For Bronx-bred designer, Jevaughn Williams—better known as Mugzy McFly—walking through the doors of his fashion studio nestled in the heart of the borough is a full-circle moment. The neighborhood noises of the MTA trains passing by and the faces of longtime residents conjure up a sense of nostalgia, a reminder of how the Bronx has instrumentally shaped him into the creative he is today.
The Wakefield space—which intertwines art, fashion, and culture—tells an evolutionary story about his past, present and future; it sits on a street where he hung out as a youngster, it harbors garments that are products of his creative expression, and it serves as a source of inspiration for him to push the envelope in the industry and use fashion as an avenue to cultivate community.
Growing up in the northern section of the Bronx, Williams was surrounded by examples of entrepreneurship. The mom-and-pop stores—many of which still exist today despite the wrath of gentrification throughout New York City—were embedded in the fabric of his neighborhood and contributed to the aura of hustle that flowed throughout the Bronx streets. For Williams, his interest in fashion stemmed from a love of basketball.
“I always liked fashion, but it really started with sneakers and basketball,” he told NewsOne. “One of the things that a basketball player had aside from his jersey that drew attention was his sneakers.” While modeling for local independent brands, he witnessed first-hand the ins and outs of developing a fashion company from the ground up. Nearly a decade ago, he launched his own brand dubbed Signed by McFly. The self-funded budding entrepreneur—who didn’t have a formal education in fashion—let his creativity lead him.
With every stitch, Williams pulled inspiration from elements that influenced his path, whether it was his Jamaican roots, artistic visionaries like Basquiat, creatives like Kanye West, his global travels, or the borough he calls home.
“The Bronx exudes creativity,” he shared. “The fashion, culture and heritage that exist within the Bronx all seep into every crevice of the creative mind.” The items in his athleisure collection—which have been seen on the likes of Young Thug, Post Malone and Doja Cat—include an array of hoodies, tracksuits, t-shirts, pins, scarfs, hats and one of his proudest creations: footwear.
For Williams, it’s bigger than clothes. He has continually tapped into the power of fashion to uplift his community. Five years ago, he launched an annual Bronx-based pop-up shop to amplify the work of Black entrepreneurs and celebrate their businesses.
“I already had a pool of creatives that people may not know about, so I thought why not extend the pop-up shop,” said Williams. “It was natural to do, and it felt like the right way to go. I could do these events downtown, but I’d rather it be true to home. I wanted to make it easier for the community to touch base.” The next pop-up shop is slated to take place on Nov. 28.
When it comes to representation in the realm of fashion or the lack thereof, the designer—who will make his NYFW debut next February—says thriving in the space starts with ownership and being unapologetic about your art.
“Don’t close the door behind you; leave the door open for others to come in,” he said. “I do my own show every October in the Bronx, and I feature my work and the work of four or five other designers. We need to have that more often. If someone can’t open the door for us, we just have to build our own building.”
Williams, who has a slew of fashion-related projects on the horizon, says the lack of mentorship he had along his journey has compelled him to empower others who have come from similar circumstances.
“I just want anyone who aspires to do this to know that I’m open to helping,” said Williams. “I’ve never had a person that I could look to on this journey. I want to be the guy that I needed.”