Diego León strikes a pose in his signature Dandy in the Bronx hat. By Diego León.

Ten years ago, Bronx preschool teacher Diego León was influencing students. Now, as the social media fashion brand Dandy in the Bronx, he influences thousands online, with a digital footprint that has commanded the attention of Cricket Wireless, Amazon and the Empire State Building, amongst others. 

As vast as his social media reach may be, the fashion influencer remains fixed in the Bronx, and Hunts Point in particular. His journey from public school teacher to online style guru has been unexpected, he said, but it grew out of his desire to showcase the unique energy of his home borough. 

“The Bronx is all about defeating adversity. They tried to burn down the Bronx, but we’re still here,” said León, who flicks on a flattering light for all his Zoom calls.  

León’s attention to detail is part of what has propelled his fashion recommendations and menswear looks to social media fame. As Dandy in the Bronx, he doles out advice on what is in and what is out for each season, and models his own unique takes on what is currently in style. Right now, he has some counsel for men buying pants.  

“Fashion is cyclical. So for men, I would say that skinny jeans are over this season. Consider buying relaxed, bootcut pants,” he said.

Dandy in the Bronx was born out of León’s connection to his students at Johnson’s Academy in Queens. Students wore uniforms to class, and Leon decided to create a uniform for himself. He began wearing suits – decked out with his special touches – and sharing his looks on his Instagram account. 

It wasn’t long before a brand messaged him and asked him to wear one of their products – and León realized Dandy in the Bronx had big potential. 

“I took a break from teaching to take some digital marketing classes. This was in 2014. My niche was men’s fashion and lifestyle. And of course — my love for my neighborhood,” he said. 

Other creators he followed highlighted their connections to their neighborhoods, but most of them were based in Brooklyn or Manhattan, he said. He grew up in Hunts Point, before high-rise apartments stretched the skyline and rents soared along with them. 

“I wanted to highlight where I lived. Be a dandy, in the Bronx,” León said.  

Azadeh Valanejad, a content creator León frequently collaborates with, said the former teacher makes the extra effort to promote local businesses.  

“He even has the 6 train icon as part of his branding,” said Valanejad. 

León’s interest in fashion came long before his interest in becoming an influencer, he said. He taught himself the basics of dressing and menswear through social media, by following other fashionistas. 

Later, as he began to develop his Dandy brand, he taught himself skills like Photoshop and Lightroom to make his pictures pop online. 

León’s social media empire is growing every day. He produces content consistently for various platforms — Twitch, TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube, showcasing a different facet of his personality for each. He touts relatability as an important factor while trying to build and connect with an audience. 

Which is why, on some of his platforms, León has built a following for playing Pokémon. He believes it’s important to showcase some of his real-life interests in his content. 

“I play Pokémon GO for my audiences on YouTube and Twitch,” he said.  “The other day, I took my audience on a walk on a live stream, because they had a Pokémon GO event at the Empire State Building. I walked from the Bronx to the Empire State Building, playing Pokémon GO and engaging with my audience.” Naturally, as Dandy in the Bronx, he did it in a shirt and tie. 

“Diego’s work ethic is unparalleled,” says Melanie Sutrathada, an actor, host and creator León has collaborated with for nearly a decade. “He is hard-working, dedicated and always brings his best to any room he is in.” 

Dandy from his Dandy in the Bronx Instagram.

Working in social media isn’t always easy, said León. Even the simplest content post can take significant work, and he’s careful to try and keep his brand authentic for his followers. 

“Social media is very curated, often showing you the best version of things,” he said. It’s also about paying bills, which requires at least some sponsored content, he acknowledged. 

“When I do that, I make sure that it comes from an organic place. I always try to keep it as real as I can,” he said. 

People sometimes ask him if he plans to leave the Bronx, but for León – and Dandy in the Bronx – there’s only one answer: No. 

“I saw Brooklyn change — it’s so gentrified now,” said León. While he’s not against change, he hopes the Bronx can retain its history and its unique culture as it modernizes.  

“I know I’m going to stay here. The Bronx to me is proof that we keep going,” he said.

About Post Author