By Elena Romero, Daily News Record
Maurice Malone is designing for himself these days. "I've gotten older," says the 37-year-old from his showroom in Brooklyn. "I don't dress baggy anymore, and now I wear my clothes true to size."
Malone, who made his mark in the early '90s with his MoJeans line and later branched into the tailored market, is ready to return to men's wear with a better jeans line called Maurice Malone, which will premiere at The Collective. "Streetwear wasn't challenging for me, and I wanted to go back to designing for the better market while phasing out of what I had been best known for," he says.
On Sunday, the opening day of The Collective, Malone will host a fashion show at Bowery Bar to preview his new designs. It's his way of formally reintroducing himself to men's wear - and to prospective retailers. Malone describes the show as "Run DMC meets an Italian tailor, influenced by uptown Saturday night in a Texas bar."
Confused? He elaborates: "It's old-school hip-hop, sharply tailored, flamboyantly twisted looks recolorized to appear in your local bar." (If that doesn't clear things up, you'll just have to see it for yourself.)
Over the past year, Malone has experienced his fair share of challenges and growing pains. Rumors began circulating in the market early last year that Malone was going out of business. In May of 2001, Malone severed his relationship with Simon Sales, the backer of his now-defunct MoJeans streetwear brand, citing irreconcilable differences.
Because of contractual obligations, Malone is unable to work on the MoJeans brand until holiday 'o2. He plans to reintroduce MoJeans via licensing in the near future, but it "will be a separate brand without my name attached to it," he notes. "It will be a strictly urban customer base, and it will have its own focus and direction. I want to be able to borrow some of the things I introduce within Maurice Malone and water them down for Mojeans."
On the bright side, the business breakup allowed the designer to focus on his women's line, also called Maurice Malone, which has performed well with such accounts as Atrium, Big Drop, Vlada, Zabri, Patricia Fields, Eva, and Plum, all in New York.
The success gave Malone the confidence to launch the brand's male counterpart. "Even though I've been known primarily for men's wear most of my career, the new men's collection will be patterned after the women's line," he says. "We are extremely involved with the New York club scene and very focused on our target customers, who in the women's market are mainly young, stylish, on-the-go, slim, 18- to 30-year-olds."
His men's collection, targeted to a very similar demographic, will consist of 13 styles, from 11 1/2 to 14 1/2 ounces, in a number of silhouettes, including a low-waisted, slightly flared jean to a relaxed-fitting denim. The collection includes a "tuxedo jean" in denim; the "scratch jean" (a basic five-pocket with elaborate stitching); an "off-the-wall jean" with a brick-like stitching across the leg; and three "country" styles that come in light, dirty and basic models. Basic denim jackets will also be offered, as well as 3/4-length denim blazers. A few T-shirts and sporty Italian-made dress shirts will be added to round out the assortment.
"While our competitors are known for their basic jean with elaborate washes, we're more about the details," says Malone, who cites possible competitors as Seven, Paper Denim & Cloth, and Diesel. "When I design, it's all about the details and the quality – then I pick the wash."
Retail price points will range from $108 to $220 for denim pants; $99 to $240 for denim jackets; $90 to $120 for dress shirts; and $32 to $45 for T-shirts.
"Doing collection jeans has let me unlock my imagination," he says. "Freed from the constraints of price points and affordability, I am able to create art."