When did you start designing/when did you realize you wanted to become a fashion designer?
I'm from Detroit, Michigan and my career extends back to 1984. With aspirations to be a special effects artist, my career plans changed after seeing the British 80‚s group JoBoxers music video, Just Got Lucky. The singer wore a hat that I couldn’t find in any stores so I taught myself to sew to make my own. At age 19, I then started a company named “Hardwear by Maurice Malone” and began selling the hats to local stores.
In 1991, I entered the jeans industry with “Mojeans” and targeted my line at the hip-hop market. This brand helped establish myself as one of the founding forces behind the birth of Hip-Hop fashion. By 1997, I was staging designer fashion runway shows during NY Fashion Week and my debut tailored men’s collection drew wide spread ovation, earning myself a nomination for the Perry Ellis Award for New Menswear Designer of the Year.
From 2004 to 2006, I presented collections during a short-lived partnership with my eyewear licensee. Later, with backing a factory I re-launched the Mojeans collection under the “Black Label” name, which featured a skull-winged logo for the Premium Streetwear Market.
From the later part of 2006 to 2011, I worked out of sight, mainly earning freelance and production work through my company DenimWork.com
Williamsburg Garment Company, Inc was originally set-up in 2009 to raise capital for a tailored collection called “Fat Mattresses &nd Golden Underwear” but exhausted with the process of seeking investors, I decided the time had come to take my own advice that I had given to many young designers seeking my guidance and approach launching a new collection as a new designer with limited funds.
Following my advice, the Williamsburg Garment Company brand was born and launched in November 2011. Williamsburg Garment Company is currently establishing a foundation in the world’s top designer boutiques and denim specialty stores.
Do you try to send a message or theme through your clothing?
Williamsburg Garment Company designs denim with a tagline “cash only to trade,” which means WGC’s selling price to the trade is so low that they use a cash and carry business model in order to survive finance charges, unpaid invoices, returns, and other common costly expenses that usually drive up the prices to the trade at the wholesale level. With the crazy markup, most companies have you paying an extra $100 for the branded label. I rather my customer save $100 and get a pair of our jeans, which is still high quality and with no outer labeling other than a subtle logo.
What fabric and or materials do you like to work with most?
I prefer to work with raw denim and cotton. Raw Denim is best when worn for a long period of time before washing. This way you can form your own natural whiskers, wrinkles and unique worn areas.
We make in the USA and China. Our USA styles are made in Los Angeles and start shipping to stores for the 1st time within the next few weeks. I’m savvy in my sourcing and I don’t work within industry standard mark-up, so I can price my USA made jeans at $129 without sacrificing quality, only $24 more then our best selling imported “Grand Street” jeans.
Interview: Rhea Reid
A lot of designers experience ups and downs throughout their career. Have you encountered any setbacks?
In Fall 2001 there were massive order cancellations for my designer label "Maurice Malone, which lead to financial troubles that later killed the business after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. In 2010, I was also going to launch my new men’s designer collection called “Fat Mattresses and Golden Underwear,” but the production of suits, sweaters, shirts and outerwear proved too costly without backers, so only a sample collection was produced.