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Matt Fox (left) at the established Fine & Dandy store — with Enrique Crame III now next door at his Throwback store. Photo: Phil O’Brien.

Style is timeless, as any customer of Hell’s Kitchen favorite Fine and Dandy knows only too well. Matt Fox and Enrique Crame III’s store is a capsule of class on W49th Street, with a clientele to match.

But like many small businesses, the pandemic hit hard and Fine and Dandy was closed for three months. The partners found different ways to cope — Matt went to the the shop a few hours each day, walking all over the city, clocking about 8 miles daily. Meanwhile, Enrique went weeks without leaving the apartment and there were days he barely got out of bed. But in the midst of his doom scrolling he found a new community on Instagram: sellers and collectors of rare T-shirts from the 1970s to 90s. 

This Grace Jones T-shirt is one of the most valuable in the store. Photo: Phil O’Brien

“When I was in Toronto I used to sell vintage T-shirts to a store near where I lived. I’ve always loved vintage,” said Enrique, who would spend up to 10 hours a day geeking out — watching Instagram Lives dedicated to vintage T-shirts.

Last Fall he took the plunge and began his own weekly online auction, christened Fine and Dandy Throwback. “Each week as we attempt to get back to pre-pandemic sales levels, Enrique’s T-shirt side hustle has been a significant part of that,” said Matt.

Now the online business is getting its own premises, right next door to mothership Fine and Dandy between 9/10th Avenue, thanks to some quick work and the help of a sympathetic landlord. “It’s all happened so quickly — we had a conversation with the landlord only 4 weeks ago!” said Matt.

The new space will be dedicated to Enrique’s Fine and Dandy Throwback and other vintage clothing items which aren’t quite “dandy”. It’ll be open as a showroom by appointment during the week, and open to the public at weekends. “I’m glad we’re open and can be with people again,” said Enrique.

A browse around the store reveals a kaleidoscope of colors and myriad memories, from Ren and Stimpy to vintage Disney. There are some stunning art shirts and rare pieces, including a Grace Jones Tee that’s among the most expensive in the store, and a whole collection of kitsch New York shirts.

As the world slowly tiptoes towards a more sustainable lifestyle, the secondhand clothes market is projected to double in the next five years, according to thredUP, an online thrift store.  

Fine and Dandy are thrilled to be sharing that ethos. “There’s no more stigma to buying vintage,” said Enrique. “Back in the day, it was ‘oh, you’re going through old people’s clothes… gross’ — now the kids are wearing them. Not only that, they’re reselling them through apps. The next thing is that they’re repurposing, cutting up old stuff, piecing it together to create something new — it’s wild!”

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