I arrived in New York City in January of 2006. The aughts were an interesting time to be in New York. The recovery from 9/11 gave the city a sense of resilience but the Great Recession hadn’t reshaped the financial landscape of the country just yet.
I moved to Manhattan because I wanted to work in fashion. I didn’t have any relevant experience. I’d studied economics. But I was a blogger and that turned out to be enough to find a way in.
I met a man in the comments section of our respective fashion blogs as back then back links were an acceptable form of socializing. We both moved to the city the same week. He would become my cofounder on a fashion media startup and also my boyfriend. Yes it’s as dysfunctional as it sounds. Don’t worry we are still friends.
We’ve got a lot of fond memories of the Aughts. New media was just coming into its own. The possibility that it might change industries like fashion seemed exciting and democratic for style. No one had figured out how to grift by “influencing” yet. Which meant actual influence was still possible.
That first generation of bloggers was more influential in moving industries like culture than the commercial milieu we have now. Less lucrative certainly but the impact was significant. Good stuff actually emerged from living instead of someone imitating living.
My friend (the ex and cofounder) are considering writing a chronicle of our time. Partially it’s an exercise in nostalgia. It was a lot of fun. Maybe it’s a bit of an ego trip to think we could’ve even write some fiction that ties together the ethos and the aesthetics of that moment.
Back then we hadn’t cracked up the media industrial complex into algorithms and big automated ads dollars. A lot more got done in restaurants, bars and parties. The city itself hadn’t turned over into the complete plutocracy that dominates now. The kleptocrats needed the financial industry to implode and get bailed out for that kind of real estate takeover. Before the bailouts maybe the rest of us good maintain the delusion that we too could strike it rich. Now the distance is too great.
It was an era when Condé Nast mattered. Finance was a thing the cute guys with ambitions for money did, not yet a space that was entirely populated by Hedge Fund guys set on moving to Planet Billionaire.
And holy fuck the parties were great. Classes mingled more without the stratification that came out of the Great Recession. You could be someone even if you lived in a shitty barely heated no hot water squat loft on Bowery. It still cost $1600 but better than the 16K a month I saw it go for recently. You could get into club if you had some style. Instead of convincing people you mattered because you had a bunch of followers you had to convince someone you were cool.
I know this all sounds like bullshit old person nonsense mumbling about past good times. So if we do write about the Aughts it will take a lot better writing to make it compelling. I think it’s possible as I still retain a sense of place that I think is worth sharing. I’ve got ridiculous stories that could make for a fun read. So I’m putting the energy into the universe that I’ll capture those moments and share.