Denim designer Maurice Malone, founder of Williamsburg Garment Company, will open the brand’s first store, located at 181 Havermeyer Street in Brooklyn, on Tuesday, August 9.
Malone is a 20-year-veteran of the business, having originally owned and operated the Detroit’s Hip-Hop Shop (which was featured in the film 8 Mile) from 1993-1997. “I moved to New York in 1995 and I thought I could keep the store going, but the guys I left in charge were more interested in starting running record labels than running the store,” he says. “But I am excited about opening this store, since it will mark a new chapter in the growth of the Williamsburg Garment Company brand.”
The 300-square shop will feature all of the brand’s men’s and women’s styles, although most inventory will be in the company’s nearby warehouse. Currently, the men’s denim comes in four core fits, although there are various denims (including selvedge), and there is also one work pant available. Prices range from $124-$189.
The brand launched in 2012, and was originally made in China until Malone relocated production to the U.S. in 2014. Since then, it has grown rapidly online and through a small network of national and global retailers, and is now valued at close to $4 million. The one catch: Malone does everything himself. “Up until now, updating the website and shipping the goods are the two things I spend most of my day doing,” he says.
Moreover, for the time being, WGC will remain a one-man-brand. “I am not hiring any sales help right away,” he says. “I want to do everything myself, so I can prove to everyone that it can be done,” he says. “But the advantage of working in the shop is once I do hire staff, I want to show them how I want things to be done. It’s all about building the foundation.” (The store will initially be open from 11 a.m-8 p.m. daily, with a closing break from 5 p.m. to 6. p.m., so he can pick up his daughter at school.
Sometime later this year, the store will also sell knit shirts, but that’s about it. “Of course, I’ve thought about it, but we’re not otherwise expanding the collection,” he says. “My designers always want to do more, and I am in constant battle with myself, but I remind everyone that I think it’s best to just focus on denim and be the best denim brand out there.”
As for retail, Malone says this may not be the last Williamsburg Garment Company shop. “There are many people who like the brand and I have talked to some of them about opening stores in other cities,” he says. “But I also know that staying small enables us to react fast and respond to consumers on a personal level. One thing I’ve learned is that you really gain loyalty when you back it up with a great product.”