Service of Social Media’s Power

June 3rd, 2021

Categories: Fashion, Social Media


Fantasy Explosion booth in Bryant Park

On Memorial Day I visited Urbanspace Market at Bryant Park with its art, collectibles, jewelry, clothing and food from NYC businesses. Bank of America sponsored the “Small Business Spotlight,” allowing minority-owned businesses with revenues of $1 million or less to display wares in rent-free booths. The event remains until June 20.

There was a long line of mostly 20-somethings outside only one booth: Fantasy Explosion. Most of the others were empty. I asked “why the line?” of an attractive young couple near the back of a line that was moving at the speed of a bike with two flat tires. Their answer: “Instagram.” The patience of all these hipsters was ironic because instant is more than most are willing to wait for much given the speed they are used to from their smart devices and food deliveries.

“I never had much hope of finding such a totem until last year,” wrote Jon Caramanica in The New York Times, “when I stumbled upon the Fantasy Explosion Instagram account, which was posting decades-old T-shirts from niche corners of the city — the type of shirts that are given away to people who complete a 5K, or to sanitation workers in the boroughs outside Manhattan, or which you can buy near tourist sites from street vendors.” This was his intro to “Shirts for Lifelong New Yorkers and Those Who Would Like to Pass for One,” with subhead: “Shops like Fantasy Explosion specialize in vernacular vintage, merchandise that conveys cachet and knowledge of the city.”

Caramanica reported that the 30 year old owner Kevin Fallon, originally from Rhode Island, has been in New York for six years. He wrote that the popular vintage shirts are available at an increasing number of stores and that manufacturers and high fashion designers have jumped on the trend. “These high-fashion versions of vernacular forms suggest that there is no obstacle to making the vernacular aesthetic a luxury proposition. But in a climate in which, say, vintage music shirts can command several hundred dollars, local vintage generally offers a more reasonable entry point; almost everything at Fantasy Explosion is under $50.” Note: Prices may have changed since 2019 when the article appeared.

“Wearing these garments is unusually revealing, as if you’re wearing a shirt with your own face on it. It starts conversations, and it’s a kind of recommendation engine,” he wrote.

I still have favorite T-shirts from Jefferson Vineyards in Monticello, Va., New Yorker Magazine, trips abroad and from years of Bard Music Festivals with signatures of featured composers. For space reasons I’ve have had to give too many away. And you?  Have you been inspired to attend an event or visit an exhibitor at a show because you read about it on social media?

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4 Responses to “Service of Social Media’s Power”

  1. Lucrezia Said:

    People are like sheep when it comes to fads. Remember the Hula Hoop? Too many hips out of joint terminated that one. Then there was that silly looking pill box hat worn by Jacquie Kennedy. Sure it hardly qualified more as a bump on the head than a chapeau, but that didn’t stop the herds of slavish fans from lining up and buying.

    Today, it’s Instagram. Years from now, it’s something else…..Guaranteed!

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Marketers delight in the sheep quality about people. Take commercials. If one is successful bingo, you’ll often hear and/or see others similar.

    I remember the Hula Hoop and enjoyed playing with it. Pet Rock I didn’t own. When I became aware of fashion I remember women’s artichoke hairstyle–that’s what I called it but that wasn’t its official name. Although everyone seemed to be getting it, I knew that my hair and face were not a match. It was the first time I learned that not all fads and fashions were for me.

    It will be interesting to see what takes the place of Instagram which has taken Facebook’s. Will it be TikTok, the social media platform where users create and share 15 to 60 second looping videos at times with sound and visual effects? Participants comment on and share the videos. I admire those who can use technology to achieve these mini films.

  3. BC Said:

    Once had a T shirt which said simply “No Code”. Hope you get that.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Given your background I assume it means do not resuscitate. Yikes! Though today some might think it refers to computer code.

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