Gather round queers, for I have a story to tell. A story that once told will result in your closet brimming with new clothes, from a source you won’t believe, and at price that is almost laughable.
This story begins on a hot New York summer's day. After running errands I was left as anyone running around the streets of Manhattan during the hell that is July is. Gross. I got a text from a friend inviting me to our favorite bar, to enjoy some late day drinking. I immediately said yes, seeing as there really is *nothing better than a cold beer when you’re hot and dehydrated. My excitement faded quickly, when I realized that I was GROSS. I was 1. In my “I don’t give a what” errands clothes, and 2. Basically a wet mop (this is in fact my best look). What was a queer to do? I hear you, you’re like: But Ryley you’re in NYC the Capital of Fashion. And I hear you, truly I do — but you see I was in Herald Square. Which is wrongly named. Its true name should be Hell. For those of you who have never had the pleasure of experiencing Herald Square, let me sum it up for you: The Worst. Herald Square is home to the original and biggest Macy’s in the world aka it is a tourist trap that not even Disney World can compete with. God, I fucking hate Heralds Square. Anyway. Shopping in Herald Square is what I can only assume shopping in Knockturn Alley would be like. No one is nice, everyone is in a rush, and probably definitely has a knack for the Dark Arts.
So there I was, a boi with no viable clothing options. My only hope was the Manhattan Mall. As I walked in my hopes and dreams quickly diminished. I did a quick lap and found nothing, as I walked to one of the exits, a familiar sign from my suburban childhood lit up in front of me. “Aeropostale.” I literally rolled my eyes. I have in fact said that any company that is dumb enough to literally put the word “stale” in their name should just expect the worst. But I was stuck; I had no other options, so with all of the reluctance in the world I walked in.
Last summer I had a revelation. It came in the form of a food I had always hated with a burning passion: brussel sprouts. As a child I had been a victim of parents who could not cook. My dad would happily steam brussel sprouts and then douse them in various spices. And by spices I mean garlic salt and onion powder. The smell of steamed brussel sprouts is pretty putrid. My hate was sealed. But then one day, I was offered them. They had been flash fried and tossed in Thai fish sauce. My mouth basically had an orgasm. Since then brussel sprouts and I have been best friends, and I have many times apologized to them, and my tongue for the 24 years of non-eating I had done. Never again I proclaimed. I had this same exact moment upon walking into the doors of Aero. Things have changed.
I know. I KNOW. You do not believe me. But that’s ok, because I have proof my loves!
I understand that your eyes are adjusting. Much like when you have your pupils dilated. It takes some getting used to. You are literally seeing Aeropostale in a new light. I will give you a minute.
I was in such a state of shock upon entering the store that I had to pause. Where were the hideously outdated shirts that screamed Aeropstale in huge white letters? Where were the plaid polos? The cargo shorts? WHERE WAS I? To be fair, all of their old apperal still exists. And it still acts as a billboard of a brand many of us would like to forget (much like the rest of middle school). Aero has essentially created a line of “Brooklyn Friendly” swag. Reading the descriptions of some of the shirts literally made me want to gag:
“Nothin' beats a day in Billyburg, except maybe a day in Billyburg meeting the girl of your dreams! No, you're not seeing things — the hottie on our Brooklyn Babe Graphic T is lookin' right at you, so speak up, son! This cool tee also features a skyline print, as well as "Brooklyn" and "New York City" text spelled with a reverse "R".”
BUT LIKE THESE SHIRTS ARE SO DOPE THAT I CANNOT BRING MYSELF TO CARE. They are also literally always on sale. I have bought about 10 now and just cracked $100. If the clothing world is going to completely capitalize off of “hipsters” then so be it, I will happily capitalize off of the fact that I am getting rad shirts for a fraction of the cost. Shirts that no one else has BECAUSE NO ONE ELSE SHOPS AT AERO. But I could not keep this secret from my queer family. And honestly if Aero is trying to turn over a new leaf by literally starting two new brands (the word o does not appear on any of these shirts — not even the tags) then I am totally down. Reinvention is always exciting, and if this is only the beginning I am hella excited to see what the next few months brings.
*Apparently water is much better for dehydration. But water doesn’t make you tipsy. So like, whatever, H2O.
Ryley Pogensky is a native New Yorker currently residing in the Brooklyn of California - Oakland. Earlier this year Ryley was one of 17 transgender models who posed for Barneys groundbreaking Spring campaign. Ryley can often be found behind the scenes of New Yorks biggest queer parties and in front of the camera for various queer photographers. He is the dapperQ of 2014 and runs the blog Queergrub. See more of Ryley on Qwear here.