Style & Substance:
At PROVK we're constantly on the hunt for people of style and substance. Those who embody unwavering perseverance to follow a passion, without sacrificing style. Leo Tropeano, the founder of Mugsy Jeans, is just what we we’ve been looking for. An entrepreneur that admittedly went into the jeans business being very “naive.” A business that is not for the faint of heart, and one that pins you against giants of the fashion industry. Through pure stubbornness and persistence, Leo found a way in. Leaning on many mentors along the way, he created a product that is both stylish and down right comfortable. What more can we ask for? We had an opportunity to check out these jeans and they didn’t disappoint. These jeans check off all of the boxes, stylish with great material and comfort. We had to talk to the man behind the brand, Mugsy. We sat down with Leo and talked style tips, the Mugsy name and what inspired him to start his company.
What is your earliest memory of styling/fashion?
A lot of my time as a kid was spent following my mom around antique and interior design stores. Some of my earliest memories in life are from sitting in meetings with her and a designer, scrolling through books of fabrics for upholstered chairs, pairing furniture together, etc. I even remember one time my mom brought home a few mannequins, styled them chicly and placed them throughout our house! For whatever reason, she was always interested in that world and it’s easy to see how her eye for style has had a big impact on me.
Who are some of your style heroes?
I can’t say I have any specific style heroes, I’m just drawn to anyone rocking classic style - anything and everything timeless.
What advice would you give men who are trying to be stylish?
Keep it simple! Most of the time I’m wearing leather boots/shoes, jeans and a plain or patterned tee. Then maybe I’ll throw over a sweater, button-down or blazer depending on what I’m doing. You can’t go wrong with that look, it’s clean and works for anyone in almost any circumstance. Simplicity is king.
What’s the biggest mistake you see guys make when dressing?
Wearing clothes that are too big. You can wear a 3-piece Armani suit, but if it’s too big on you, you’ll look like shit. Rock clothes that fit you well (not too baggy, not too tight) and you’ll already be 90% of the way to looking good in your clothes!
Who does it right?
I’m a big fan of Frank Ocean – he nails the street style look in a way that it still looks fitted and flattering. Rami Malek is another guy I follow. I love how he takes risks with his tailoring.
Apart from your jeans, what is your favorite item?
Hands down, boots. Every guy needs a pair of well-made, cap-toed brown leather boots. If you have that and a good pair of jeans, you’re golden. I’m really digging Thursday boots at the moment – they have a lot of classic styles that are really well made at a great price.
What made you start Mugsy?
I moved to NYC after graduating from college and immediately knew I had to upgrade my wardrobe, so I started the search for better jeans and was blown away that I couldn’t find anything that looked good AND was comfortable—all the slim fits made my crotch feel like it was in a chokehold! The more I searched, the more hopeless I became so I set out to fix the problem myself.
How did you get started?
Naively (haha). I had no idea how complicated jeans are to make and how big the barriers of entry are in the denim industry. Fortunately, I’m extremely stubborn and I just kept meeting everyone I could in the fashion space, learning as much as possible about making clothes, and iterating my design until I perfected Mugsy’s. But really it all came down to meeting people that were willing to help me along this crazy journey that is Mugsy; we’d be nowhere if it weren’t for those mentors!
Where did the name come from?
I was home visiting my parents for the holidays right around when I set out to start a jeans company and I heard my Dad calling my Mom ‘Mugsy’. I immediately was like, “What was that?” and he told me it’s his nickname for her when she’s being goofy. I loved the name and its meaning, and we’ve been Mugsy ever since!
You have a unique marketing approach, can you talk a bit about that?
Absolutely. When I started Mugsy, I wanted every interaction with us to feel like you’re dealing with a good friend. Applied to marketing, we’re always thinking on what our friends enjoy, what they’re tired of, how we can provide them an extraordinary experience. When you take that approach, it makes everything so much easier and fun and that resonates well with our audience.
What makes Mugsy jeans better? What do you want to accomplish with this brand?
When we design Mugsys, we aim to give guys total confidence in the way they look and feel. We do this by making comfort our number one focus. The difference is in our custom-blended Mugsy denim that feels as comfortable as sweatpants, but without sacrificing style. When you’re comfortable and confident, there’s no stopping you, the sky is your limit. In that sense Mugsys are much more than just jeans, and that’s what we’re all about—elevating the Mugsy Man. We have a lot of exciting ideas on how to expand upon that goal in the future.