Williamsburg Garment Co. is designing denim for the people: quality over quantity at the closest you’ll get to factory direct prices. Founder, owner, and head designer Maurice Malone (who’s no stranger to the denim business—he’s served as head of design and project manager to a top freelance denim design studio for over ten years) says one of Steve Jobs‘ famous quotes sparked the company’s beginning: “Think Different”. And different, he’s doing it. With the utmost in fabric quality, pristine washes, and some serious neighborhood pride (all fits are named after Streets and Avenues in Williamsburg, Brooklyn), WGC is about to be the new favorite brand of every denim snob on the East Coast (and those of us who just want an awesome product we can afford). Read on to find out how all of this started, and where it’s headed.
Denim Therapy: Lets start from the beginning. What inspired you to get this brand off the ground?
Maurice Malone: I went into business with virtually no money by today’s business standards. My love and passion for design is what inspires and drives me. My knowledge, experience and limited budget drove me to come up with the formula for this brand. I can’t out-BIG any company, so I made being a small my advantage.
I approached launching this brand inspired by Apple’s “Think Different” campaign, Steve Jobs, Facebook and Opening Ceremony’s marketing power.
DT: How does WGC differentiate itself from the hundreds of popular denim brands afloat right now?
MM: Retailers like me because I can deliver a great product at nearly factory direct prices, allowing them an incredible mark-up on product that is among the lowest priced and highest quality in their stores. For consumers looking for a great pair of jeans, my product is a no-brainer. Pay an extra $100 or more to be branded with labels on your jeans or save $100 and get a pair of jeans: a better product with no outer labeling. Our branding is in our unique coin pocket, subtle logo on the inside of the waistband.
DT: We could probably talk for pages about this unique business model for WGC, but let’s talk product. Do you have any pre-designing rituals?
MM: I constantly remind myself to keep it simple and clean. Quality, Fit and Simplicity are the core goals of the product. Low pricing is achieved through streamlined operations, production savvy and putting less in my pocket. WGC is not a brand selling the consumer a lifestyle, image or marketing to a specific segment. Product is increasingly becoming secondary in today’s market, but we’re making a high quality product competing with jeans upward of $200, for less then $100.
No, this isn’t a new idea, and I don’t pretend it to be. But when you look at my product inside and out, there’s a huge difference between brands that claim this kind of quality at low prices, while they’re driving costs down by using low quality fabrics, inferior construction and high volume to lower their prices. I can beat big volume brands because I’m not profit driven. I don’t have all the expenses (sales commissions, warehousing, staff, returns, etc).
I’m a “small time operation” doing “small time business”. That’s my advantage.
DT: Describe your ideal target customer.
MM: I see the brand product based, so I don’t really have a target customer as much as I have a target retailer. I would like to see the brands consumer acceptance as wide as Levis… but while Levis offers both low price/low quality and high price/high quality, my goal is to be at a lower retail price than Levi’s, and never lower quality (or sell hideously washed styles). As for my target retailer, I’m aiming for better stores I can partner with to deliver their customers a product that will have them excited about the next shipment.
DT: What would be your dream collaboration? Any plans of that in the future?
MM: I would be happy collaborating with Opening Ceremony, Barney’s and Lane Crawford in my first year, along with a few other select retailers. I showed Opening Ceremony the collection recently and they loved it. I have an in with Lane Crawford that’s panning out too—fingers crossed.
All in due time—right now I’m all over the place doing everything single handedly. One week I’m building the website, one week I’m designing, one week it’s all about production… then there’s my blog, the freelance design I do, production for other brands… I don’t have time to waste, so I have to plan carefully. Basically, the coming weeks are all about promoting and pitching. And besides pitching a story to CNN recently, you’re my first real interview, so when the brand becomes a hit, you can claim breaking the story!
DT: Street style and style blogs are huge in the industry right now as a source of inspiration, influencing the high-end labels rather than vice versa. How much does street style influence your designing?
MM: To me, small blogs have the big impact as opposed to big corporate media outlets. It’s the difference between the shopping experience of department store and a small shop where the owner is greeting you from behind the register. Blogs are a bigger part of my marketing plan then my designing inspiration. My goal is to have personal relationships with a thousand blogs around the world.
DT: How do you see your jeans being styled?
MM: Clean, mature and tasteful. It’s not a loud, youthful or trendy brand.
DT: Can you give us hint about what’s next?
MM: Well, you know you’re doing something right when investors start calling you before your product has even shipped. I’ll be expanding to a full collection for Fall 2012. I’ve been asked by one of my factory partners to open retail stores next year with their backing (which I am seriously considering). I’ve been rejecting wholesale operation backing as it would destroy the entire formula.
Above all, I can tell you I won’t be in the business of chasing profits. I believe if you make a good product, offer good customer service and work smart, profits will success will happen.
Check out the men’s and women’s styles from the line below:
Huge thanks to Maurice for this insightful Q&A—be sure to check out Williamsburg Garment Co. online, on facebook, and on Twitter.
—Michelle Christina Larsen
Tags: denim for less than $100, denim under $100, factory direct price, maurice malone, Opening Ceremony, Steve Jobs, williamsburg garment co
Across the deliciously broad spectrum of potential jean wear-ables available right now, a few pieces stand out as gems the denim-hungry shopper should pause to ponder. Some have just hit the shelves and some are recycled looks from spring (which, with the right styling, carry over seamlessly), but the common thread is evident: Intense style with a dash of playful intrigue. Mix and match our picks below with your filmy tees, cable knit sweaters, and brown leather boots for fall.
1. Double-pocket denim collar shirts are the most happening item on the market right now, appearing in variations at every price point! This versatile top will work into any ensemble. Pixie Market Denim Top ($93) – buy it at Pixie Market.
2. It’s no secret that we love Siwy–their chic, incredible fit comes with a complimentary dose of street-smart sex appeal. Try these poly-elastic blend bottoms with a high-rise back. Siwy Jeans Rose Velour in Linger ($195) – buy it at REVOLVEclothing.
3. Princess seams add attractive contour to this denim pencil skirt, while an edgy wash and zip-front are good for class all day and the dance floor afterward. MY LOVELY JEAN Denim skirt ($168) – buy it at YOOX.
4. Here’s an adorable soft-pleated skirt that won’t be a major investment. The big roomy pockets and flouncy bow-tie in the front are too sweet to pass up. Life In Progress Denim Swing Skirt ($23) – buy it at Forever21.
5. This cut-out argyle top has plenty of negative space opportunity for layers with pop colors or lace blouses. Pieced Argyle Boatneck ($170) – buy it at Opening Ceremony.
6. Still a favorite on the scene, the boyfriend jean looks super-cute paired with heels, Keds, and lace-up wedges alike. Mix up boyish appeal with your lady charms! DEBI Boyfriend Jeans ($180) – buy it at DIESEL.
7. Some of us may be window shopping on this one, but it’s no sin to be inspired by the higher end options out there! This gorgeous utilitarian denim jacket is a classic in essence, and you’ll look as fierce as an aviator without having to lift a finger. Alexander McQueen Strong-shouldered denim jacket ($1,785) – buy it at Net-A-Porter.
8. Art school darlings, Jackson Pollock fans, and any who wish to turn heads, there’s no better way to do it than a pair of high contrast jeans with an intense print like this. Proenza Schouler High Waist Painted Jeans ($550) – buy it at Opening Ceremony.
9. No sense stopping with basic woven silhouettes—this unexpectedly sexy denim brassiere is structured, stylish, and just one click away. We love the contrast black band around the hem, too. Dungaree Denim Bra ($44) – buy it at TOPSHOP.
Gents… stay tuned for the mens’ edition!
—Michelle Christina Larsen
Tags: Alexander McQueen, denim trends, Diesel, fall 2010, Opening Ceremony, Pixie Market, Proenza Schouler, shopping guide, Siwy
Available now is the Opening Ceremony par Robert Clergerie collection of Amor Lace-up Platforms. The cult specialty store’s collaboration with the iconic French shoe designer resurrects Clergerie’s classic aesthetics that the designer is best known for, a feminine oxford with a masculine undercurrent.
France has been heavy on our minds as of late. We??™ve turned to the country as the next to add to our international roster of designers, and it??™s also as the home base for our latest collaboration with revered footwear designer, ROBERT CLERGERIE. Many aspects of Clergerie??™s rich heritage made us ecstatic to work with the brand. We were inspired by Clergerie??™s innovative spirit, which, among other things, made him the first designer to produce a women??™s shoe on a men??™s last – creating a traditional flat lace-up oxford for women. Opening Ceremony worked with Robert Clergerie to create a rope-sole platform oxford in fabrics featured in the SPRING/SUMMER 2010 OPENING CEREMONY COLLECTION. Polka dot linen (in oatmeal and navy), indigo linen, and a custom FLORAL WATERCOLOR-PRINTED denim all made the cut.
After working under iconic footwear designer Charles Jourdan, Robert Clergerie expanded on his own and purchased the famed Joseph Fenestrier shoe factory in the French footwear capital of Romans, France. Built in 1895, his factory is an integral part of shoemaking in France ??“ and we couldn??™t wait to see it for ourselves. Check out the OPENING CEREMONY PAR ROBERT CLERGERIE Spring 2010 collection, and some photos from our trip from Paris to Romans to visit Robert and his epic headquarters! (Opening Ceremony)
At the height of Clergerie’s career, which was in the late 80’s and early 90’s (when I was just a VERY young fashionista), I remember it was a must-have to own a pair of Robert Clergerie shoes, which, of course, I did and still do. After coming out of retirement and buying back his namesake company in 2005, Clergerie now continues to produce fresh and innovative footwear that Robert Clergerie fans, including myself, still covet.
Opening Ceremony Robert Clergerie Amor Lace-up Platforms, $460.00
Shop Opening Ceremony
–Nikki Cho Russo
Tags: Opening Ceremony, Robert Clergerie
A marketing image for the collection. Photo By Courtesy Photo
Carol Lim and Humberto Leon continue to expand their vast collaborations for their global retail store, Opening Ceremony. This time, Opening Ceremony has partnered up with the deep rooted American heritage brand, Levi’s, to create a co-branded line of men’s and women’s products that will hit stores next month. The capsule range will be sold at Opening Ceremony stores, levi.com, the Levi’s flagship in San Francisco and a group of exclusive wholesale accounts globally.
Both companies have been involved in a multitude of collaborations. Levi’s has partnered with Robert Geller, Shepard Fairey and Damien Hirst. Opening Ceremony has collaborated with Robert Clergerie, Pendleton and Chlo?« Sevigny, to name a few.
???Over the last few years, Opening Ceremony has consistently created and celebrated the freshest and most exciting stories in fashion,??? said Joshua Katz, head of collaborations, partnerships and creative concepts at Levi??™s. ???Our collaboration was really built around a shared desire to celebrate our history, not just by revising it, but rather by reinterpreting it in new and interesting ways.???
The collaboration is planned as an ongoing, multiseason project, said Katz.
The spring Levi??™s + Opening Ceremony collection is focused on corduroy. It includes unisex pants and shorts in a fine-wale fabrication, a corduroy shirt and jean jackets in corduroy and denim styles. The jackets are available in men??™s and women??™s fits. Each corduroy style comes in eight colors: fuchsia, teal, lavender, beige, curry, olive, navy or white.
The pants will retail for $148; the shorts for $106; jackets for $178, and the shirt for $128.
The collection will launch during New York Fashion Week at Opening Ceremony stores in New York, Los Angeles and Tokyo, as well as the boutique set to bow in the Ace Hotel in New York next month. The Levi??™s store in New York??™s Union Square will devote its first floor to Opening Ceremony product for several weeks beginning Feb. 19. (Source: WWD)
Denim Therapy will keep you posted for more images on the products.
–Nikki Cho Russo
Tags: Levi's, Opening Ceremony, WWD