Marquis McNeil doesn’t believe in simple fashion style. When he shops, it’s all about the boldness, the colors and the original qualities of a piece.
McNeil doesn’t worry about shopping for the “standout” pieces that make his personal style unique because he can always design the clothes himself.
The Temple University junior knows what he likes, and others have taken notice. McNeil is the designer for MynORity, a unique line of what he calls “standout” urban style.
McNeil, a marketing major, created MynORity to fill a void he saw in the shoe and clothing industry. People aren’t offered enough choices to mix and match, he said.
“Guys’ shoes usually have one shirt [distributed by the maker] to match the shoe,” McNeil said. “But if everybody buys that shirt, then everyone’s going to be wearing that same shirt.”
Putting his talent to fabric, McNeil started to hand make shirts for himself and friends during his freshman year at Hampton University in Virginia.
“I was making something for someone that nobody else had,” McNeil said.
That is the basis of MynORity. Being a “MynORity” is about distinction and breaking the norms of style by wearing eye-catching pieces. McNeil bought the copyrights to his brand last summer, and now has two stores distributing his pieces, Unica on South Street in Philadelphia and Water Tower in downtown Chicago.
He started out just designing men’s shirts and polos, but his brand now offers apparel for both genders. The line dresses people from head to toe with tops, denim, skirts and shoes. For the ladies, McNeil makes jewelry, handbags and belts.
With his brand now available for mass distribution in two stores, McNeil is unable to make each piece by hand. Instead he relies on silk-screening, a process of quickly transferring design to shirts. A contact at a fellow Philly clothing brand, Miskeen, taught McNeil the process last summer.
McNeil strives not to let his success go to his head, staying grounded thanks to his inspirational roots. McNeil was born in Harlem, N.Y., but later moved to Portland, Ore. with his father.
“Most people don’t know that the reason I capitalize the ‘OR’ in MynORity is because it stands for Oregon, where I grew up,” he said.
McNeil’s father has always been supportive of his ambitions. “He owns two of his own businesses, and he’s served as a mentor to me,” McNeil said.
As a child McNeil loved drawing and painting, especially abstract things with fusions of colors and objects.
“When I was younger, it was art that kept me occupied and kept me away from places I shouldn’t be,” he said.
McNeil finds inspiration in design from abstract artists like Picasso and graffiti artists in Portland, as seen in the loud colors and bold shapes of his pieces.
“The abstract is about things that don’t make sense. They stand out,” he said of the essence of MynORity apparel. “I want my customers to feel like they are the best of the best, that’s why they stand out. I want them to think of themselves as royalty,” he said.
MynORity has dressed high profile clients like the music director of Destiny’s Child, Jay-Z, music video director Benny Boom, NBA player Sebastian Telfair, Roc-A-Fella Records rapper Peedi Crakk and one of Kanye West’s opening acts, rapper Reason.
With big names sporting his pieces, McNeil hopes to gain more recognition with three upcoming fashion shows this year.
He will compete in a fashion show against other designers, including some from Drexel, at the Student Center Nov. 5. On Nov. 11, McNeil will display his kicks in a sneaker show in the newly built Student Center Annex. He will also have a fashion show at the Philadelphia Convention Center in December.
McNeil may have taken the fast track to success, but he said, “I’ve got to stay humble. I don’t care about the money. While it may be nice, that’s not why I’m doing it.”
Working hard to keep his pieces in stock, he still does custom work for those who want personalized items, so stop by the front desk of the Temple Student Government office on the second floor of the Student Center, where McNeil continues to work.
“I am going to make MynORity a household name,” he said.
Kaitlyn Dreyling can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.