Bronx designer’s journey into Macy’s flagship store advances 30-year fashion career

Macys 34th Street Display
Sherwayne Mahoney organizes his affordable, luxury shoe collection, Things II Come, at Macy’s on 34th Street in Manhattan. Mahoney began operations in the store in August 2022.
Photo courtesy Sherwayne Mahoney

In March 2020, the world stopped. As COVID-19 cases increased around the globe, schools pivoted to virtual learning, businesses closed, some even indefinitely, and people began to wonder what the future would hold. Life seemed to pause, and so did the fashion dreams of Sherwayne Mahoney. 

Beginning his fashion career in 1995, Mahoney’s interest first blossomed in a fashion elective course at Kennedy High School near the Spuyten Duyvil section of the Bronx. Finishing a final project course, he developed a brand, Things II Come, along with 26 pieces ranging from swimsuits to long, uniquely cut dresses.

“Could I run with this?” Mahoney, 45, said as he recalled the high school project. “I didn’t know it was going to end up like this.”

This idea soon became a way of living for Mahoney. With little representation of Black fashion designers growing up, he yearned to change the industry. In the U.S., only 17% of all fashion designers are male and less than 7% are Black, according to DataUSA.

“I love the fact that a little kid growing up can finally say that they can put a black face to a fashion brand,” he said. 

Starting in 1995 and continuing for a decade, he sold dresses and scarves door to door. He remembered even heading out to the Hamptons and traveling as far as Virginia talking to potential clients and buyers. Eventually, his business expanded to crafting bold jewelry pieces and sofa pillows. However, his work experience and higher education would change the trajectory of his career. 

For this Bronx-born resident, his next step seemed to be apparent — learn the business and fashion components of the industry. Eventually, Mahoney would attend Parsons School of Design and the Fashion Institute of Technology, absorbing all the knowledge he hoped for. In addition to his studies, he began working in the fashion space. From working at retail stores to obtaining internships at companies like Tommy Hilfiger, he was determined to mark his place in the industry.

One specific opportunity with Nine West Holdings Inc. would open his eyes to an industry that seemed unimaginable —  female footwear. “Wait a minute — I didn’t know anything about shoes,” he said. “I’m a dude.”

From high heels to women’s boots, Mahoney expanded his knowledge quickly.

Bronx born designer Sherwayne Mahoney, 45, is the creator and founder of Things II Come.

He said the experience became the catalyst for his future venture, an affordable luxury footwear brand, still entitled Things II Come. Starting as a sample coordinator for Easy Spirit footwear brand, formerly with Nine West, he slowly moved up the ranks to a sample manager, collaborating and talking with designers. Soon, Mahoney accepted a promotion to product development manager at Nine West. Immediately, he began working with a team of designers assembling shoes and collections, selecting fabric and colors and determining the sales of the shoes. 

“It was an epiphany,” he said. “I’m watching the designer sketch shoes — I’m like ‘I can do this.’ I have to train myself to sketch shoes instead of dresses now.”

Creativity has always been a part of Mahoney’s life. Raised in a Jamaican household in the West Bronx, he assumed pressures of becoming a nurse, electrician or something of that nature would be mounted on him as he witnessed similar pushes within the Jamaican culture.  That wasn’t the case though, as he continued a long line of family history of designing and entrepreneurship, including his grandmother who was a seamstress and designer.

He also reminisced about his father creating leather wallets and belts. And his father’s influence reached even further as Mahoney witnessed him dress in suits every day. Soon this became the norm for Mahoney, creating a unique style every day in high school. Plus, as a kid creating designs in another medium, specifically comic book characters and illustrations, helped him jump into sketching fashion designs quickly. 

Looking for a chance to explore fashion outside of New York when his business dreams was halted during the COVID-19 pandemic, Mahoney traveled to the West Coast accepting a new job in August 2020. However, in the back of his mind remained his passion for his creation, Things II Come.

“My dreams, the business that I have is on pause,” he said. “But at the end of the day, I’m not getting any younger.”

Two months after his move to Seattle, Mahoney scrolled through various news sites, and one story changed his life. He noticed Macy’s plans to join a pledge to allocate 15% more space to Black-owned brands, in a movement for racial equity in the retail world.

Sherwayne Mahoney’s luxury affordable shoe company, Things II Come, sit on display at a Macy’s store. His company and start in fashion began in 1995. Photo courtesy Sherwayne Mahoney’

After unsuccessful attempts to enter the retail space, he believed that the timing was finally right. Still having contact with the buyers at Macy’s, he sent an email to a top representative showcasing his brand.

“It was like shooting a three-pointer in the dark,” he said jokingly. “The worst thing that could happen is she not answer the email.”

The same day — a response. His business was exactly what they were looking for.

“I remember jumping all over the apartment,” he said. “You think of everything you’ve been through to get to this moment. I remember losing relationships because I was more focused on designs.”

Over the next two years, Mahoney, along with his buyer, developed new designs, colors and styles for his affordable luxury footwear brand. But another obstacle would appear once the supply chain crisis happened in 2021. As a consequence of the pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, global supply chains and shipments slowed, causing worldwide shortages. However, despite the rescheduling, Mahoney’s designs soon hit the sales floor at Macy’s on 34th Street in Manhattan in August 2022. 

“A dude from the Bronx is in Macy’s 34th Street,” he said as he recalled his first reaction to seeing his designs in stores. “A black man is in Macy’s.”

As customers take in Things II Come’s line of leather and suede shoes paired with bold colors and velvet, along with the trademark hint of gold found in every shoe, Mahoney just can’t stop imagining what his late father would be thinking. He recalled a saying his father recited, “if you think you can make a life from it — do the best you can, to get to the top.”

“I’m glad I can make my father proud,“ he said. “I know if he was here, he would be super proud. He’d be telling all his family and all of his sisters.” 

Now, Mahoney begins his next journey creating a new line of shoes for this upcoming fall season. 

“It’s been an exciting journey so far,” he said. “Being a guy from the Bronx — we can do it if we put our mind to it and we are persistent.”

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