What It's Like to Sell Drugs at New York Fashion Week
"All the stereotypes are true," a dealer and model agent told us. "They aren't even stereotypes—they're just true."
Photo via Flickr user Imagens Evangelicas
From the widespread rumors about Kate Moss's cocaine use to clothing lines with ad campaigns that feature a model blatantly sniffing poppers, it's no secret that drug use and fashion go hand-in-hand. While not all models and scene-y industry types are cocaine fiends (there's Adderall too, duh), things get turned up a notch during New York Fashion Week, when countless Europeans in panther fur jackets, greased-up hair, and disposable incomes descend on the city to stand next to their equally-terrible New York counterparts at runway presentations and after-parties.
A couple years ago, VICE spoke to a drug dealer about how biz skyrockets during Miami Art Basel, so we decided it'd be a good idea to talk to another dope peddler about putting in work at NYFW. After our regular connects blacklisted us the moment we said "question for an article," we remembered that our one friend who works in the fashion industry as a modeling agent used to push weight. He works at a top-tier company, and doesn't want his employers to know he mixed business with shady side hustles, so he asked us to use his pseudonyms "Dick Tracy, Brian Boitano, or Manny Ribera lol."
VICE: What kind of work do you do in the fashion industry?
Dick Tracy: I'm technically an agent, booker, manager—they're all the same thing. I'm going on year five. I manage 70 to 90 models, but they're not all in town at the same time. The biggest show my models are walking at this fashion week includes spots at Calvin Klein and Marc Jacobs.
Do you currently sell drugs on top of your fashion job?
Right now, I just buy weed in bulk—mostly as a means to smoke for free. It started the same with the other shit. I never sold coke, but for a couple years, I had molly all the time. That sparked out of nowhere. My friend who sold was going out of town and I took over for him. It sold itself. I sold to friends and some people who I work with.
For the other stuff, the harder drugs, I sold more to the club kids—that stuff goes hand-in-hand with people in that world. I try not to sell to people I work with, and keep those worlds separate, though sometimes it was too easy not to. I stopped selling harder stuff over a year ago. I was taking way too much, and the only way to stop was to get it out of my hands.
Are all the stereotypes about the fashion world and cocaine and drug use true?
All the stereotypes are true. They aren't even stereotypes—they're just true. My coworker just got back from the menswear shows in Milan and supposedly one of the big designers passed around a chalice of cocaine at an after-party.
Are any designers notorious for drug use at their parties?
I'd say any party with an open bar wins. That's a given. You can guess about the partying culture based on the overall vibes from the brand itself, you know?
Which drug do you think is hot this year and why? Is cocaine still the most popular?
Coke definitely. Molly had its time and then became really shitty. I felt like molly was hotter than coke last year—maybe because of all the rappers getting more involved with fashion around the time. Hip-hop ingrains a lot of the "what's hot" shit in people's head. It seems everyone ditched molly this year once it got really diluted. You'll find that with coke too, but not as much. It's the staple.
Do you think people buy more drugs during fashion week, compared to another week in the winter?
Yes, interest increases during NYFW. First off, there are more people in town. It's February, so people haven't been going out as much in general. But now that it's Fashion Week, there's always something to do every night no matter what. Interest surges.
I'm sure fashion week is a boost for most dealers. NYFW is coupled with the NBA All-Star Game this year, so I can imagine it'll be a good "season." There's a huge influx of users that are not normally here, especially the Europeans.
I still get hit up all the time even though I don't sell anymore. But often, people just want to be pointed in the right direction since I've been out of the game for a bit. And they hook me up—I'll get a kickback in some form or another.
How much more would you be pushing during fashion week when you were in the game?
I would buy a lot. Quadruple as much as the typical load. I forget how much, in specific, but I would guess $2,000 worth in a week, sometimes about a pound*. The most I ever sold in one sitting was probably an ounce of molly—it gets up there when it comes to weed, too.
The people who were buying from me would spread the word right away and I'd be getting blown up off the bat by customers... That'd go really quickly. I'd go through a pound in a week—way, way faster during fashion week. I liked to get in bulk because getting more after the first pick-up was often a pain in the ass.
Where would you sell drugs during fashion week?
I pretty much always sold at the after-parties. I'd also carry shit on me during the day because people would hit me up all the time. They'd meet me at the office, the gym, the parties. I didn't have to go anywhere, but rather people came to me.
Do dealers take advantage of people who are buying during fashion week?
I could see people taking advantage, especially since customers aren't going to come back again. They're just in town for the week or weekend, typically. Girls are in town for the shows, it's often their first time here, and they're going crazy. If they have money, then yeah some people take advantage.
What about people in the industry using drugs to get favors?
When you're a female model, the non-model, fashion crowd types will do a lot of stuff to get your attention. Promoters, for example, will do anything to get you at their table: pick the girls up in a car, take them out to dinner, make sure they come out, maybe get them drugs. I always hear about a ton of shady shit in the male modeling world. "Gay for pay" is definitely a thing, and I'm sure drugs are associated.
As a model agent, do you care if your clients are doing drugs during fashion week?
As an agent, I want to know what they're doing, and it helps if they are honest with me about what they're up to so I can help them out if they get into any shit. But I'll see it on social media either way—they put it all online and it's hard for them to hide stuff. As long as they don't look like shit at their call time, and there's no last-minute frantic phone calls in the morning, it's fine with me. I'm always covering shit up—it's just the nature of the job. I'm falsifying things or smoothing things out to make it better.
There are the girls who are gung ho about becoming a star and are troopers when it comes to getting there—and they won't do drugs. Others get sucked into the partying world and think they can still do both. The younger models are more prone to be getting into this stuff because they're often by themselves and don't get the city yet. Girls who don't sleep and are drinking all night end up with bloated faces, and that doesn't work too well when you're out on castings.
Do people ever do drugs during the day during fashion week to keep up?
Absolutely—I've witnessed and partook. Sometimes, you gotta do what you gotta do to get through the day. Especially during fashion week, you're working all day non-stop, and then out at client parties after. Matthew McConaughey's character in Wolf of Wall Street comes to mind.
Do you have any stories about deals gone sour or just general complications of selling during fashion week?
One time I gave myself a legitimate panic attack. I got drunk and hid my drugs somewhere I don't normally put them. I freaked out and thought they were stolen.
Another time, a group of Israeli guys who were going out after they asked me to meet them at a strip club. They bought from me, and then wouldn't let me leave. They bought me drinks, bought me lap dances, etc... it took forever to get out of there. And this was all for a couple grams of molly.
The worst was one time I sold to someone in his car. I accidentally left my phone in there and realized it the moment he started driving away. I whipped out my iPad and used the "Find my iPhone" app while chasing the car down Lafayette street like a maniac. I should have used a burner.
Do models from specific countries party the hardest?
Australian models, for sure. Everyone down there is full of energy, and down to do whatever. British models come in at a close second.
*Due to a transcription error, an earlier version of this post misstated the amount of molly our source was referring to—he said he would sell about $2,000 worth of drugs in a week, and sometimes up to a pound of molly, not two pounds valued at $2,000.
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