Things II Come is an up-and-coming luxury footwear brand that consists of equal parts talent, tenacity and New York flavor. Founder and creative director Sherwayne Mahoney is the unyielding force behind the brand and whose exhaustive passion for design lends itself to the craftsmanship of his products.
Born and raised in the Bronx, Mahoney took fashion illustration in high school where he was encouraged by a teacher to enroll at the Parsons school of design to further his studies. There, the designer went the route of luxury goods, studying evening wear and dress design at Parsons before moving on to F.I.T. to gain a business edge on the fashion industry.
After his schooling, Mahoney went on to hold positions at Bandolino, Nine West Group and Easy Spirit before deciding he had learned all that he needed in order to launch a business of his own.
Now, Mahoney's Things II Come produces luxury, 100% certified, Italian-made women's footwear and accessories. Mahoney recently launched a 10-piece collection of women's shoes that are just as appropriate in the office as they are for a night out.
We recently sat down with Mahoney to talk about his luxury footwear, the power of family and his hopes for the future of the brand.
AS: Your family seems to have played a huge part in the Things II Come story. Could you talk about the influence family has had on you?
SM: My father started out as a craftsman of leather goods. Then when he came to this country from Jamaica, he studied accounting and set about getting his masters. While he was doing that, he would also craft leather goods -- picture frames from leather, and leather wallets -- and he would even engrave people's names on them.
He was always about working hard at what you do, loving what you do and making sure that whatever it is you do, there's going to be security there, because you have to provide for your family.
My mother was a playwright. She used to be a model and had actually modeled for Calvin Klein very early on. So that creativity was there also.
All of my family supports me. And it's a great thing, because I come from a family of entrepreneurs.
AS: You went to Parsons and then to FIT to study fashion design. What was your creative journey like?
SM: I went to Parsons right after high school. I had a teacher in high school who encouraged me to attend Parsons. I had wanted to be an animator for Disney, so if it hadn't been for my teacher pushing me to go to college for fashion, I probably would be working for Disney.
I went to Parsons to study fashion apparel. My primary focus was evening wear and dresses, and it was great because they really focus on creativity. But I felt that F.I.T. offered a combination of both business and design.
When I was at F.I.T., everyone was trying to get into dresses. I felt that if I came out as another dress maker, no one was going to notice me. So I thought, "What is the best thing to get noticed for that people will actually buy?" Accessories. So that's when I started out with scarves because they're affordable to make, women buy them and it's a low cost to produce.
AS: Let's talk about the shoes from the Italian Collection. Can you tell me about the different styles and what the inspiration was behind them?
SM: So for Things II Come, being true to the brand and a way to impress the kind of client I was going after, I wanted to create a shoe that was sophisticated and elegant but was also a shoe that represented a woman who desires to be more, no matter who she is.
Things II Come is about detail, great quality, quality fabric, creativity, comfort. I know that when women wear high heels, sometimes they can only wear them for a few hours or so. So for our shoes, I wanted to make sure that there was a lot of cushion, because you want to be able to stand and look good in your shoes for as long as possible.
I had one client who told me, "Sherwayne. Your shoes are for a leader." I love it when the shoes can speak for themselves. I think that with all Things II Come products, the items should speak for themselves. My job is to push it forward and to encourage the brand as it develops.
When I'm designing, I want to make sure to fit women who are of all ages. I remember when I was designing the shoe, I had a couple of my mother's friends say, "You can't forget about the women who can't wear high heels!" So I had to make sure that I designed shoes that a working woman could wear out all day.
I think the illusion of the past was that the sexiest shoe or the most elegant shoe had to be a high heel. I disagree. you can have the same elegance and sexiness in a shoe with low heels and flats. It's all about how you design it and who your client is.
AS: Who are other designers or creatives that inspire you in the industry?
SM: I grew up in the Bronx, so Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren immediately come to mind. They're from the Bronx. Ralph Lauren actually grew up not too far away from me. So I figured that if Ralph Lauren could do it, why not me?
Again, I understand that patience is the key, but I can get to that point. You've got to think positive. I want to follow in those footsteps but to create my own story.
AS: What are some things we can expect from "Things II Come" in the future?
SM: I've been speaking with a couple [of] companies ... very interested in the shoes, so what we're planning on doing is to make a new line, a more affordable line for them. We're going to be showing it to them this February. So that is the next thing, to have an affordable line of shoes for them to carry.
Also, we're looking for investment partners now to start coming up with a first concept for a store. My idea is to open a store within a resort. Resorts offer a lot of foot traffic and from all over the world. I think it would be a good testing ground for a "Things II Come" store.
Eventually, what I would love to do is bring manufacturing back to America. I would love to bring it back to the Bronx. To me, if we had a manufacturing plan, we could provide people with jobs. And to bring that to a place like the Bronx, that would be amazing. That's a dream of mine, to bring manufacturing back to America somehow.
When you buy a product, it's important to think about how that product can support so many things and impact families. I think to bring manufacturing to the boroughs, it can do so much for the people.
AS: What do you want your brand's legacy to be?
SM: Honestly, I just want to have a brand that someone can look at and say, "That is a luxury brand!" You don't hear those kinds of stories coming out of the Bronx too often. Especially from minorities, you don't hear that. I want people to be able to look at the brand as an inspiration. I also want to leave a legacy for my kids someday. I also want to provide work for people who actually need it. That's my thing too, I want to be able to make the brand big enough where it can do that. So not only delivering a quality product but providing for the community and having it help in whatever way it can.