Fine and Dandy: 5 Questions for Matt Fox

The Fine and Dandy Shop’s Matt Fox. Courtesy Rose Callahan.

It’s no wonder The Fine and Dandy Shop’s Matt Fox has a both a flair for the dramatic and a keen business sense. After graduating from Ithaca College in 1995 he moved to New York City to pursue a career theatre management, where he spent 12 years on Broadway managing Jujamcyn Theaters. Always interested in men’s style, Fox, along with his partner, Enrique, had fantasized about opening a men’s shop of their own. Intimidated by the potential start-up cost of opening a physical store in pricey Manhattan they, like many entrepreneurs in the 21st century, turned to the Web. “In 2008, given the explosion of menswear online from blogs to web stores (and sites like we decided to give it a try online,” says Fox. The Fine and Dandy Shop web store debuted shortly after, offering dandyish accessories for the young urban elite. It was both a stylistic and financial success. Fox left the theater in 2010 to concentrate on his e-commerce endeavor full time.

If publishing a hardback book is a kind of vindication for the blogger, then opening a brick-and-mortar shop must be something similar for the e-commerce entrepreneur. Suddenly, you’ve arrived. And The Fine and Dandy Shop is set to open in mid-town Manhattan later this fall. Fox, 38, has also been tapped to bring his knowledge of things dandiacal to an event entitled Dandy Talk this Friday, October 5 at the National Arts Club in New York City.

We recently sat down with Fox (virtually, at least) for a little dandy talk of our own.

Michael Mattis: When did you first hear the word “dandyism?” Who are your sartorial and social role models?

Matt Fox: When I was a young child I remember my Mother referring to my Grandfather as a bit of a dandy. He was a farmer but always enjoyed dressing well. I often refer to the influence my Grandfather had on me for his style. Also, old Hollywood movie stars like Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly. They were always dressed impeccably and had a gentlemanly way about themselves.

MM: What are the essential elements of the dandy today?

MF: What I think is so interesting is the broad interpretation of dandyism today. And we love that. We have friends who look like they’ve walked out of a movie from 1907 as well as Brooklyn hipsters who rock handlebar mustaches, bow ties, and full sleeve tattoos. I think it’s about being influenced and having an understanding and appreciation of another, simpler time.

MM: The Fine and Dandy Shop trades on the idea that young men are getting smarter in their dress. Are you truly seeing a resurgence of male elegance if not formality? What are some of the trends you’re seeing now?

MF: Absolutely. We often talk about the shift away from formality we’ve gone through for the past several decades and luckily we seem to have hit rock bottom and are on the upswing. For many young guys dressing well is a new and exciting thing for them. We’ve definitely seen bow ties and tie bars blow up in the last few years.

MM: If you could sum up your philosophy of dandyism in a few words…

MF: Taking the time to put one’s self together both in appearance and demeanor.

MM: Can you give us a brief synopsis of what you’ll cover at the Dandy Talk event?

MF: We plan to talk about the origin of dandyism, the place the dandy has in the modern world, the reasons for the resurgence of dandyism in the last few years, and of course each of our own individual paths towards dandyism.

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