Fallon’s purchases served as an onboarding to life in the city: “I would recognize a local restaurant, then go grab a slice of pizza from that restaurant, and it was the best pizza I ever had.” After the best slice of pizza of his life, he told himself, “I’m going to come back here, this is my spot, and now I have the tee, so I connected to it. Ultimately, that started happening more and more.” Fallon was tapping into the version of New York that’s faded a bit in recent years, as historic storefronts host bank branches, fast fashion reigns, and a good slice on every block becomes less and less likely.
As time went on, Fallon became a sort of tour guide. “I had all this stuff, and [people] would be like, where’d you get that? Where’s this from? What’s the story behind this?” While working odd jobs in 2017 and dreaming of working for himself, the words “Fantasy” and “Explosion” came together in conversation with friend Nicolas Heller, known to the Internet as New York Nico—a fellow millennial historian of weird New York City. “[The words] flew out of my mouth,” he says. “I said, If I don’t do this now, it’s never going to happen.”
Supply for Fantasy is dependent on what Fallon calls “the wild”—the strange, beguiling stuff he finds. “I pick everything because I personally like it,” he says. “In my archive, I have a lot of stuff. I’m not going to release that all at once. I want it to remain special.” No more than half of each drop is New York-related, situated alongside broader vintage that compliments it.
The vibe is carefully calibrated. On the hunt for MTA gear, Fallon fell in love with the custom fits worn by the city’s operators, official gear souped up with stunning embroideries of city buses and skylines and references to life on the job like NOT IN SERVICE PLEASE BELIEVE ME. “WHEN I MOVE YOU MOVE, JUST LIKE THAT was probably the most striking one,” Fallon tells me, citing a popular version. There is delight in knowing such an unlikely garment exists: a Ludacris hook repurposed to encapsulate the pride in what it takes to make New York City work…just like that.
He began recreating the bootleg design on totes and tees. “I want to make that accessible, recreate it so that everyone can enjoy it,” Fallon explains. But it’s not just about cool graphics. Anyone who’s had a lifeguard-style hoodie crappily heat-transferred at a shop on the Jersey Shore know that there is style in signaling regionality. Fallon calls this first offering the catalyst for his brand going beyond vintage. “It did bonkers numbers online, and I was just like, holy shit.”
Fantasy’s other notable bootleg was the now out-of-production Guggenheim collegiate hoodie. (The account’s Instagram stories suggests it might be returning). That one blew up when Frank Ocean wore it in 2019. “That was a big moment for us. It got a little too big, we got a little too hot,” Fallon explains. Still, the attention accelerated Fantasy Explosion’s explosion, and now a variety of shop gear is consistently for sale outside weekly drops. The designs—like this solid tee with a small Yankees-esque “NY” surrounded by “Fantasy Explosion” in Old English typeface—fit right in. The idea is that the Fantasy Explosion aesthetic has grown recognizable enough to spur its own collection of non-vintage gear.
Despite the success, Fallon insists that a transition to all shop gear isn’t the goal. “I don’t want to be a streetwear brand, but I do want to make bootlegs over the likes of bootlegs,” he explains, “I never want to step away from vintage.” The future of Fantasy, Fallon says, rests in collaborations on original garments to support local businesses, or maybe an expansion into home goods. Ultimately, Fallon wants to make clothing rooted in love for New York, no matter the origins. “My goal isn’t to become a streetwear brand releasing t-shirt designs,” he says. “My goal is to create pieces of clothing that people actually want to fuck with and want to wear.”