by Stephen Garner
William McNicol

Since a young age, William McNicol has been obsessed with product design and quality. Starting around age 8 or 9, he began sketching his own clothing and footwear designs, which then evolved into customizing and painting his own items while in high school. After graduating with a management degree from a liberal arts college (Baldwin Wallace) and working in a corporate environment for years, McNicol found himself searching for a purpose and returned to his childhood love of design.

After spending two years developing his line, McNicol launched his first collection in 2018, at the age of 31. Called William Frederick, McNicol’s line of unisex clothing is designed, developed, and manufactured in Cleveland, Ohio – which also happens to be his hometown. “Having grown up in a small industrial town, my focus has always been on local industry and manufacturing,” McNicol tells MR. “By producing in our hometown, we are able to oversee the entire production process and establish trusting relationships with all factory workers. Not long ago, Cleveland was one of the world’s leading manufacturers of clothing, second only to New York in terms of production. Restoring this rich tradition and history of garment manufacturing is our primary objective.”

As for the name, it’s a nod to McNicol’s grandfather. “William Frederick was my grandfather’s name, and my designs pay homage to the clothing he wore,” he tells us. “His wardrobe was very uniform and intentional—two sartorial traits that I always incorporate into my work.”

The brand’s current collection includes a 24-piece mix of outerwear, shirting, trousers, and accessories. Priced between $95 and $725, the small-batch run has no more than 10 units per design with select pieces even limited exclusively to one per size.

Moving forward into 2021, McNicol is optimistic for the future because, as with a lot of brands, William Fredrick was hit hard by the pandemic in the first half of 2020. “With approximately 75 percent of our sales in 2019 coming from in-person studio appointments and events, we had to completely reassess our business model and move solely to e-commerce,” he says. Now, after a strong response to its most recent fall/winter collection, the brand has momentum heading into 2021. “I’m incredibly grateful that we are still here,” admits McNicol. “For now, existing is enough.”