Maurice Malone's designs are at the apex of where craftsmanship and streetwear meet.
As the creative mind behind two brands, Maurice Malone and Williamsburg Garment Company (WGC), New York-based denim stalwart Maurice Malone is able to flex his design muscles in a multitude of ways, while bringing a level of expertise and history to the jeanswear category.
Having started his namesake line when he was just 19 years old, the veteran earned his stripes during the ’80s and ’90s designing the era’s baggy jean silhouettes before mainstream labels made it trendy. In 1997, he earned a CFDA nomination for the Perry Ellis Award for Menswear.
Malone’s passion for denim and streetwear hasn’t waned. With WGC, Malone continues to execute raw Made in USA jeans, while the recently relaunched Maurice Malone line puts a modern spin on traditional techniques, serving as the apex where craftsmanship and streetwear meet.
What will the denim industry be like in the next 18 months?
I think over the next 18 months the winners in the denim industry will adjust more quickly to the way business is increasingly being conducted online. I’ve been telling retailers over a decade now that they have to have an online arm of their business to survive. COVID-19 has exposed the vulnerabilities of businesses without an online presence.
As far as my brands, I don’t even try to sell retailers anymore. I am committed to direct-to-consumer. If a retailer wants to buy, I’d think about it but have no real urgency to close sales.
But what does this mean for the denim industries, manufacturers, suppliers and financers? The way consumers buy at the top eventually trickles down the supply chain. Meaning each year, more small direct-to-consumer businesses with a better understanding of consumers will open businesses and sell to them online and through social media.
Big dinosaur brands that are slow to change, or rooted in old ways, will die out as they always have. Manufacturers, suppliers, and the financial industry around denim will have to shift their ability to work with smaller companies. For manufacturers and suppliers, this means lower or no minimums. For traditional finance, it means getting creative or getting out.
Time to market changed a long time ago. New products are designed and sold to consumers faster each passing day. Eighteen months from now, more businesses will emerge or be optimized to sell smaller and faster. The driving force will be the digital consumer.
What changes would you like to see in the denim industry as a result of Covid-19?
I would like to see more financing options open up to small e-commerce businesses. I think Paypal is at the forefront of working with smaller digital-based businesses. E-commerce platforms are increasingly opening options for financial support.
How do you define sustainability in a post-pandemic world?
I define sustainability as products that are recycled, reusable, or does not produce lots of non-reusable or harmful waste. An example of this are face masks made from development samples and flawed unsellable T-shirt inventory.
Describe your dream jeans.
Jeans with stretch that age like rigid 100 percent cotton denim and doesn’t feel like or look like rubber pants.
What is your most worn pair of jeans, and why?
I prefer raw jeans, but since Covid-19 I wear more twills and joggers that go straight into the wash.
Name one word that best describes denim.