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BW Alumnus Brings Fresh Focus to Fashion Week

It's lavish. Sometimes outrageous. Often boundary-breaking. And always intriguing and a global sensation. New York Fashion Week is the calling card for designers, buyers, celebrities, media and just about everyone trying to break into this mega-million-dollar industry.

photo of William McNicol and William Frederick logoAmid the flashing cameras, Insta-posts and trendy after-parties that vaunt the swank vibe of a New York state of mind comes a little Midwest - a designer whose quiet confidence is reflected in his collections that are a bit more understated, classic, on-point for comfort, stylish and modern.

BW alumnus William McNicol '09 has earned the coveted "one to watch" interest of the press, buyers and customers. The BW finance and management major, whose near-perfect GPA aptly reflects his focus on hard work, diligence and vision for success, is making his second appearance at New York Fashion Week, Feb. 11-16.

The impressive achievement takes on added appreciation - considering this started out as a side gig to his full-time job as a medical underwriter for New York Life Insurance Company. The Cleveland Heights, Ohio, resident balances both full-time roles, juggling daytime work responsibilities with long nights and weekends. His duo careers provide the perfect pairing of left-brain critical thinking and reasoning with right-brain creativity and intuitiveness.

Namesake Nod to an Ancestral William Frederick

photo of William Frederick studio shirtIf every designer has a story of passionate inspiration, then McNicol's begins in his hometown of Wellsville, Ohio, near the West Virginia border. He was the eight-year-old kid with a notebook whose dreams and sketches of clothing and footwear were the first glints of a career pathway.

Decades later, in August 2018, he produced the first collection for his clothing line William Frederick, a sentimental nod to a beloved grandfather whose wit, work ethic, style and calm demeanor are the legacy gifts paid forward to the amiable 34-year-old.

"My collections of outerwear, shirting, trousers and accessories are based on clothing attributes he valued - comfort, utility and durability. They aren't meant to be one-season trends. I want to create pieces that are worn for years and then passed down to future generations," said McNicol.

"When clothing is cherished and becomes an integral piece of a person's wardrobe, its value builds over time. It reflects an individual's personal style and story that can linger like a visual keepsake. For me, my grandfather's blue knit cardigan and Seiko watch hold special meaning," he explained.

McNicol's collections have been described as unisex clothing that is timeless, classic, modern and functional. Amid a flurry of media coverage - spanning jaw-dropping giants like GQ, The New York Times, Robb Report, Forbes and other national outlets - his designs have been lauded for melding the purposefulness of workwear with visual appeal that is polished and tailored.

Given such practicality, it comes as no surprise that even at his breakout NYFW appearance in September, McNicol dismissed extravagance for a pragmatic Midwest approach - his collections were modeled by 18 of his artist friends, who had driven overnight to the fashion show in a caravan from Cleveland.

Putting Cleveland Back in the Fashion Forefront

photo of William Frederick camp shirt and cargo pantsAsk McNicol about his hometown, and he'll talk about rail terminals and docks on the Ohio River and its role in industry. That footprint made a mark on McNicol, who prioritizes looking local for the manufacturing needs of his company rather than outsourcing.

"It's important to me to invest in our community," emphasized McNicol. "I want to be part of the revitalization of Cleveland as a garment industry leader. At one time, Cleveland was second only to New York in terms of production. Restoring this rich tradition is inherent to the William Frederick mission."

Also important to McNicol is how Baldwin Wallace helped him in his career trek. He values the courses - accounting, marketing, economics, management and finance - whose content is still a mainstay for both his underwriter and fashion roles. But he believes the most rewarding element of the business courses he took were the professors who brought their real-life experiences into the classrooms.

And in typical McNicol style, he is ready to pay it forward by offering summer internships with William Frederick.

"I want to carry that forward to help mentor the next generation of business and fashion students, so they can find their paths. Giving back is important to me. It's the premise by which I define success," he asserted.

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