June 1, 7:30 in the morning. I was able to sleep more than seven hours. The hotel’s location doesn’t help. A few nights have been more than enough to hate Times Square, the noisiest (and tackiest) corner of The City. And although every time I come I like to walk around here and observe all the lights and costumed people and those trying to sell you cannabis, the more I do it, the worse it gets. I thought it’d be a good idea to stay here, close to everything, but no; Joe’s Pizza is some of the worst pizza in New York and the construction nor the rabble tire of appearing in my dreams. I don’t care about any of that this morning, I wake up and go down to the Dunkin’ Donuts right below the hotel. The workers are rude and almost never understand what I order. I can’t blame them; my English is much better when I’m drunk, and it’s still too early for that. One of those pink donuts and an iced coffee. It’s not toasted bread with jamon iberico and tomato, but it’s not bad. I go back up to the hotel, eat my breakfast, and hop in the shower. I get out and see a message from Daniel: “See you at 10:30, bro”. Daniel is the store manager at the Upper East Side store of The Armoury. We’ve been talking to each other for months on Instagram, but we’ve yet to meet in person. Nearly 4000 miles between each other is to blame. “Perfect, buddy, my first day on shoes”, I reply, adding a photo of today’s look. A subtle way of asking my friend if I’m looking good enough to walk into The Armoury, an institution of style and elegance. In the City, and the world. No, I’m not exaggerating. “I dressed down today, if you want to get more comfortable, please do,” Dan quickly replies, showing me his white C-QP and Coherence pants.
Dan Quigley was proudly born and raised in Brooklyn, NY in 1971. As a preteen, he was fascinated by drawing and painting, and, hopefully without his son listening in, he played hooky frequently to go to the local museums and fell in love with the Rothkos, Pollocks, and O’Keefes who found themselves nearby. Plagued with depression, he found a cure in those works. Sitting and staring at a Rothko as his therapy, with feelings of affinity, a feeling of one human to another. He knew he wasn’t alone in his anguish.
Street art flourished in NY in the ‘80s and Quigley found an escape in becoming a graffiti artist. DQ, DECUE, or DEKEW -as he was called-, he snuck out night after night to leave his tags, which would disappear after a statement by one of his art teachers: “Your graffiti is not art”. Brokenhearted, Dan stopped drawing and painting to focus on hard rock and punk -he played bass- and cinema, directing music videos and documentaries. For years, sporadic jobs became the norm, but then fashion and The Armoury showed up. Today, Daniel balances his job as manager for the venerable menswear shop on the Upper East Side and -30 years after leaving- indie artist, painting in his Brooklyn Army Terminal studio.
Dan Quigley painting in his studio
It’s 10 am and I’ve left Central Park behind to my left to go up Madison Ave. The Armoury shouldn’t be too far, 840 Madison Avenue. It’s interesting that this is my fourth time in New York and I’ve never been to the Upper East Side before. Every time I go back to Madrid my sister asks me about it. I guess Gossip Girl is to blame; that she has to ask and be confused -she would live in the Upper East Side- that I haven’t been there yet. I always preferred Downtown. But I get that this corner of the City is special. The shops, the houses, the girls… that mixture of fascinating girls, some wearing dress suits, others in their Lululemons, but all of them with their matcha lattes in hand. Except for her. She’s leaning on the Marni shop window, she sees me and says something. I don’t answer, it was too fast and my brain is still coming to terms with the fact that a Victoria’s Secret model is speaking to me. Right now all my strength goes to controlling my legs so they don’t buckle and I trip in front of her. Thirty seconds later I digest the message: “I’m ready for the picture”. I have a Nikon around my neck and the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen in my 34 years on this planet is asking for me to take her picture. A photo I’d have to send her at some point by mail, phone, Instagram… If the universe were to give me a one percent chance to meet a top model and start a relationship with her, it would be this one, and I’ve already missed it.
Self-pity roils in me, I can’t stop thinking about that girl. I should have kept up with my English, I should have listened to my mother. “Sooner or later you’ll end up needing English, don’t give it up”. I ignored her and now I have a level of English that only allows me to order a round. My thoughts almost make me walk right past The Armoury. In fact I did, but a few stickers of The Real McCoy on the glass awaken me from the negative stupor. I’m back to dreaming, I’m in my favorite store and Daniel and his colleagues are waiting behind the counter.
SPIFF: Dan, please, before we begin, tell me if you still have the Real McCoy that Jan Tong wore. The one that’s like from the ‘30s.
DAN: No, man. That coat is already way out of stock, but I’m going to show you a few others that I’m sure you’ll also like. Check it out, this one is from a collection we released this year with Savas. Pay attention to the leather, it’s spectacular. Savas is a brand founded in 2015, and dear friend, the one in your hand, that’s from an exclusive collab with The Armoury, with the name 68, the year Elvis returned.
SPIFF: Take it easy on me. I don’t know if I should ask you to show me anything else. I want it all.
DAN: Come with me. You can’t buy this, don’t worry, You see that stand over there with all the books? Those are all Scott Schuman’s, we keep them here. And this book of photography is Mark’s, who’s around the city somewhere. Hopefully you guys can meet up.
SPIFF: I’d love to. I admire Mark and Alan so much. I think they’ve started something amazing in The Armoury. I had the pleasure of meeting Scott a few years ago. He’s a good guy. Álvaro, the previous director of fashion and beauty for Esquire, introduced me to him at the party the magazine organized in Madrid. And all those art books? I can tell you’re not the only one who likes it. Tell me, how do you handle both?
DAN: If you are asking me how I handle both my Art life and menswear ie (running this shops business ) then I have to say it requires all of my energy and enthusiasm to balance those XNUMX worlds. Success with The Armoury requires leadership, we have that leadership in Mark, Alan and others and a passionate and hardworking team. Being an Artist, no doubt requires many of the same skills. However with Painting I am driven in a different way, and this is difficult to explain. But, let me say this…as a soul having a human experience, I have a mystical need to paint. That possession pulls me into my studio almost every night into the AM and all day on my days off. Some output of energy can be draining and some output like painting can be rejuvenating. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit it’s difficult to get the balance just right.
The Armory by SAVAS
SPIFF: Well, I've always believed that they are two complementary worlds. In the end, fashion is an artistic expression, right? One of my goals at Spiff was one of creating a community that loves those kinds of things. I didn’t want to just talk about clothing. I wanted to talk about it in the context of artistic creation: architecture, fine art, cinema, music… I think if we give clothing that kind of value we make it better, right?
DAN: You are 100% correct some clothing absolutely has all these art forms attached to it. For instance at The Armoury we partner with craft people that offer truly bespoke one of a kind products (like Tailor Caid, Ascot Chang, Liverano, Yohie Fukuda, and Ring Jacket just to name a few) sometimes those garments are inspired by a particular movie or something that artists of yesteryear have worn, then that item (whether it’s a jacket, suit, trouser, bag, shoe etc.) is handcrafted in a way to fit a clients unique body and preferences, that requires an architectural approach to cutting. Honesty it’s purely a creative process.
SPIFF: Times are changing and conventional tailoring may be losing a bit of its bounce. Those in the know are creating more relaxed clothes that are more diverse in how they can be worn, whether for work or Friday night drinks. You, for instance, blazer and sneakers. Is this your go-to look or is it just my imagination?
DAN: I agree casual clothes seems to be having a moment. Comfort is becoming more important these days. Im on my feet 10-12 hrs a day and theses C-QPs are extremely comfortable. Not to mention theses Coherence trousers are certainly my most comfortable. But, as to a go to look that all depends on how I’m feeling that day. I'm blessed that I have some amazing pieces in my closet that I can grab depending on my mood. I definitely mix it up.
SPIFF: What are the three indispensable garments in Dan Quigley’s closet?
DAN: The Three indispensable items in my closet, are not what The Armoury is typically known for, but these Coherence trousers I would buy in every color of the rainbow if they made them. I have this great Yves Klein blue work-wear jacket from Ring Jacket that is almost identical to the one that the infamous New York Times photographer Bill Cunningham (The quintessential street style photographer) used to wear and lastly my Nackymad glasses which are essential because if I don’t wear them I can’t see clear. Plus their beautifully designed and crafted and have skulls on the Temple tips which is very rock ‘n’ roll.
Nackymad glasses detail
SPIFF: What about watches? Do you like them?
DAN: Watches can be a rabbit hole. I used to be into large complicated watches even on my wedding day 10 years ago I wore a Brugette Type XX Transatlantic. But these days I’ve been leaning towards a bit more Bauhaus style. For example, today I’m wearing this small 29,5 mm Nomos Tetra (with billiard green face and gold markers). I really love this watch, it’s super unique and you don’t see it on everyones wrist, I commissioned a Jean Rousseau strap for it to make it more my own. Other than that I have a small collection, not much to brag about. Other favorites include two vintage watches that were owned by my grandfather and then my father. Not expensive but tremendously sentimental to me.
SPIFF: You know that at Spiff we also love vintage. In NYC people are already quite familiar with this concept. Do you buy vintage clothing? Do you like it?
DAN: That’s one of the best aspects of living in NY, the fact that no matter what your into there is a group of people into the same thing. This holds true with the vintage scene here. New York and the outer boroughs have some of the best vintage shops in the world. I personally do not wear much of it but I have a few vintage rock T-shirts only because I brought them new and never gave them away. Beyond that I prefer NOS, I purchased this amazing 60s scarlet red Brooks’ Bros jacket from Sean Crowley a few years back, its specific but killer!
SPIFF: To finish up, two questions: what’s your favorite piece of art? Where do you recommend I eat today? Please, I want it to be the most New York place possible.
DAN: I’ve been moved to tears countless times by great art most notably by Rothko, If I sit alone in silence in a room with any large scale piece of his I can feel his soul speaking to mine. I feel the same way about Rembrandt, Caravaggio, Van Gogh, Picasso, Pollock and O'keefe. So this is impossible to answer succinctly.
Get over to Red Hook Brooklyn and go to Red Hook Tavern or Hometown BBQ, both are incredible and owned and operated by by Billy Durney, growing up together Billy and I shared innumerable meals and drinks together at all the legendary restaurants (Peter Luger‘s, Odeon) and pubs like (McSorley's) this amazing city offers and somehow He magically adapted the best elements of these and worked them harmoniously into his establishments. Let me know if you need a reservation.