Well-Suited: The Tayion Collection
Former Detroit high-school teacher makes the cut in men’s clothing design
Montee Tayion Holland stood outside the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, Turkey, in amazement. His astonishment on this autumn 2012 day was not so much taking in the massive structure that houses more than 4,000 stores, as it was a wondrous reflection of his own personal achievement. Holland, a Detroit native who simply wanted to be a high-school principal, is instead standing before a world landmark — sourcing fabrics and meeting with new business partners — working on his successful line of men’s fashion suits known as The Tayion Collection.
“This was actually not my first trip to the Bazaar,” explains Holland, who is always impeccably dressed and accessorized, and at a glance might be mistaken for Michael Jordan. “But for some reason, this trip was a little sentimental. It really helped me see how far I’ve come, and helped me realize my company’s huge potential — just how far we’re going to go.”
Never a stranger to fashion (his mother taught him to dress well at an early age) Holland seriously began sinking his teeth into the industry in the late 1980s when he was stationed overseas with the U.S. Marine Corps.
“There were street vendors everywhere who would make whatever you tell them, right there on the spot,” he recalls. “I had all these cool ideas for suits in my head and I’d take them to the street vendors who would interpret them perfectly for very little money. When I’d come home, everybody wanted suits like mine.”
Encouraged by the feedback, he began designing for others. At this time, however, he was still determined to stick to the original plan — to finish school and become an educator. He went to college, then grad school, and even got a job teaching at Frederick Douglass High School in Detroit. But the fashion bug kept gnawing at him, and in 2003, he officially introduced The Tayion Collection to the world.
Holland took his collection to the Las Vegas MAGIC fashion trade convention. And though his real estate there was a humble 10-by-10 booth, his presence didn’t go unnoticed. The Tayion Collection was a hit. In fact, in its post-convention report, the MAGIC Fashion Convention deemed Tayion one of the hottest lines showcased that season. Nearly $1 million was sold to stores in Georgia, New York, Texas, Florida, and Michigan. Three of the first stores in Detroit to sell Tayion were Serman’s, Van Dykes, and The Broadway.
“So with a ton of orders across the country, we were successfully off and running,” he notes. “Then we were introduced to new words like ‘knock-offs’ and ‘licensing.’ I had no idea people could just take your designs, change the fabric, mass-produce them and sell them for less. Here’s a situation where imitation is not so much a sincere form of flattery.”
Holland had discovered an untapped niche in the fashion market, and his competitors were more than happy to help him fulfill the demand. He also found himself involved in overwhelming licensing agreements where tracking sales and orders became nearly impossible without a proper team in place.
Holland refused to be deterred from his vision. And now, with new partners, stronger resources, and the benefit of experience, he’s confident that the company is on the right track. Today, the company has offices in New York, Los Angeles, and Turkey, with suits having been sold in more than 1,000 stores throughout the U.S., a number Holland hopes to double this year.
Tayion Collection suits offer the look and feel of a custom suit with Savile Row details and urban fashion sensibility. Three-piece suits with lots of bells and whistles make a strong showing throughout the collection, along with comfortable silhouettes, peaked and notched lapels, contrasting top stitching, and luxurious lining fabrics.
In addition to the higher-end, natural fiber suits from The Tayion Collection, which retail for about $500; Holland also offers the T-Fusion Collection, a less-expensive synthetic assortment that reflects the same high-fashion awareness as The Tayion Collection, available at big box stores for about $150. Both feature coordinating ties — $40 to $60 for Tayion ties; and $20 for T-Fusion ties (currently available at Burlington Coat Factory and K&G Fashion Superstores). The Tayion Collection also plans to introduce overcoats for the first time this coming autumn.
Also set to debut in fall 2013 is Holland’s new contemporary casual line called MT Holland. The design of this collection is based on a lifestyle of confidence, success, and swagger. It’s a series of coordinates that mix and match, including jackets, blazers, vests, jeans, and overcoats.
Many celebs and sports figures have worn Tayion suits. They’ve also been featured in numerous movies and television shows.
“We‘ll soon be bringing other categories to market — shoes, shirts, accessories, belts,” Holland says. “My goal is to make men feel good about the way they look at an affordable price. We create merchandise that lets a man look and feel like a celebrity. It’s where custom comes together with ready-to-wear. Just as our slogan states, it’s ‘Where the Renaissance Man meets the New Millennium Man.’ ”
photographs by Cybelle Codish