s a challenge to even hear about something before it’s over. Then it is priced beyond imagination. If you’ve heard of it, don’t buy it. If there are more than 100 of them circulating, it’s over. If it is carried in more than one store, forget it. If it wasn’t designed by a 19 year-old Japanese guy, it’s out. And if it’s inexpensive, how could it be exclusive?

It’s hard being a man.

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