The modern, stylish setting of Capsule is the perfect backdrop for the well-curated collection of clothing and sportswear. I was fascinated to learn that the owner, Daniel Farouk, originally from Ghana, always had a passion for fashion, but actually studied aeronautics and trained to be a commercial pilot. It was only after finishing his pilot certification that he found he missed fashion, prompting him to emigrate to the States to delve into the industry. He never received any formal training - instead, what he knows he learned “on the streets and on the job. ” For a period of a few years Daniel worked at Sammy’s Fashion in the Bronx as a buyer and then became head buyer before opening his own stunning sportswear store. Stopping by in the middle of the afternoon on a warm July day, in 2017, it became immediately apparent that many are attracted to this beautiful shop. I was surprised by the number of people from every age group that were there chatting with the friendly, knowledgeable sales staff, while browsing through the well-presented racks of men's and women's clothing. I loved that not only were there jeans, jerseys, sweatshirts, athletic shorts and baseball hats, but there were also women's handbags and an adorable pile of t-shirts for little ones. Walking towards the back of the store, and up a step, a sliding door opened automatically to reveal an eye-catching display of unisex sneakers, as well as a selection of other stylish shoes and boots. When Daniel got a moment to breath, he came over to speak with the Manhattan Sideways team. He was proud to share that he had personally designed the store and its decor, focusing on a vision of brick walls and wood pallets to display his merchandise. Daniel told us that his goal in opening the store two years prior in 2015 was to “supply customers with stuff that is rare, ” and he takes care to order clothes that are exclusive and high-end. “We’re trendy, in that we try to stay ahead of the trends, ” he explained. A big advantage in accomplishing this is the fact that he works the floor and interacts with customers on a daily basis. That way, when the time comes to order new items, he can search out things that he knows will be “hot for the customers” rather than relying on general fads. Daniel chose Harlem as the ideal neighborhood to set up shop because he felt it was the “birthplace of fashion” and has a colorful past. His particular location on 125th Street has a very rich history, as it housed the famous M& G Diner, which was used as a filming location for movies like Precious and Belly and even a James Brown shoot. To respect this legendary site, Daniel has kept the diner’s sign displayed on his storefront. Despite his fondness for their current location, Daniel is hoping to open more shops around the city and in other boroughs. He was happy to say that they have “gotten a lot of love” from their customers and the neighborhood over the past two years. This is partly because Daniel is dedicated to providing an approachable shopping experience, where anyone can feel free to peruse his high-end wares without feeling any scrutiny or pressure. As a result, people who frequent the store range from Harlem locals to well known athletes and celebrities. When asked how he attracts so many high-profile clients, Daniel stated simply, "social media. " He then went on to say, “We have the hottest brands, the hottest fashions, and we’re growing daily. ”
"Sneaker culture is very strong, " employee Roger DaCosta shared with me when I sat down on West NYC's comfy, bright blue, suede couch. The store caters to an "urban and straight forward" crowd, who know what they want and know they will find it on West 72nd Street. The shop often features collaborations with brands like New Balance and Saucony, designed by employee Al Rivera, and produced in small quantities of under a thousand. When a limited edition is released, customers flock to the store. Some will camp outside to make sure they will be one of the elite few to sport the sneaker. Al told us that when his "Alpine Guy" shoe became available, there was a line around the corner for five hours. Lester, son of Danny Wasserman - whose family celebrated their seventy-fifth anniversary of the Upper West Side staple, Tip Top Shoes in 2015 - recognized the need and desire of people in the neighborhood for a specialty shop that focused on sneakers. After receiving years of training from his dad, he opened his own store in 2007. It became an instant success, attracting people from around the city. In addition to the clever concept, I believe that it is the genuine interest and strong passion that the guys who run the show have for the products that they sell. On any given day, one can walk into West NYC and find a group gathered in a heated conversation about sneakers - the style, the comfort, the price and, of course, the customer who will wear them.