Profile: Diego Leon/29/Style Blogger and Social Media Consultant.
dan·dy /ˈdandē/ - a man unduly devoted to style, neatness, and fashion in dress and appearance.
Among the frenzy of baseball fans donned in sports paraphernalia, Diego easily stood out in a tailored blazer with a mini bow lapel pin and trousers with no breaks. We walked away from the crowd making their way into Yankee Stadium with the Dandy in the Bronx founder to the Joyce Kilmer Park located a few steps away from the Bronx Supreme Court. We took our seats across from a crew of men playing an afternoon game of cricket and we began chatting.
What do you do?
Social Media is a big part of my life, I am the Content Affiliate & Social Media Manager for Try the World. I run their social media. I also work with other food bloggers to talk about Try the World and create content. [With] my experience of being a blogger, I see both sides of the coin. I work with the bloggers the same way brands work with me. Brands come to me and say “Diego wear this tie and do a photo shoot,” I turn and say “take this box of Argentinean food and create awesome content.” Try the World is a subscription box service. Every two months we send a box of curated gourmet food from expert chefs from different parts of the world.
I used to teach pre-school, I was kind of disillusioned with the educational system it was all about test scores. I wanted to try doing something for myself.
Even then I dressed this way I decided to start posting [outfits] online. People started liking [my posts] and I started building a social media following. With that, I took some classes in digital marketing and I got into the startup scene doing social media consulting. I then started Dandy in the Bronx. It was like my living resume, my example of ‘I know what I’m doing’. I started Dandy in the Bronx as a way to showcase myself, fashion, the Bronx, and all the cool things the Bronx has to offer.
I use the word dandy; a dandy is a well dressed gentleman; a well groomed gentleman. I’m nowhere near a legit dandy,” he says while pointing out his lack of a tie. If a real dandy saw me, he would kick me out the club. It’s something that I aspire to be, it’s almost like a lifestyle. It’s about being a gentleman. I want to show that in the Bronx… dress well, act well and [people] can’t challenge you.” I’m hoping people in the Bronx see me and say I can do that. I can wear a suit, I can wear a tie and pocket square.
Do you feel that people in the Bronx are receptive to how you dress?
Dressing this way does invoke a type of feeling for some people and it’s not just in the Bronx. I remember I was leaving Hunts Point and this lady asked sarcastically “where are you going?” I replied, “Thanks for the compliment.” And she said, “I wasn’t complimenting you!”
In Manhattan I’ve gone into dive bars and people would ask why I’m dressed this way. Aside from that one incident in the Bronx, I haven’t been challenged like that. It has been positive. On Instagram I’ll get messages from [Bronxites] saying they think it’s cool or they want to dress like this and ask me to recommend places to go.
What stores do you recommend?
Dressing well is not hard. People already spend money on clothes now just spend it on a certain type of clothes. Most of my clothes come from thrift shops. You can go to a random Good Will, there is Unique - a chain thrift shop. Nowadays a lot of my clothes are given to me from companies I work with but when I first started, thrift shops and hand me downs. My favorite blazer was given to by my grandfather. Now that we have [the Mall at Bay Plaza] you can go to H&M and pick out your basics. I do a lot of my shopping online there are subscription box services you can use. One I subscribe to is called Sprezzabox every month they send you a box of ties, pocket square, socks. On weekends I work at The Tie Bar it’s a pop up shop but they're mostly an online brand. Weekend Casual is another online brand they have good prices. I love rocking their stuff. But I definitely recommend hand me downs, steal your grandpa’s style. The key thing is you must get your clothes tailored. Whatever suit or dress shirt I buy I take it to my tailor. You may have gone to catholic school! I went to Cardinal Hayes High School. I looked back on my khakis, blazers and cardigans and got it tailored. I’m a fan of the insignia it looks really cool and old fashioned.
I noticed that you were a bit of a foodie, (referencing the Dandy In The Bronx website that also features a food tab) what are some of your favorite restaurants in the Bronx?
Havana Café great brunch unlimited Sangria you can’t challenge that. Before is shut down, Babalu, it was a Colombian ‘I Love Lucy’ themed restaurant, its Mamajuana Café now. Gun Hill Brewery, that’s like a secret spot. Michelangelo’s on Arthur Avenue the real little Italy. Burger Time in Morris Park, they have wild hamburgers. There is one that is a hamburger but instead of buns they use grilled cheese sandwiches.
How does the Bronx inspire your style?
I look at the colors of the Bronx; I did a shot inspired by NYCFC our new soccer team. I created and outfit using their colors blue, orange, and sky blue. Yankees, I’m going to wear pinstripes, navy those colors. I may wear some jeans. But I’m always inspired by the people around me. I’m Ecuadorian so I’ll wear yellow slacks or something. I try to do a majority of my shots in the Bronx as well. I’ve done a shoot by Yankees Stadium and Concrete Plant Park in Hunts Point.
You started your blog in 2014 but when did your love for fashion begin?
Actually today is the one year anniversary of my blog. As of now [my love for fashion] began six years ago. I just wanted to do something different. I wanted to reinvent myself. I wanted to try something new. I’m a big fan of electronic music more specifically, Chip Tone, which is using video game systems to create new beats. One of these musicians, Nathaniel Adams, is a dandy 100%. After the show I slowly began to dress to well. I asked him where he got his suits, he said he makes them himself! He recently wrote a book called “I Am Dandy.” He has a clothing line he just launched called Secret Empire, I’m wearing one of his shirts. When I first saw him I said that was something I wanted to be and from there I just used what I had. I started learning more about men’s fashion and reading men’s fashion blogs, following other men’s wear influencers and bloggers, going to men’s wear events and meetups and talking to other bloggers.
Who influences your fashion?
There’s Adapperchick, Shesagent and Levitatestyle, I’ve met these people in real life, we’ve gone out shared a drink and some fashion tips.
What is a long term vision for yourself?
My next thing is that I want to meet other dandies in the Bronx. I haven’t met any. An example of a dandy in the Bronx is Baron Ambrosia. I want to meet other people who dress this way and live this lifestyle. I don’t want Dandy in the Bronx to just be me. I want it to be something you can do, what you can be. We breed great people, intellectual people, smart people, creative people but we can’t hold them here. So we have to figure out how to keep them whether through start-ups or meet up and supporting each other. That’s what I hope to do with Dandy in the Bronx in terms of men’s wear and fashion at least.
How would you define the style of the Bronx?