Let's face it Sneaker Freakettes, finding design that perfectly represents the culture we all know and love made exclusively for women is slimmer than a Nicole Ritchie crash diet. Welcome to the world of Married To The Mob and its no-holds barred head honcho Leah McSweeney. On the eve of releasing her new collaboration with Nike, the high-end inspired Dunk Supreme, we managed to steal a few minutes from the hardest working lady in ‘The Biz’ and find out why thinking outside the (shoe) box has continually landed her in the number one spot!
Yo Leah, how was the summer for you? Has the label progressed to newer heights with the blitz on brands dropping this summer in the States?
What’s good Mafia! Summer was great; it was definitely a big turning point for MOB. We unveiled our first full collection at a couple tradeshows, which was also a first for MOB. Shit is good.
MTTM just keeps keepin’ on, and doesn’t look like it will be quitting anytime soon. Has there been a shift in demand for female streetwear over the last year? I ask because it seems to be booming in the States and Europe.
There is a huge demand for new female brands over here in the States. A lot of the bigger brands just aren’t what the kids want anymore. They want something new and refreshing. They want MOB!
Has your target audience changed now that you have moved into cut and sew, branching out from the standard logo tee or are you naturally moving with the demographic you first created back in 2004? Are MOBs growing up?
I’m not changing the target audience but I’m definitely widening it. I think some MOBs are definitely growing up but of course new young MOBs are always getting added to the mix. I think MOB has something for every dope girl that wants to look fresh.
With this in mind, was it a conscious move to collaborate on the more refined MTTM Dunk with Nike, somewhat juxtaposing on the playfulness of the Reebok x Colette Freestyle?
It’s just what I wanted to do. I know the Reeboks were really loud and I wanted to change it up a bit for the Dunk. I want to be able to show how much MOB and my designs can vary but at the same time still remain true to MOB.
You kept this baby under wraps for a long minute, but when did talks start with Nike to get the shoe rolling?
A very long time ago.
The MTTM Nike Dunk dips into a higher end fashion bracket with the subtle use of colour and superior materials we have not seen in the past. Is it a natural progression of being inspired by brands that have maintained a longevity in fashion rather than simply following a trend?
Actually I was totally inspired by my fave Chanel boots. I knew I wanted to recreate the same lux feel with the Dunk. The black patent on the toe of the sneaker represents the black patent toecap that is used on many Chanel shoes and the boucle fabric is another staple fabric. MOB girls love sneakers and tees but they also like high-end shit, so I really wanted to give them a sneaker that had that high-end feel. Mission accomplished. I love the turn out!
Was it difficult to source the materials to use for the Dunk in order to do justice?
That was all Jesse and his team. But I know it took a minute and a lot of back and forth with factories to get the boucle fabric perfect.
The great thing about this Dunk is that it was totally unexpected. Married To The Mob has been so ‘in yo face’ with past collections yet the Nike is incredibly subdued. As the head of a brand, how important is it for you drop product that excites, thinking outside the box yet still remaining fresh?
I think the Dunk is ‘in yo face’ so to speak but in a different way than maybe most people perceive MOB. But in terms of thinking outside the box and making shit that girls love, that is what it’s all about. Dropping dope product is what sets brands apart so it’s the most important thing for MOB.
The way your brand collaborates with other labels, you never compromise your integrity, which can’t be said for a lot of collaborations in the past. How do you determine who is going to represent Married To The Mob to the fullest and what are some of the key figures you work out before jumping into contracts?
Thank you Mafia! I appreciate that because I have really tried my best to keep the colabs to a minimum and keep them tight. When I work with other companies/brands/people, the most important thing is that I love what they do! I need to believe in it if the project is going to turn out a winner. Have a good lawyer for the contracts. That can always be tricky. Always remember to negotiate, never go for the first offer.
Where has the shift in the quality and more intricate designs for the collection arisen from? Would it have anything to do with you now being a hot mumma, or MILF as your girls like to call you?
Ah! My daughter is definitely the most influential person in my life. She pushes me everyday to be a better person. She definitely opened my eyes and made me hustle harder. When I learned I was pregnant something just changed and I knew I had to take MOB to the next level. And that’s what I did.
Last issue of Sneaker Freaker we ran a section titled ‘The Biz’ where we asked key figures in the industry to shed light on how they ventured into the roles they play in today’s footwear and streetwear industry. You were perhaps the first prominent female in the game. What advice can you spread to our Freakettes who maybe want to get into design and running a label?
How can they become Most Official Bitches? Then why wasn’t I featured in that issue bitch!? Just kidding. My advice would be to make sure you love doing it ‘cos it’s a hell of a lot of stress and if you don’t love it you’ll end up ditching it.
And finally before we go, the all-important question! When and where can we expect to see the MTTM Dunk hit the shelves? Will there be any extras with the shoe as far as packaging or apparel?
November 8th. Select accounts. That’s all I’m saying for now.
Images courtesy of MOB LIVING and Leah McSweeney.