An eye for fashion and a nod to family: designer’s new collection honors CLE's garment history

The year 1996 had a profound impact on fashion clothing designer William McNicol. He was nine years old and designer basketball shoes were the hot item. That year, the Air Griffey Max 1, Nike Air Penny 2, Reebok Question, Air Jordan 12, and Nike Air More Uptempo all were released, and McNicol, who already showed an interested in design, knew what he wanted to do with his life.

“[It] inspired me to not only begin sketching sneakers and clothes, but also helped me realize the importance of developing a personal style,” McNicol recalls.

William McNicol of William Frederick DesignsToday, McNicol, 33, is a successful clothing designer and founder of William Frederick, creating designs out of his Cleveland Heights home. Last weekend, he launched his latest collection, F20W2 (Fall20Winter21), which features 24 unisex pieces that are designed to be rooted in casual elegance and sophisticated ease—while expressing one’s own style.

My goal is to create wardrobe essentials and staples that live in people's closets for years and then are passed down to future generations,” he says. “When an article of clothing is worn for years, it becomes part of your story.”

And, staying true to Cleveland’s historical place in the fashion and textile industries, McNicol manufactures all his clothing in Cleveland.

Growing up in the small industrial town of Wellsville, Ohio, McNicol also knew how every sale counted in the world around him. “Growing up in a small community in the 90s, most of the town was driven by mom-and-pop shops,” he says. “And growing up in an industrial town, my focus has always been on local industry and manufacturing.”

McNicol went on to graduate from Baldwin Wallace University with a degree in management and finance and works as a medical underwriter for New York Life when he’s not designing.

William Frederick designs collectionCombine all those experiences, and you’ll understand William Frederick—a unisex clothing brand designed to be timeless, functional clothing that lasts for decades.

In fact, William Frederick was McNicol’s grandfather’s name, and McNicol says his designs pay homage to the clothing his grandfather wore—A daily uniform of creased dress pants with a standard dress shirt, and a limited color palette of mostly white, cream, grey, navy, and black.

“His wardrobe was very uniform and intentional—two sartorial traits that I incorporate into my work,” McNicol explains. “As a child, he was the most significant influence I had. Without him, I would not have my wit, humor, work ethic, style, or calm demeanor.”

He adds that he still possesses his grandfather’s blue knit cardigan and Seiko watch, and plans to one day pass down his own significant clothing to his little brother, Antonio DeJesus.

Read more articles by Karin Connelly Rice.

Karin Connelly Rice enjoys telling people's stories, whether it's a promising startup or a life's passion. Over the past 20 years she has reported on the local business community for publications such as Inside Business and Cleveland Magazine. She was editor of the Rocky River/Lakewood edition of In the Neighborhood and was a reporter and photographer for the Amherst News-Times. At Fresh Water she enjoys telling the stories of Clevelanders who are shaping and embracing the business and research climate in Cleveland.