'I wanted to be different' Colorful: Vernon McFadden put his tailor training and lively taste to work, opening his own clothing store; Fashion


Vernon McFadden has always loved clothes. Not just to wear, but to create. Trained as a tailor at Carver Vo-Tech Senior High, McFadden, now 40, used to make all of his own clothing. "I wanted to be different," he says. "I didn't want to look like somebody off the rack."

As a work-study student, he also did alterations at Pop Kelley's, a men's clothing store on Pennsylvania Avenue. And when he wasn't sewing, McFadden was singing in a rhythm and blues band called 21st Century. But these days, McFadden has his hands full with Vernon's Menswear, his own clothing store in Security Square Mall, where anyone searching for an orange sports jacket and the shoes to match will not be disappointed.

How would you describe your style?

My look is fast. Men are so much into black, blue and brown. I think that is so boring. My store is colorful. I have a bright orange jacket in the window with matching shoes and I have sold so many.

What is the look that's leaving your store?

Long pants, with a three-quarter jacket, in peach, light blue, yellow or pink. I have no pink left at all.

Are these professional clothes?

Actually, a lot of guys are going to clubs, and I had such a tremendous prom season. The men are wearing Versace knockoff shirts in flamboyant colors. And they come for the derbies, like Puff Daddy wears and the Godfather hats. I've sold so many of those hats, it's unbelievable. The generation now, coming up, they don't want to look anything like their parents.

But there's a certain retro look to these suits.

They remind you of the old zoot suits. I actually had a couple of older guys walk by my door and say, "I had that suit in my 20s."

Do you wear these new zoot suits?

Matter of fact, I had to get one for myself in pinstripe. It's so gorgeous. I had to get me a hat to match it. And I wear it with a long-collared shirt. All that Superfly stuff is coming back. That's the same kind of shirt that was out when I was in high school.

Do you sell any ties?

I have sold ties to a couple of preachers, who will wear these suits to church.

Why don't you sew your own clothes anymore?

Being at that sewing machine constantly, it gets very tiring. Everyone wants you to make something for them! When I was younger, I had a whole basement of materials and I just sewed all the time. I just got tired of it.

How do you find wild shoes to match wild suits?

In New York and LA, I search and search. I won't buy the jacket unless I can find something to match it. It's not easy sometimes, but it's out there.

If you went to a club tonight, what would you wear?

I would definitely do the orange jacket with orange shoes. I want to stand out.

Would you dance?

I just like to listen to live music. I really like sitting and listening than trying to work up a sweat.

What's the next hot thing?

You never know. You've got to wait and see and feel it.

Do you have musician clients?

I get a lot of the older guys, say a keyboardist who sits during a concert and still wants a little flash. I do a lot of groups now, the Soft Tones and a new group called Bad.

Do you know any snappy dressers? Let us know. Write to Stephanie Shapiro, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278.

Pub Date: 6/18/98

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