Fashion Money & Mayhem

90s Designer Maurice Malone pioneer in streetwear/hip hop fashion on the cover of Indigo New York Magazine 1996
By Xavier Nurse. Photography by Tar

It's a Friday night and I'm meeting up with some of my partners. I just got paid, pockets are right. Later on, we're all going out, so want some new hang-out gear, but quite frankly I'm a little tired of that Guess patch and everybody’s rocking that Kani tag. At this point, I'm searching for answers so I let my dilemma be known. One of my partners shows me some old new shit that he’s sporting. "Yo!, fuck that other shit, you need to get up on this new shit here,” he says, as he raises his jacket to show the Maurice Malone logo and trademark.

Dreddy Kruger of Wu-Tang fame models Maurice Malone 90s baggy hip hop jeans

“Them shit’s are ‘banging’ son. Where'd you get them from,” I replied? That was my first contact with Maurice Malone Designs.

I really got up on MMD two years ago while putting together our Newsletter. The fashion editor who was totally ignorant ran his name by me. I immediately got excited. The image of his jeans and his advertisement was stuck in my mind. At this time he was in New York and working with Brooklyn Apparel.

This would be the last of Maurice’s bad decisions. Maurice agreed to enter into a profit-sharing contract with Brooklyn Apparel to be settled every three months. Unbeknownst to Maurice, Brooklyn Apparel filed bankruptcy in the attempt to get rid of a previous partner without telling Maurice.

After the signing, Brooklyn Apparel went to another company to make the clothes, since they had no money. Now Maurice was put off while the money Brooklyn Apparel made was used to pay the manufacturer.

When the time came for profit sharing, Maurice told that there was not much money actually made. He played it cool not wanting to make a big issue of it and allowed them to keep the money until profits came in.

By the next quarter, Maurice started hearing about the bankruptcy, and Brooklyn Apparel was in and out of the courthouse. Maurice was assured that he would not be affected by all of this. "This was a mistake that I'll never make again,” he says. "They told me later that I wouldn't be paid at all because the courts were taking over and all this and that.”

Brooklyn Apparel tried to keep Maurice doing business with them, but after his crash course in the pitfalls of the business, he left being owed $300,000, and as if that wasn't enough, he had to buy his name back from the court for $10,000.

After a $310,000 lesson, Maurice packed up everything and went back to Detroit. You would think that the problems with Brooklyn Apparel would be now over, but as it turns out the factories where his clothes were made (Korea and Hong Kong) now manufactured knock-offs of his designs. "They shipped about 20,000 to Japan, thinking I’m not gonna find out about it. That's another white-collar crime.”

1996 photo of hip hop fashion founding father Maurice Malone

Maurice also had a falling out with Strictly Sportswear and MVP Footwear of Detroit, but despite his bad relationships, Maurice has finally found a deal that is right for him. "I’ve got a deal with an investor where control my own company and all they do is pay for the financing of manufacturing. I pay my employees and they pay theirs,“ he says with a sign of comfort.

"You have to go through hell to control your own company. Not many people control their own company.” Maurice confesses that it is a very difficult road to success. "You have to suffer,” he says. “You have to give up a lot of your playtime, you give up a lot of your money.”

Maurice Malone AKA DJ Soul Fingers as he is known in Detroit has continued his progress by opening his own retail store, called The Hip Hop Shop. The store is equipped with a built-in DJ booth that allows different DJs to drop in on the weekends to mix records while people are shopping. He’s also using the store to give local Emcee’s a Chance to come down and show off their skills.

Maurice Malone became interested in fashion designing while living in Los Angeles and studying special effects for films. One day while at home watching videos with his younger cousin, he was intrigued by a band known as the Jo Boxers. Their Video "Just Got Lucky” displayed some funky hats that he just could not seem to find anywhere.

Later, after returning to Detroit, Maurice found an old sewing machine in his mother's basement, and after two weeks of trying he recreated those hats that he saw in that video. After that, he started making "Teach Shirts" These T-shirts brandished messages "Jesus was darker than me,” and “I’m tired of eating your pork and your lies."

Like most designers Maurice started our making designs for friends. "when I first started, I just started out making hats for a few friends. They would come over, play pool and buy hats,” says Maurice. "Then their friends saw them, the next thing know I was making $100 a week.”

90s hip hop fashion & streetwear pioneer designer Maurice Malone quote in Indigo NY Magazine 1996

MM has gained national recognition from BET's Teen Summit,” “Show Time At The Apollo," and HBO's "Def Comedy Jam.”

1996 promises to be a year of continued growth for MMD. With the introduction of an exciting new line of men’s underwear, creatively called, “DRIZZAWS FOR YOUR BIZZAWS,” Maurice intends on taking the idea of safe sex to another level. although his complete line has a unisex appeal, Maurice says he had men in mind specifically when he created the underwear. The patented designed boxers “COME EQUIPPED” with a handy little condom pocket so that consumers will always be prepared. Aware of the pitfalls sometimes experienced “in the heat of the moment.” Maurice says he created the Drizzaws “to help combat the spread of AIDS. The Drizzaws" combine fashion and function in a way that consumers will find fun and useful.

Maurice Malone’s uninhibited approach to design, proves, that he has never been afraid to take chances. Two of his signature pieces, the backpack overalls, and chain overalls are examples of his originality. The Maurice Malone name and trademarked slogan, “Blue jeans for your ass” can be spotted on trendy youth in the world. Combining his talent for design with an undying desire to be unique has kept Maurice Malone Designs one of the hottest and most anticipated sportswear on the streets. IND

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