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The Fashion Geek Podcast

46 | Maybe This City Isn't For Me: A Conversation With Mr. New York City Subway

Reg (Tiff is online shopping) talks with Andreas Verrios of “Mr. New York City Subway” (Instagram) about fashion on the train, collabos with Menswear brands and approaching people on subway platforms with a hat box in each hand. When you listen to this episode watch the closing doors.

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00:00 Introduction and Sponsor Message
00:21 Meet the Hosts: Reg and Tiff
00:45 Special Guest: Andreas Varios, Mr. New York City Subway
01:45 Andreas' Journey to New York and Photography
04:56 Transforming the Subway Experience
16:15 Fashion on the Subway
22:36 Goorin Bros Collaboration
28:34 Reflecting on Pre-COVID Photography
29:08 Approaching Strangers for Photos
30:27 Learning the Right Pitch
32:14 Fashion Collaborations and Experiences
34:23 The Art of Tailored Suits
38:35 Independent Artist Journey
48:21 Passion for 80s Culture
54:27 Final Thoughts and Future Plans

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Reginald Ferguson [00:00:01]: The Fashion Geeks are hosted and powered by Blueberry. That's Blueberry, b l u b r r y. Thinking of launching a podcast? Want your episodes to be deployed smoothly? Go to, type in the word fashion, and get a deal on us. Just put in the word fashion. Blueberry always host fly. Hello. I'm Red. And I'm Tiff. Reginald Ferguson [00:00:23]: And we're the fashion geeks. Trying to make New York. And the world Well, New York is the world. A little flyer, one outfit And podcast. At a time. Yes. Back again. Hey, everybody. Reginald Ferguson [00:00:37]: It's Reg Ferguson, patchy geek number 1. My ride or die patchy geek number 2, Tiffany is out online shopping. That's a good thing because I wanna just dedicate my time to a special guest that we have. I've been trying to get this guy on the pod for a long time. Very busy man. He's usually, he's usually underground. I'm about to explain. Please welcome, ladies and gentlemen, Andreas Varios, mister New York City subway, I would say in the building, but in your building. Andreas Varios [00:01:10]: Hey. Thank you for having me. And and, you know, I I think we've been in in contact about doing this no more than, you know, 4 to 6 weeks, so I'm glad that we're, we're finally doing it. Reginald Ferguson [00:01:21]: Absolutely. Absolutely, man. You know, you're very busy. I'm I'm I'm just flattered that you could fit us in. Andreas Varios [00:01:27]: No. Of course. And I appreciate the time. Thank you. Reginald Ferguson [00:01:30]: No. Absolutely. So we have so much to talk about. We're gonna see what we can do for at least this session. Maybe we'll have you come back if you would like to ride. Andreas Varios [00:01:41]: Yeah. Of course. Reginald Ferguson [00:01:42]: So so, Andreas, the reason you know, I wanted the listeners to know, first of all, I've been following you on the gram for quite a while. So and the reason why is because we're missing New York City subway. I'm a native New Yorker. Until the pandemic hit, I freaking love the subway. Andreas Varios [00:02:05]: Yeah. Yeah. So Reginald Ferguson [00:02:07]: I was drawn to your account, and anytime I did a photo on the subway, you know I tagged your ass. So you could it's like you and a bunch of subway people. I'm like, hey, subway account people. Look what I'm doing. Andreas Varios [00:02:20]: I love my subway people, Reginald Ferguson [00:02:24]: so thank you. Well, I've been a subway person literally all my life. So, you know, generally, I think people would expect that I'm talking to a street photographer, but you're really a subterranean photographer. So, I know a lot about you. I don't want you to necessarily go through, you know, the basic rigmarole but you know, the reason why I found this to be interesting is because this pod interview is gonna incorporate 3 loves of mine, the subway, photography, and fashion. And for the majority of this conversation, I wanna keep it germane to all those things. Andreas Varios [00:03:04]: What's the third one? Reginald Ferguson [00:03:06]: Fashion. Andreas Varios [00:03:06]: Fashion. Gotcha. Yeah. You're awesome. Reginald Ferguson [00:03:09]: You're known to, take some fashion shots. Andreas Varios [00:03:12]: Yes. Reginald Ferguson [00:03:12]: And, you're known to rock a suit every once in a while, so we're gonna talk about all that. Andreas Varios [00:03:16]: Fashionable environment than the New York City subway. Reginald Ferguson [00:03:20]: Andres, when we have a conversation, you're preaching to the converted. So I don't I don't disagree with you at all. But, you know, again, really, if we talk about fashion, generally, we're talking about above ground. But to your point, there's wonderful and interesting things to be found underground. So one of my first questions is because correct me if I'm wrong, when you came here from Cali, right, so we're we're gonna have a little East Coast, West Coast conversation right now. When you came here from Cali, keep it real, Andreas, were you really feeling New York? Andreas Varios [00:03:59]: So, you know, it's a great question because the first two and a half, three years that I was here, you know, things were definitely tough. And I I always explain it to people. It's like your first couple of years in New York City, it's like you're you're like a chicken with your head cut off. You're just running around doing as many things as you can do and just trying to figure out what what the pace is, what what, you know, just trying to find your rhythm within this city. So the first couple of years were were great, but, but very challenging. And, you know, I I didn't I didn't actually have my my passion. I didn't have this photography or this pursuit until about 3 years into living in New York City. And I was having a discussion the other day with someone and and talking about how the, about 2 and a half, 3 years into New York, I was actually thinking to leave the city and go back to California. Andreas Varios [00:04:54]: In fact, it's funny, I tell people this all the time, but I used to hate the New York City subway, and I knew nothing about photography about 2a half, 3 years ago. And I think the first thing you do when you're struggling in a city, especially when you're, you know, not from it, and, you know, me being a West Coast, San Diego, California guy, is maybe this isn't the city for me, and maybe I should move somewhere else, Maybe I should go back to California. And I was starting to have those thoughts, even though, you know, everything on paper was good, you know, I'm I'm an attorney working at Goldman Sachs. You know, I had a, you know, nice apartment. I had a good gym membership. I I always laugh about this, but to Equinox, I had a beautiful girlfriend. You know, I had all all the things on paper that that you would think would be ideal if you're living in New York City. So, you know, I had everything that was on paper that that you would think would make you happy to be in New York City, but I wasn't happy. Andreas Varios [00:05:57]: I wasn't content. And, yeah, my my thoughts at that at that point in time were, hey, you know what? Maybe this just isn't the city for me. So I was actually thinking to move back to California before I found this pursuit. But, you know, I don't know if you want me to to dive into this pursuit and and kinda how I discovered it. But, yeah, I was definitely having a lot of reservations up until I found this passion about living in New York City. Reginald Ferguson [00:06:24]: Gotcha. Because my point is, I was wondering when you first created the moniker on insta, Mr. New York City Subway, I was wondering if initially it was a little sarcastic tip. -No. -Like, Oh, there he is, mister New York City subway. Because you didn't like you didn't like your commute at all. And you hated you hated the iron horse, which I have loved since I was a toddler. Andreas Varios [00:06:50]: I know. I know. It's it's you know, and me coming from San Diego, we didn't have a subway or any type of, transportation like that. I grew up driving a car at the age of 15. So there was always an intrigue with the subway. I always I always liked it in some ways because it was just different for me. But at the end of the day, I wasn't really focusing on the positive aspects of it, the creative aspects. I was focusing on all the negative aspects. Andreas Varios [00:07:15]: So when I started this account on Instagram, the initial reason for it was to improve my commute and improve, the commute for the people around me by making it more positive. So when I actually started this account, the handle was mister kaizen, 84, and kaizen means, like, continuous improvement. So that my thought process when I started this was just how can I make my commute better for myself and the people around me? And then it slowly progressed into mister NYC Subway, And I actually looked at the history of my handles. That was the 4th handle I I ended up choosing. But it started with with just this premise of making my commute more positive. And and there's a lot to that story which kinda got me to that point, but but I'll kinda leave it at that for right now. Reginald Ferguson [00:08:08]: Okay. Yeah. That sounds fine. And certainly, you know, you can weave in however you want to. So, I mean, I'm impressed that literally your attitude changed your altitude, to really be honest. Right. And for someone like me, I've always loved taking the train. And I've had long commutes. Reginald Ferguson [00:08:37]: I've had quick commutes, meaning, you know, from growing up, either going to school or going to work or going to my grandparents or aunt and uncle, it always felt the same to me because, like you said, again, I like to just do this West Coast, East Coast thing because I can't help myself. But you grew up you grew up driving a car. You grew up commuting from a teenager with a whip. I grew up with the train. So like I said, when I when I saw the moniker and I had no idea that, like yourself, even your moniker has gone through a evolution. So that's really that's really cool. It just shows you what this city does if you just hold on, Andreas. If you hang in there, this city could do wonderful things. Andreas Varios [00:09:19]: 100%. And that's the thing is, you know, New York has made me into the person I am today, and I'm so grateful for it because New York pulled out a creative side of me that I never knew existed. And it did it in a place that I used to hate, and really dislike. And I'll tell you the reason was, you know, looking back on it is, you know, there's a lot of negativity on the subway if you wanna focus on it. Right? Like, you know, there's a lot of trash. You have delays of the the trains every now and then, even though that's gotten a lot lot better. But, and then you have a lot of, you know, during the morning commute, everyone's kinda, you know, either eyes closed or looking down at their cell phones. No one really wants to talk to each other. Andreas Varios [00:10:02]: And then you have a lot of down and out sob stories, every single day when you commute every day on the subway. You're bound to run into someone. And whether it's true or not, what what they're going through, you just, you know, you feel bad for that person. So, but what I realized is it wasn't the subway that was negative. It was me that was negative. I again, going back to where I was at that point about 2a half, 3 years ago, everything on paper was good. But I came to New York to find my passion, and I hadn't found it yet, and I wasn't I wasn't content with myself. So really, the subway was was consistently for two and a half years really pulling out of me all of my negativity to the point that I finally just realized, okay, I need to make a change. Andreas Varios [00:10:50]: And and kinda going back to what I was saying earlier, part of my first thought process was the changes I need to move. I need to get out of this city. This city isn't for me. But I listened closer to the universe and I listened closer to what my my inner voice was telling me, and it was telling me that I needed to change my perspective essentially. And what I did is one morning, it's it's kinda it's kinda crazy how how it all happened. But one morning, I was going to work, and I'm actually a lawyer. So, you know, I work from, like, 8 to 6, Monday through Friday. Typically, I sit at a desk. Andreas Varios [00:11:26]: And I wanted to, you know, make my seat at work more comfortable, so I brought a pillow with me, that morning on my commute. It's, like, 7:30 in the morning. I'm in a suit, you know, taking the queue across the Manhattan Bridge. And I look around, and I just noticed that every single person on that train was looking at me. And and and everyone was looking at me, and everyone had a different kinda kinda, you know, facial expression. You know, some people were intrigued. Some people were confused. Some people were, like, what are you doing? Some people were smirking. Andreas Varios [00:11:59]: But I realized in that moment how easily I can take people out out of their normal mindset and and just change the way they think and feel in that moment. So immediately when I got to work, I hit up 2 friends. 1's a comedian, 1's a musician. And I said, hey. You know, I've I've got this idea. I want you guys to come on the subway and and perform for the people of New York on the trains, and I want you to tell them, I don't want your money. I don't, you know, I'm not here to to ask for your money, but I want you to to take this positive energy and pass it on. And I just I felt this insane, intuitive emotion towards us that we have to do this. Andreas Varios [00:12:42]: And and my vision was I'm gonna film it. And at the time, I knew nothing about photography, so I bought a GoPro and a stabilizer. And and the content ended up being, you know, very mediocre, but it was so so anyways, the comedian said no. He said yes, but he he kinda fell through. And but Ray Isla, the the musician, she said yes without thinking twice. And she totally understood my point of view of how, like, you know, morning commutes and everything seems a little dreary and, like, it'd be nice to kinda, you know, bring some sort of positive energy to it. So essentially within a week, we went on the subway, and she performed. She had her guitar and she played her music, and we went around for 2 or 3 hours, probably, you know, 10 10 or so different trains. Andreas Varios [00:13:26]: And, you know, we had people clapping. We had people smiling. We had people give us hugs. I think some people cried. And, of course, not everyone, even, you know, acknowledged us. But the people that did, it was just this beautiful connection to the people of New York and and on the subway. And it made me realize within that moment, you know, how beautiful a place the subway is. And I had this conversion right then and there like, you know, instead of focusing on all the negativity down here, it's time to focus on the beauty down here. Andreas Varios [00:13:59]: And I always tell people, you know, you know, I always tell people that if you if you focus on the the positive aspects of the subway, you know, actually, if you look at its architecture, if you, you know, if you look at, the fashion, it's funny, you you know, you mentioned fashion, but if you look at, you know, the fashion you see people wearing on the subway, but if you look around and you look for the positive aspects, and I always say it really is in the people of New York, but if you just, you know, become present and look for it, you'll see something amazing, you'll see something engaging, something cool. And typically, it's within the people of New York City. You know, someone could be making music, someone could be writing poetry, someone could be painting something. I've seen people weaving blankets. But I essentially had that shift of perspective from focusing on the negative things to the positive things, and I really felt it that day with with Ray and her music and the people we connected with. And my big epiphany, shortly thereafter was, you know what? I don't need to bring positive energy to the subway. I don't need to bring a a comedian or a musician. It's already here. Andreas Varios [00:15:09]: And once I realized that, that's when I had this giant shift. And that's when I, you know, started looking for it every single day I got on the subway. It turned into this passionate, like, obsession, type of mindset that took over me. And I started recording things on my cell phone. I started my Instagram account. And again, that was that was the whole push in the beginning of this pursuit. And then, you know, of course, I bought a camera and developed into, you know, taking photos and creating content, and it's turned into what it is today. But it's it's really crazy because when I look back on it and I think how it all started, it was just this intuitive feeling that, hey, there's something I need to do here, instead of just, you know, saying, hey, I need to move away from the city. Andreas Varios [00:15:57]: I dug deeper but I felt something, and I and I listened to it, and I went for it. And, you know, it's turned into what it has today. Reginald Ferguson [00:16:04]: So you're the chronicle of subway life, and I wanna have you really talk about you know, you you already said it in the defense of the subway. You're like, there's a lot of fashion down there. I don't disagree with you because I'm on the subway. But what do you see and what do you like seeing from a fashion perspective on the subway? Because I see that on your 'gram. It's not You know, the your 'gram has a diversity, but I wanna hone you in. Give me your take on the fashion that you see on the subway. Andreas Varios [00:16:41]: So, you know, it it's the the short Reginald Ferguson [00:16:43]: answer men's fashion, specifically. Andreas Varios [00:16:45]: Men's fashion? Reginald Ferguson [00:16:46]: Yeah, specifically. Andreas Varios [00:16:46]: Well, I was gonna say the short answer is it's New York City. Right? I mean, this is the the mecca of fashion and and, you know, across a wide spectrum of fashion. But, you know, it's the personalities of New York City. It's it's the people's individual styles. Everyone here expresses themselves in their own manner and isn't afraid to do so. But I would say, you know, specifically with men's fashion and a project I'm working on right now, it's actually with Goran Bros, a hat company. Reginald Ferguson [00:17:17]: You know I wanna talk about that. Yeah. Absolutely. Andreas Varios [00:17:20]: And what I'm doing is I'm going around, and I'm and I'm finding strangers on the New York City subway to be a model. Right then and there, I approach them. I have the the hats in hand, and I say, hey. Would you want a model for this hat company? But essentially, the way this campaign is kinda turning out so far, and what I'm noticing with with myself and what's catching my eye is, of course, people who are dressed to impress. So, you know, and I typically go on the weekends around, you know, Saturday or Sunday around 1 PM, but I I'm just looking for people who, before they left their apartment, put some time and effort into how they look. And again, it doesn't have to be super eloquent and, like, you know, to the t decked out, but just you put some thought and style into your into your attire that day. And in particular, the, you know, the individuals that have caught my eye so far, this guy, his his name's Tay. And I cannot tell you, we were at York Street, my behind the scenes guy, video guy, Ken and I, were at York Street for about a hour, hour and a half, and I had I I was being very picky of who I approached. Andreas Varios [00:18:28]: And the first two people were females, and they both said no. They didn't have time. Reginald Ferguson [00:18:32]: They co dissed you. I saw it on your story. I was laughing. I'm the f train, yo, so I know York very well. Andreas Varios [00:18:38]: It was great. You know? Like, they were just like and and my and it was my first two times kind of approaching people. I was a little nervous, and my my pitch wasn't a 100%, but they were like, hey. I'm in a rush. I can't do it. It ended up being great because about an hour and a half into it, and this was the first time Ken and I did this with Gorimbros, you know, we're thinking, okay, maybe York Street is not the station. We've been here for a long time. There's not that many trains coming through. Andreas Varios [00:19:01]: There's not that much traffic. Maybe we should go to West 4th. But I was, like, we gotta stay here because I love taking photos at this station. That's why we came here. So anyways, out of nowhere, and I don't even remember. I just look up and there he is. There's Tay in his, you know, lavender pants with, you know, this Hawaiian shirt with this beautiful gold chain. I mean, he's he's just he's, you know, I can say it, a very gorgeous handsome man, but dressed to impress. Andreas Varios [00:19:29]: And so it was like my antennas just jumped. And I I didn't even I didn't even think I, like, really said much to Ken except, are you ready? Are you recording stuff? So and then I walked up to him and I just, again, I just felt it like this is the one. And he was being he was funny because he said, he did his hair. He was, like, you know, I told him, you know, the presentation. Oh. Reginald Ferguson [00:19:52]: And and Rather than his hair, man, this was this was big, Andreas, that you made this happen. He's, like, man Here to tell you. Andreas Varios [00:19:58]: Spent, like, an hour or fixing my hair. And I'm like, but you know Goran Bros? He's like, yeah. And I just I'm like, you know, I explained to him. I've been looking for the perfect person, how great he looks. And I just I had to have him. And I think he was like, okay, let's do this. So, I think that's a good example for, you know, the fashion in New York and with men. But it's just, you know, people who put a little time and effort into their wardrobe. Andreas Varios [00:20:23]: And again, whatever their unique style is and whatever fits them appropriately and and how they pull it off, at the end of day, like, they feel confident and comfortable, and it's the energy that is presented through their, through their attire. But, you know, it's an interesting thing to talk about too is fashion and what we wear. And I've always said this, you know, a huge way that we express ourselves and channel our creativity is through our fashion. Reginald Ferguson [00:20:51]: Certainly. Andreas Varios [00:20:51]: And and, you know, again, going back to New Yorkers where, you know, everyone is created in this world, you know, every human being has creativity within within them, but I I do feel like New Yorkers have an extra level of creativity. So, again, you just that's why you see, the style you do see in New York, and that's why this project with Goranbros is such a great project even during this pandemic when, you know, I think the amount of people using the subway right now is less than less than a1000000. At one point, it was, like, around 400,000, which is, like, a 90%, fall off from, you know, 5 and a half 1000000 a day. But even right now during this pandemic, there's still people out there on the subway every single day that I can go find and turn into a model and and get great photos with. Reginald Ferguson [00:21:40]: So essentially, you're only reaching out to people who will fly. 100%. That's essentially what we're saying. Andreas Varios [00:21:46]: 100%. Like, you gotta you gotta put you gotta dress to impress. I I'm not gonna take photos of someone in their sweatpants going to the gym. You know? I like how Reginald Ferguson [00:21:54]: I like how you say that. So I wanna make really clear for the listeners. Let's let's take a little step back. So first of all, Goeran Brothers been around since 18/95. Andreas Varios [00:22:06]: Exactly. Reginald Ferguson [00:22:07]: They're a 4th generation business. So They're a major millinery here in new york they've got a place in williamsburg. I know that place I picked up, I picked up a skimmer. They have, they at least they used to they have a spot off the garment district over Fifth Avenue. It's like a office. It's like 2nd, 3rd floor. I don't know if they still have that. I got, like, 2 feet skimmers from them. Reginald Ferguson [00:22:37]: So how did that collabo even happen? Andreas Varios [00:22:43]: So my buddy, Matt Forget, he did a campaign with them. And essentially, he brought one of the hats to a photo shoot, he and I. It was our first time working together. And he brought their hats, and he was, you know, he wanted to get some photos with the hats to give to them. And I'm like, you know, of course, sure. Let's do it. So we ended up getting really, really cool photos. Actually, it's it's called the Brooklyn Army, the Brooklyn Army Terminal. Andreas Varios [00:23:11]: It's, Reginald Ferguson [00:23:12]: it's close Andreas Varios [00:23:12]: close to Red Hook. Reginald Ferguson [00:23:14]: Yeah. Sunset Park. Andreas Varios [00:23:15]: Yeah. Exactly. And it's got this just this kinda old school factory that people still work at, surprisingly. But you can go in there, and there's this old, train track, and there's an old, you know, a train in there. So anyways, we went in there. We had an amazing photo shoot. And that was the first time I started, that's when I got introduced to Gourimbroughs. And they loved the photos. Andreas Varios [00:23:40]: And they were just, you know, blown away. And then I did what I, so we actually started following each other. And what I did is I did my first series of photos with strangers, but with no brand, involved. And I actually the one stranger I did a photo, photo shoot with, he was wearing a hat. And anyways, the video got almost it got over 3,000,000,000 views on TikTok. Reginald Ferguson [00:24:04]: Wow. Andreas Varios [00:24:05]: Yeah. And he he's called the black fox, LaRonde. I mean, he's such a cool guy, and that's a whole another thing I can go into with with these photos with strangers, and I because I'm meeting cool people and building cool relationships. But it got me thinking because Goranborough saw the photos, and they're like, holy, you know, holy smokes. This looks amazing. And I said, hey, we should do something here. And I hit them up, and I said, I got this vision. You know, essentially, we should do photos with strangers, but with your hats, and we're gonna brand these strangers, as models in the moment. Andreas Varios [00:24:33]: And they're, like, yeah, let's do it. So pretty much the stars aligned for this one. And of of all the campaigns I've done with companies, and and that's a whole another conversation to have is working with brands, and, it's very very challenging because often you're dealing with, a brand's marketing team, you know, 3 or 4 people, and kind of layers and what they, you know, what their vision is, what they wanna do, and then they're very critical about the photos. But for this for this series and for this partnership with Goranbro's, it's like I don't have to change anything from what I wanna do, you know. Like it flows so naturally into my content, and it's exactly what I wanna do. So there hasn't been anything with Goran Bros where they're like, let's change this, let's change that. Of course, they're adding value, and and we're we're getting creative together. But it's really so far, it's the perfect match up as far as a brand campaign can go with my account and my two and a half years, you know, doing this. Reginald Ferguson [00:25:34]: So you have your own gear, meaning when you're going out on a shoot, let's let's specifically talk about this, this Goran Brothers campaign. So I'm assuming, you know, you have a backpack, you know, which you have all your equipment. So my point is, how is it to wrangle carrying 2 hat boxes along with your gear? Andreas Varios [00:26:02]: Fortunately, I have a really nice backpack that, I did a partnership with this this company called Langley, and they gave me this amazing backpack that holds everything in it. I have, you know, 4 or 5 lenses, I have my my body camera. I have my drone. So I can put all my camera gear in my backpack. But the hats definitely adds a little bit more of, an element. But basically, I have a big brown box or a bag, right, and I just carry that around with me with the hats in it. And it started with Gornbros sending me 5 different hats in 5 different sizes. And now what we're doing is we're sticking to 1 hat per and I'm I'm just doing this series once a weekend. Andreas Varios [00:26:42]: I'm doing it once on Saturdays, and we're just doing one, you know, it's it's quality over quantity. We're just doing one stranger a week. But essentially now what we're doing is we're focusing on whatever hat they wanna brand for that week, and I just get that hat in 3 or 4 sizes. And hopefully, the stranger likes the hat because if not, that's that's another, variable in this is is I've had a stranger. I had this girl who didn't like the hats I had. And fortunately, Goren Bros were at Bedford Station. Fortunately, their store is right outside the station, so it turned into a great kind Reginald Ferguson [00:27:20]: of pivot. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. The Williamsburg. Yeah. The Williamsburg. Andreas Varios [00:27:22]: So we we went to the store, and she could pick whatever hat she wanted and ended up being a great series. But but the the one variable in this is I can run into strangers who might not like the hat and say no because of Reginald Ferguson [00:27:36]: that. So that leads to, another question. First of all, you're asking strangers. You're not just asking strangers. You're asking strangers in New York City. And I don't care what era of time. Walking up to somebody in New York is like, Yo, you could get caught, Andreas. That's all I'm saying. Reginald Ferguson [00:27:58]: You could get caught. You get caught from a lady or a man, a senior citizen, a 5 year old. You could get played. So the question the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the doing something prior to the Goring collabo, so I wanna kinda use that as a epic of time versus now. How has it been? Can you compare the difference between asking strangers to try something on before COVID and now? What's the difference? Andreas Varios [00:28:35]: Honestly, you know, this series is unique, and I and I haven't really done anything like this pre COVID. The only thing I did pre COVID that was similar to this is and this is when I first started my account, and I had just again, this I was in this crazy obsession mindset and I had no fear of approaching people. What what I used to do is if I saw you and I liked your style and I I just, you know, my eyes said, hey, I need to capture this, I would, you know, do it candid. I would secretly take a photo of you with the hope that you would have noticed me. And then and then what I would do is take the photo and I would come up to you and say, hey. Do you have Instagram? If so, hey. Here's you know, I tried to make that connect connection. I have this account. Andreas Varios [00:29:17]: It's about the New York City subway. Oh, and, oh, by the way, I took this photo of you. How do you how do you like it? And I would say 9 out of 10 times, it was always a good experience. Always a good experience. You know, New Yorkers are, honestly the most receptive people and always have something to give back if you come to them with the right type of, energy and the right type of, mindset, and you're not just, like, you know, scaring them and and, you know, making them uncomfortable. And so I I've always kinda felt like it's my approach, it's my energy that's that's helped me out. But I've never had an experience in in with this series yet, knock on wood, where someone's been like, hey. Get the hell away from me. Andreas Varios [00:29:55]: I don't know who you are. And and and and, you know, has gotten aggressive. It's never reached that point. I have had someone say to me, no. You cannot take a photo of me, or please don't use that photo. In fact, delete it. And it happened one time with this couple. But apart from that, you know, pre COVID to now, it's the same thing. Andreas Varios [00:30:15]: You know, I have, an idea of of what I wanna do before I approach someone, and I try to make a connection. And I typically ask them, you know, hey. Do you have Instagram or TikTok? But you know what's funny is with this this, this series, I learned very quickly that it's the wrong question to ask off the bat, especially to a female. Do you have Instagram or TikTok? And especially during this pandemic, but that that actually got a little bit of, like, you know, blockage and reservation from a few people. So the first Why? Because I think to them, it's like, well, who are you, and why are you asking right away from my Instagram and TikToks? So they think I'm kinda hitting on them, and it's a little Right. Too personal of a question to start with. So what I do now is the first thing I say when I approach people is, Hey, this might sound kinda crazy, and, you know, this is random, but I'm a local photographer, influencer on TikTok and Instagram, and I'm doing this campaign for this hat company called Goran Bros. Have you heard of them? And that's my first question that I ask and and try to make that connection. Andreas Varios [00:31:19]: If they've heard of the hat company, two strangers now have have heard of Goranborough, so it's a nice instant connection. And and so I try to make that that kind of connection and then, you know, explain to them a little bit more about the campaign and what I'm doing. And that's so far since I've kinda gotten that pitch down, the last two times I've done this, the first strangers that I approach have said yes. Reginald Ferguson [00:31:44]: So It's all about the pitch. I mean, it's a it's a sales job. So and and now I could see when you said that, hey. What's your handle? I'm like, what were you trying to do? What were you trying to do? Andreas Varios [00:31:55]: And I got this camera around my neck, and I've got this box next to me, and I got this guy behind me with a a video camera. And they're just like, wait a second. Like, what? So I and and again, I think females too are are a little bit more protective, especially when males are approaching them and especially on the New York subway. Reginald Ferguson [00:32:13]: Sure. Andreas Varios [00:32:13]: Which I get. I totally get it. Reginald Ferguson [00:32:16]: So you mentioned earlier that this has been a very successful collab, but I know you've done a lot of other fashion collabs. So what I'd like to do is I wanna rattle a few off and just, you know, get your feelings, get your backgrounds, get your story about how that was. Because like I said, you really have a significant portfolio with with fashion brands. And, you know, I didn't even know that initially, but it certainly helped for us to have the conversation. So I've seen you in your gram, Andres, rocking, rocking the tux from Alton Lane. So what's up with that collab, though? Andreas Varios [00:33:00]: Yeah. So Alton Lane was the first menswear, and and they, you know, predominantly make, you know, suits and tuxedos. That's their their, you know, bread and butter. But they were the first company to to do a partnership where I model in their clothing of that nature. So that was my first opportunity to to work with a company like that, to get a suit for free. I I didn't get money on the first the first, round with them. But to get a suit for free, and it was a custom made suit, and then create content around it and build that experience, and and then present the content, give it to them. We actually did a video for it too. Andreas Varios [00:33:40]: So, yeah, that was my first, opportunity to to brand myself in a suit company, on my account. I had done prior to them, I worked with a hat company called BKMC, and she gave me hats. So I had done that, and I also did something with, a subway t shirt company where they gave me some t shirts and, and I took some very, you know, not, you know, non professional photos. I I they were taken on an iPhone wearing their their t shirts. But this was like my first, you know, working with a legit company. They have, you know, storefronts in in Tribeca. So my first big opportunity to work with with a a mainstream company. Reginald Ferguson [00:34:23]: So Alton Lane is known for their technology, through their clothing, meaning and I wanna know if this was your experience. Did they measure you through, through their laser technology? Andreas Varios [00:34:37]: Correct. Yeah. They have a machine that takes your measurements in addition to, you know, the salespeople who work there taking their measurements as well. Reginald Ferguson [00:34:47]: So how was that? Andreas Varios [00:34:50]: I'm you know, it it was it was an, you know, it was a good good experience to create content around for the video. It was really cool to show and kinda highlight that, and that's what they wanted. But, you know, as far as as making a really, perfect perfectly tailored suit, It was good. It was good. I you know, I'm not gonna say it was perfect, but it it was, you know, it was a you know, they make really good suits, and it was an interesting experience. And and definitely, I think it's good for their business. But Reginald Ferguson [00:35:21]: Do do you prefer do you prefer my question is, do you prefer going through a scanner versus having a gentleman or a lady measure up with a tape? Andreas Varios [00:35:33]: I think, personally, the best way to make a a made to measure suit is to literally have someone who really knows what they're doing measure you out completely, to get, you know, the best measurement measurements they can with their experience on how, you know, the suit's gonna be made. And then once the suit arrives, put it on, and then kinda do it again. And ultimately, did they did do that. So once the suit arrives, they say, hey, it's too long here. And they would, you know, retailer it. But here's what I'll say is it really does come down to the person who's measuring you. I think that is it's one of those, it's one of those trades where, you know, a machine I don't think can quite replace a human being on. And and when I say that it's because I worked with this other suit company called Sarato, Saratoi, Sartoiavani. Andreas Varios [00:36:30]: I'm kinda butchering their name. It's an Italian Sartoiavani. Yeah. It's an Italian company, and the owners run it. Their their stores, it's in, like, it's by Central Park in an old apartment, but they they turned it into, like, a little office space studio. It's really nice. But that experience and their expertise on made to measure, was out of control, perfect, phenomenal. And that suit is one of the nicest suits I've ever put on in my life. Andreas Varios [00:37:01]: And Samuel Sun, another suit company, they had they brought me in for a made to measure, instead of one off the rack, and it was a similar experience. They brought in this professional tailor, and he measured me to the t, and and that suit was just perfect. I I, you know, it's it's a hard business. I think making a suit that really fits someone perfectly, it takes takes the person who's doing the measurements, it takes experience, and it takes a certain amount of, natural understanding and being good at it too. It's it's kinda one of those things, you know, you can't teach it to everyone and and I really feel it's like that with a suit tailor, made to measure. So, you know, again, I don't wanna I don't wanna make it sound like what Alten Lane is doing is a bad business model. It's not. The the machine is good and and again, they have someone else who who measures you. Andreas Varios [00:37:56]: But I don't think you can supplement a machine for that for that person who's really good at what they do. Reginald Ferguson [00:38:03]: Correct. Past. No. No. I I totally I totally agree. But it it is a unique experience. I've never had it. I've always read about it. Reginald Ferguson [00:38:12]: You're one of the few people you're actually the only person I've ever known who's who's gone through the laser gauntlet. So, that's something. Andreas Varios [00:38:21]: Yeah. No. It was cool. It was cool. It was definitely a cool experience. Reginald Ferguson [00:38:27]: So with Alton Lane, how did it happen? You know, same type of situation. How how did how did the collabo occur? Andreas Varios [00:38:35]: So typically, you know, I'm kinda like think of me as, like, an independent artist. Right? I don't have an agent. I don't work with an agency. I go out and hunt and find all my brands to work with, or they find me, especially now as the socials grow, you know, 1,200,000 on TikTok, almost a 100 k on Instagram. But, yeah, I I don't have anyone who represents me. So I I literally will send a DM to the brand, and I will say, hey, You know, I would love to work with you. And then if they respond and they look at my profile and say, yes. Let's do it. Andreas Varios [00:39:09]: That's how that's how it goes down. Often often, you know, certain brands like Hugo Boss, they'll respond, but but pretty much saying, hey, there's nothing going on right now. Or sometimes there will be no response. But it's it's always me hitting them up in the DMs with a polite message and saying, hey. Can you put me in touch with your head of marketing? Give me an email address, and then kinda play it that way. Reginald Ferguson [00:39:33]: Nice. Nice. So Do you do you rock suits and you're seeking out, you know, These men's suiting brands and I know, you know, like you said, you've been millinery you did subway towels as t shirts blah blah blah blah But are you are you seeking out suits, guys, because of how you grew up or because of your former profession? What's what's the deal with you in the suits? Andreas Varios [00:40:00]: I I think it definitely plays into growing up and and, you know, spending a lot of time in in legal firms and and then, yeah, pursuing the career of a lawyer, you know, everyone wears suits. You're actually called a suit. So definitely, the industry I work in had had a, you know, was a big factor to it. But I think, more so than that, you know, when you model, you wanna feel good, you wanna look good. And, you know, I don't I don't think you can feel any better than when you wear a nice custom made suit. So so when it comes to modeling, it's like you put me in a suit and I kinda go into a mode where it's like I'm a model and I feel great in this attire and I'm gonna look great in these photos. But, if you put me in something more kinda like street wear, and I've done those those partnerships, that clothing can be great too. But, yeah, it's definitely like it's kind of like putting your cape on. Andreas Varios [00:40:59]: When you put a suit on, you just feel great. And and when you go model, that's how you wanna feel. You don't wanna feel kinda like, you know, you're wearing jeans and some tennis shoes and just kinda getting some some basic photos of you. You wanna feel like, you know, you're in a special special attire for a special event. Reginald Ferguson [00:41:19]: Gotcha. So what is your typical gear for you hitting the subways to do your shoots? Because you're not suited and booted, you know, when you're doing your shoots. So what's your what's your general attire? Andreas Varios [00:41:36]: So yeah. So I, you know, I I grew up playing sports my whole life. So I I kinda when I'm a photographer, I'm wearing, like, my Nike shorts, Nike shirt, you know, my my Air Jordans, really comfortable shoes. I wear my snapback hat. I'm just super comfortable, but I definitely have an athletic presence to me because, you know, 1, I like that look, and then 2, when you're taking these photos and you're lugging around all this camera gear, and you're you know, some of these photo shoots I had one last week, and that went 3 hours, and we started at 1 91st Street and went down to Grand Central. A lot of activity. So, you know, you're you're walking a lot. You're carrying probably 20 to 30 pounds of gear. Andreas Varios [00:42:20]: So because of that, I I kinda have this athletic mindset, and attire when I'm a photographer. Reginald Ferguson [00:42:27]: And does the does the attire alter at all, seasonally? Andreas Varios [00:42:34]: No. You know, maybe I'll I'll throw on because I wear the, the long leggings for underneath Reginald Ferguson [00:42:42]: my shorts. Andreas Varios [00:42:43]: So what I'll probably do, like, once it gets colder, and this is the beauty with the New York City subway, is for me, you know, 365, you know, you know, every year all every day during the year, it's it's comfortable down there. Minus the summers, let me pull back on that a little bit. The summers can get get really hot and brutal, of course. But during during the winter, you know, there's no better place to be than down underground. So you don't really need that many layers once you're on the subway. So pretty much all year round, I'll kinda wear the same outfit, regardless of the temperature or the season. Reginald Ferguson [00:43:21]: So I know you're I know you're gonna be coy with this question, but are there any, are there any big brands coming up that you're pitching on the suit tip that you're feeling positive about? Andreas Varios [00:43:34]: So, you know, it's it's interesting. Right now, I don't have any partnerships with suit companies. I just finished one with with Samuelson. We just did a spring, 2020, so we'll probably come back together for the fall. But what I just did is a, a partnership with a watch company called Parmigiani Fluere. And they're they're basically the most one of the most boutique watch companies in the world. So if you think of Rolex, Rolex makes, you know, let's say over a 1000000 watches a year. Parmesan makes only 5,000 a year. Andreas Varios [00:44:13]: So they're very, very boutique, and very limited in what they make every year. And watches range between 15,000 up to a quarter of a1000000. So I just did I just finished that shoot last weekend. I did part of it, I did in the studio. So it's my first time working doing studio work, and I'm the model during this. I'm not taking photos. Oh, okay. Yeah. Andreas Varios [00:44:37]: So I had photos taken of me by this photographer, Sophia, and the first half was in her studio and the second half was in SoHo. So this was branding a watch. And for the studio shoot, I wore the Sartori Bonnie suit. And then for the Soho, I had more of a YSL kind of, lifestyle kind of street wear attire on. But but it was really like it was an interesting, you know, partnership because getting photos of watches is is kind of a challenge. Right? It's a small item on your wrist. And that's a big reason why I love working with Goran Bros is the product is so easy to to take photos of. A hat. Reginald Ferguson [00:45:19]: That's right. It's so Andreas Varios [00:45:20]: easy to take photos of, and it looks so good, from every angle. But a watch is, like, so particular and so small, and there's so many details on it that you literally need a a different type of lens to get those details. You need a macro lens, and Sofia had that. So that was one thing I vetted with her is I'm like, do you have a macro lens? But this was a whole new beast for me, and I actually just submitted the photos to them on Wednesday, today's Thursday, and they got back to me. I gave them 21 photos. Guess how many they said they approve? Reginald Ferguson [00:45:54]: 1. Andreas Varios [00:45:55]: 5. Mhmm. So I was like at first, I was like, you know, if they hear this, this is fine. At first, I was just like a little bit like and I wrote wrote back to Anne. I'm like, you guys only selected 5 of the 21 and I haven't heard back from her yet. And, of course, I said, you know, I I received the payment. Thank you for everything. But at first, I'm like I'm like because these photos and if and it's new to me, of course, but I think they're gorgeous. Andreas Varios [00:46:20]: I mean, they're they're very unique. It's like a photo of the watch and then you see my jawline structure in the background or a photo of the watch, and, you know, just like little accent marks of my body, or, you know, full range body. But I love these photos, but, I I think 5 is actually a good thing, You know, I think actually them and this is a big watch company. You know, they have almost 200,000 followers. They're verified on TikTok. And, again, they're they're a multimillion dollar watch company, so their image is very important to them, and they're very, very picky. But, but, yeah, I just finished that with them, and we're about to launch it either the week of 19th or I think the, we'll probably do the following week because I'm actually doing, a release of a calendar with Subway Creatures the week of 19th. So the following week, and we're gonna launch for that, and you'll see the photos, and and they're gorgeous. Andreas Varios [00:47:11]: They're just beautiful photos. Sofia did an amazing job, and we get very granular with just photos of the watch. And I'm I'm really proud of that project. But but, you know, it's like every project I do with with every brand, and this is kind of what I was alluding to earlier, is it's tough. It's really tough working for brands because, you know, what your expectations are can be very different from what what or what your style and what you like can be different from what they like. And especially with my type of photography, it's always a little bit kinda more, edgy and different, and of course, they knew that working with me. But, yeah, when you work with a brand, it's just like you can't can't can't take offense to if they don't like the images as much as you do or if they see them differently, whatever it is. But you just hope that something resonates with them. Andreas Varios [00:48:01]: And I know when we post these photos, the comments, the likes, the shares, the engagement on their page and my page, it's gonna be great, and that's gonna be also a big factor as as how they perform. Reginald Ferguson [00:48:16]: The time is really unfortunate coming coming short, coming to a close. I want us to talk about this cat that I discovered through you that I think we would both be remiss if we didn't mention him in the pod. How did you find, I call him the hip hop captain America because he was frozen and then he came back to life. I literally told him that on the DM. And stop fronting, son. I asked you to come on the pod as well. Maybe now since Andreas comes on, now maybe you'll come on. What is the deal with Lerock Starsky? Oh my gosh. Reginald Ferguson [00:48:51]: Oh my god is right. Ladies and gentlemen, I am convinced this guy is 50 something years old and he's just rocking the gear from when he was in his teens and twenties. But every time I look at him, I'm like, I was there. I was there because I was there. So, Andreas, tell tell the world here about Leroux Starsky. Andreas Varios [00:49:13]: So, you know, the premise of my account and and the people I work with is it's always, you know, what's their passion. Right? What is it that they love and and, you know, show on on their accounts and their content. And, you know, like working with ballerinas, of course, contortionists, you know, this girl who's just all about vintage clothing. But Lee Rock, what he's all about is the eighties. And he literally, you know, immediately when I saw his account with his his clothing and his style and his boom boxes, I said, you know, wow, what an account. And I would love to shoot with this guy. But that's always a premise when I collaborate with these people is I see what they're passionate about. And I always just tell them, it's so easy. Andreas Varios [00:49:57]: Like, let's just get what you love on the New York City subway, which is what I love, and let's let's create content. So, but, yeah, Leerock is all about the eighties. And he literally Yes. He's a DJ, and he literally dresses like that every single day. He lives in the 80s. Reginald Ferguson [00:50:17]: I know. Andreas Varios [00:50:17]: So Yes. Reginald Ferguson [00:50:18]: I know. Andreas Varios [00:50:19]: It's like and and that's why people love Lee Rock. And when I presented him on my account, people went crazy because Reginald Ferguson [00:50:26]: Yes. Andreas Varios [00:50:26]: They knew right away that Reginald Ferguson [00:50:27]: this guy is the Andreas Varios [00:50:28]: yeah. This guy is the real deal as far as, being all about it 247. So, yeah, that's Lerach. He he literally just dresses, from the eighties. He plays music from the eighties. He's a DJ, that plays, you know, eighties music. He lives it every single day. Reginald Ferguson [00:50:46]: Yeah. He absolutely does. I see stuff on his on his IG, particularly stories, and I DM them. I'm like, where'd you get that? Like, how old are you, really? Like, I was there. Were you there? Wait. Who are you? It's it's just it's like he I'm telling you. I literally he said he's gonna use that. I said, please use it. Reginald Ferguson [00:51:05]: He is the hip hop Captain America. Because I think he was frozen, and then he's been reanimated. Because I'm like, How He's so It's to the letter. It's it's amazing. I'm really convinced. I'm like, How old are you? Because he kind of I'm like, What? What? He he doesn't miss a beat, and it's it's really It's cool to see. It's cool to see. Andreas Varios [00:51:26]: It's a religion, you know? It's it's, it's a lifestyle. And, you know, it's funny. I actually don't know how old Lerach is, but I I would guess that he is younger than I am. I'm 35. I think he's in his late twenties, maybe early thirties max. He he's not he's not an old guy. But but, yeah, his inspiration, his passion, and again, that's what it is. He's passionate about that lifestyle. Andreas Varios [00:51:54]: Oh my god. Reginald Ferguson [00:51:54]: That's why Andreas Varios [00:51:54]: he does it Yes. Every single day. Reginald Ferguson [00:51:57]: Yeah. And he's got I approve. Andreas Varios [00:51:58]: That's the other thing you should you will see he's got a whole crew of guys who do the same thing, and they're they're all about it. So if you could somehow, start with Leerock and then kind of progress to the rest of the crew. I I'm telling you, you you know, you could have stories to tell for forever. Reginald Ferguson [00:52:16]: I I would love to. Please DM him. I DM'd him. He saw the message. He did not respond. Lerach, stop fronting. I'll let Andreas Varios [00:52:24]: him know. I'll let him know. -Yeah. Reginald Ferguson [00:52:26]: -Hit him. I'm like, I was there. He represents it. It's great. I know he's got that other cat, Coolout K. I mean, it's just it's it's an inspiration. It's a joy to watch. And, yeah, I'd love to have him on the pod. Reginald Ferguson [00:52:38]: So we rock again, stop the button. Yeah. I remember we. Well, I'm gonna have to pick your brain just so I can become more relevant. Andreas Varios [00:53:15]: No. I'll connect you. It's as simple as that. You know, sometimes people, especially on Instagram, you know, I always respond to everyone. Anyone who sends me a DM, as long as it's appropriate, or an email, I always get back to them because you never know what opportunities, could lie there. And and, like, Parmigiani, they sent me a DM, and and I responded to them and did some research. And I was, like, great opportunity. So, but some people are reluctant to to open up and trust through the DMs, but, and maybe Lee Rock is just kinda, he's not sure if it's a credible source or not. Reginald Ferguson [00:53:50]: That's credible. No. I We've talked before. Andreas Varios [00:53:53]: Yeah. Like, now that we're talking, you know, but I I, you know, I I at least responded to you and got to know you. And he he, you know, some people don't do that. So, but I I personally, I think it's like you never know what opportunities are are being presented. And and again, we live in a, you know, a generation now where this is how we communicate is through social media. So it's not weird to me. But I can't speak for Lee Rock. I will put you in touch with him, and you guys are definitely gonna, you know, do something with your podcast, and and I look forward to hearing it. Reginald Ferguson [00:54:24]: Andreas, I really appreciate that. I've got one last question for you. You've already hinted at it. What does it mean for you to be fly? Andreas Varios [00:54:36]: Wow. To be fly. Well, look, I I think, you know, it's kind of a twofold answer here. The first thing is just to be to be passionate. Right? To have some sort of, passion, creative outlet and and and let the energy, you know, release through that. And that's how I find my fly, Andreas, you know, inner inner, you know, kind of artist, you know, calling who I am. So for energy to be fly, it's, like, figure out a way to to to channel your creative energy and find your passion. And, of course, for me, it's photography through the New York City subway. Andreas Varios [00:55:15]: But as far as fashion goes, and and this is kind of what I was going back to earlier, is we express ourselves, through our music, through our clothing, through our content, whatever whatever it is we're doing. But for me, it's definitely having something that's that fits my body, is tailored to my body. It's not too loose around the waist. And I'm actually a pretty simple guy. I I kinda like basics, right? Like my basics is just like a black t shirt with a pair of theory pants, and some nice kicks. But, I think at the end of the day, just clothing that fits me fits me well. Reginald Ferguson [00:55:56]: Sounds good. Andres, his handle is mister New York City Subway, Andres Verios. I'm glad that we could finally do this. Andreas Varios [00:56:06]: Likewise, Reg. Thank you so much for this, podcast. And and, yeah, we should definitely reconnect in, like, 6 months because, a lot has changed for me just in the past 2 or 3 months. And I think if we connect every 6 months or so, and I'm sure the same thing for you, there will be a lot more to talk about. And, of course, you know, the big thing people always ask me is, you know, when am I gonna leave my my career as an attorney and become a full time content creator, photographer, and and, you know, the answer is I don't have any expectations on that, but only time will tell and and and we'll see where life takes me. Reginald Ferguson [00:56:45]: We'll see you in 6 months. I look forward to it, and I'll see you on the train. Andreas Varios [00:56:50]: Alright, Reg. Sounds good. Reginald Ferguson [00:56:52]: Always be fly. Andreas Varios [00:56:53]: You too, man. You too.
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