Married To The Mob

Married to the Mob

At 24, Leah McSweeney is the successful owner of the breakout female streetwear brand, Married To The MOB NYC, a clothing line that’s been in operation since 2004 and, clearly, wears the queen’s crown within its industry. In 2002, McSweeney’s fiery personality took on a New York City police officer by way of a bottle to the back of an officer’s head, after five of New York’s finest began assaulting her friend (“There are definitely elements of street in us – I’ve had way too many bar fights – but it is not for people to take so literally and seriously, but people were,” says McSweeney, adding that people within the streetwear industry tried derailing MOB with a “boys’ club” mentality).

Ultimately, the 2002 scuffle (a police sergeant punched McSweeney and slammed her face into subway grates, three times – McSweeney lost one tooth) reinforced McSweeny’s distrust towards police, however, McSweeney sued the city, winning a settlement that assisted in building MOB’s foundation.

“Guys had Supreme, they had Alife, they have all these other dope brands, but there was nothing there for the girls,” says McSweeney. However, the budding success of MOB is in full bloom with international distribution of its exclusive designs that offer women equal opportunity for dap streetwear getups.

In the past six months, McSweeney’s life has changed, as she is a soon-to-be mother with her first child (most official baby?). Congratulations!

“Most of the dudes that are into this shit wait online, sit on blogs and post photos of themselves and the outfits they are wearing! I don’t like generalizing like they’re all herbs, because they’re not, I’m sure, but it seems very feminine!”

Format: The Married To The MOB NYC bio explains how you created the line in 2004 while brainstorming and drinking margaritas on your stoop, now, what were the challenges you faced in the beginning?
Leah: You know what, it was really easy! I wouldn’t call them challenges, but we were not that familiar with having our own business or having a clothing line, I mean, I never had one before – I styled a lot and stuff like that, but that’s completely different. There were a lot of learning lessons. But for challenges, certain people were trying to make MOB not happen, because there were people that didn’t like girls coming in on the scene and doing our thing. I don’t think that was a challenge; it made me what to do it even more.

When I say scene, I mean people behind the scene. People that have been doing clothing lines longer than us – I don’t really like getting into it, because I don’t like talking about negative stuff. But why would they; I think we came out strong, like we’re bad ass bitches, but it is not to be taken too seriously, it is for fun. There are definitely elements of street in us – I’ve had way too many bar fights – but it is not for people to take so literally and seriously, but people were. It is like, ‘This is the boys’ club.’ – [it’s] kind of homo, right? But there were also a lot of people that held it down and helped us. I will be forever thankful to them.

Format: Married To The Mob is a film made in 1988 with Alec Baldwin and Michelle Pfeiffer, however, most official bitches is the acronym for MOB in Married To The MOB NYC. That’s clever. How did you create the name?
Leah: Me and my friends were known as the MOB crew before Married To The MOB came about. One day, I said out loud, ‘Married to the mob!’ and it just kind of stuck. I remember, Aron wanted to name one of his parties Married To The Mob or some shit like that. I can’t even remember the whole story. We got into an argument and it was before the clothing line came, but I knew I was going to use the name for something. I was like, ‘You can’t use that! Don’t blow it up!’ because I knew I was going to do something with it. I think people like the name. I went through a phase where I was like, ‘Married To The MOB, what the hell was I doing naming my clothing line Married To The MOB?!’ but I love it, I really do. When I go to the bank the tellers are like, ‘Married To The MOB?!’ It came together really well and I always say that name picked me.

Married to the Mob

Format: There are a handful of streetwear companies specifically for women. In your opinion, why has the streetwear industry not provided more options for its female consumer?
Leah: It was weird, because when I first started Married To The MOB there really wasn’t anything for women at all, besides lines having random girl stuff, but it wasn’t up to par with what the guys had. Guys had Supreme, they had Alife, they have all these other dope brands, but there was nothing there for the girls. I mean, in terms of tees, when I was younger I rocked Liquid Sky tees and X-Girl tees, but that was Grade 6 we are talking here. There was really nothing for girls when I started MOB in this genre of shit. But why, I have no clue. And why is there still next to nothing for girls in this market; it might have something to do with the biological and psychological differences between men and woman. I don’t really want to get into that because it’s a very controversial issue and too deep for this, but I will say that people saw that they could make money in this market and other girl brands started to pop up, even guys started doing the girl stuff, but there are not too many girl brands that stick. And guys doing girls T-shirts does not work.

Format: In your opinion, do you believe a man can design streetwear clothing for a woman or is it not doable?
Leah: I don’t think so. I think men can design other beautiful clothing for women, but when it comes to streetwear I don’t think so, because the men in the streetwear scene are a different kind of guy. I think they see girls one way and we’re totally not that way. They don’t understand women. I’ve seen many attempts by guy streetwear companies to create girl brands under their company or design some girl tees and it always blows up in their face. You know what I have to say to that, if I was a dude I’d tell you all to suck my dick!

Married to the Mob

Format: Married To The MOB NYC has more swagger than its competitors, how do you capture this swagger in your brand’s image?
Leah: I put out what I like. I have distinct tastes in what I like and what I don’t like and it all has to do with where I’ve grown up, different things I’ve been through, how I like to dress and the women I look up to and how they dress, who they are, what they do and what they like. I was doing styling work, before, and when I do photo shoots I make sure the shit is crispy and I make sure I have a hot model – my sister, I’m lucky my sister’s a model and I have other hot friends, too. I think that the authenticity in my work shows through everything I do; in the website and the clothing. When people try to fake it, I think it’s obvious and I think it comes out like shit. I’m putting out stuff that I believe in and I’m putting out everything I think about and all my ideas – I’m not faking it.

Format: How is a woman’s swagger different than a man’s swagger?
Leah: The guys that are into streetwear are such fucking girls that I can’t even explain it, it’s bizarre to me. I made a T-shirt that reads ‘Men Are The New Women’ and I don’t know if people really got that. That was about men in the streetwear scene, a play off of the Supreme, Barbara Kruger font, logo, because they’re at the top of streetwear and seem so anti-female to me. And of course, Barbara Kruger’s messages in her works are completely that of a feminist. So it was a play off of all that shit! The line of kids outside waiting for stuff makes me feel like, ‘What the fuck is wrong with you people?’ It’s crazy to me, but if that’s their thing, that’s their thing. I’m really happy I’m doing girls streetwear, because it is completely different than the guys’ streetwear; the girls aren’t herbs. Most of the dudes that are into this shit wait online, sit on blogs and post photos of themselves and the outfits they are wearing! I don’t like generalizing like they’re all herbs, because they’re not, I’m sure, but it seems very feminine! I love clothing and nice items, but these guys are too much with this shit. I don’t go to these streetwear blogs, because it’s all very boring. There are very few companies doing refreshing things right now. And those are the companies that will make it, the rest will run out of money and fold out. They need to bring back that website Don’t Believe The Hype Beast, because it made fun of everything, including Married To The MOB, I thought it was fucking funny as hell. They need to bring that shit back, I’ll even help them out! I’m not trying to tear apart this world that I’m in, but I think people need to get some style and stop following everybody else.

“There are very few companies doing refreshing things right now. And those are the companies that will make it, the rest will run out of money and fold out.”

Format: Do traditional ideals on what women should wear and how women are defined by their clothing affect your line’s end product?
Leah: Clothing has always been a way for women to accept themselves. Clothing says a lot about people, because that’s the first thing you see; somebody’s appearance. Nobody should be judging you on clothing, but people are going to. I don’t really think about that when I’m making clothing, I think about what I want to wear or what I think is good. I do it and I hope other girls will like it.

Format: What are the distinct differences in creating a streetwear line for women opposed to men?
Leah: I don’t make streetwear for men, thank God! But I would say women are much more selective. Women care more about the clothing and what’s on it. Women think about things a little more before they buy things, but a guy will buy anything a certain company makes, because it is that company. Girls are a little more personal about it.

Format: Several clothing lines are designing for their spring `08 line, how does Married To The MOB NYC forecast what its consumer will buy several months in the future?
Leah: I don’t really forecast what people will like, I just make what I like and know girls will dig it, because they have been, so I’m doing something right. I get ideas in my head, I write them down and that’s how it happens.

Married to the Mob

Format: The T-shirt 40,000 Pills, 22 OZ Of PCP is interesting, please explain what that T-shirt means to you.
Leah: A very good friend of mine was locked up and that was her charge. She was unfairly targeted because she was a woman drug dealer. There was a whole group of people she worked with – it was a pretty infamous crew in the `90s. There was an article about them in a magazine and the Feds and DEA saw the article and said, ‘We’re going to tap this girl’s phone and since she’s the girl, she’s going to be the one to lead us to the rest of them.’ They figured, because she was a woman, she was weak and she’s going to talk to them. They tapped her phone, stalked her and finally had enough evidence to arrest her. She would not talk. The rest of the guys in the crew all talked and snitched on each other. She did three and a half years in federal prison and, the other guys, some of them didn’t go to jail at all, some went for a year, because they all snitched on everybody – she wouldn’t and she didn’t. That’s my T-shirt for her. Her name and her inmate number are on the back of the T-shirt. That’s, actually, my best seller. I wasn’t sure if it was going to sell. My mom was like, ‘Oh my God, Leah, what are you doing? What if a 13-year-old girl wants to wear your stuff?’ Well, the 13-year-old is going to have to get a different T-shirt. It wasn’t about putting the name of drugs on a T-shirt; it’s about people thinking my girl was a weak link, because she is a female and she turned out to be the only one with any fucking balls.

Format: Please explain the creation of the MOB Player’s jacket.
Leah: I have a satin baseball jacket and I used to wear it all the time and it was my favorite jacket, I stole it from Macy’s when I was younger – I was a little clepto when I was young. I brought a razor blade, because there was no way of getting the sensor out of the jacket, it was not happening! So, I had to cut it out and there was a hole on the side of the jacket and I had a patch over it that read, ‘Jesus Is My Boss,’ because that was the only patch that I could find, at the time, to sew on it. That was my inspiration for that jacket, even though I kind of lied on the line sheet, I said that a boy stole it for one of the MOB crew members, because I didn’t feel comfortable saying I stole it, but I have to tell the truth now, I stole it! But I never stole from any small stores! I only stole from Bloomingdales, Macy’s and Sak’s. I mean they’re ripping you off anyway, but that was when I was younger. On the sleeve it reads, ‘You Can Call Me Anytime On My Hello Happy Line,’ and that is a lyric from this song “Call Me,” by Lady Kier (Deee-Lite) who is one of my idols. She represents New York City when it was at its prime and a fun time in my life, junior high school. That’s the MOB Player’s jacket for you.

Format: Do you feel a social responsibility for the messages your lines send to its female consumers?
Leah: I went to an all girl Catholic school when I was younger. I had to wear a uniform and had nuns telling me how to act and shit like that. I was never accepted by my school and was eventually thrown out. It was fucked up because I wasn’t a bad kid, at that point, but I didn’t fit into their mold. And no matter how hard they tried to change me, it wasn’t happening. I think it has to do with a big part who I am today. I am really comfortable with who I am and have no problem expressing my views or how I feel. I don’t think about who’s not going to agree with me or who might say what about me if I act a certain way, or whatever. I feel like a lot of girls worry about that shit too much. I hate the double standards that women have to deal with when it comes to gender, as well. It’s bullshit. So my responsibility is to be myself and say how I feel and have my voice be heard and hope it will empower other females to do the same.

Married to the Mob

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Photography: David Perez and Lynnette Astaire

Jordan Chalifoux

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  1. DutchNucka says:

    This chick’s killing me. She did call it right though, streetwear is mostly for herbalicious mofuhkas. The whole game’s twisted up now, good to see some elements of real street shit in the game.

  2. “There are very few companies doing refreshing things right now. And those are the companies that will make it, the rest will run out of money and fold out.”

    so when is she going to start doing something refreshing?


    re pcp tshirt – her girl is a fucking idiot. hopefully she really got fucked with in jail. don’t do the crime if u can’t do the time bitches!

  4. Sameolshit says:

    this is more of that. the kier shirt is nice though. but it’s all the same ol shit.
    i hope you’re not the “most official bitches”. bitches suck.
    the dudes that are spoken of are tough guy coolguys. they all look the same. now the chicks all look the same too. nikes, bombers, new era.
    good for you with starting your own business at a young age, but shit, most official bitches? c’mon
    there is a war in iraq. stop being a bitch and start being a woman.

  5. man, she’s one in a mil right now when it comes to womens streetwear. hop off her meat.

  6. Hate it or love it !! ADDIKT WORKSHOP of ATLANTA carries the limited edition Mobb tees for the summer …check us!!! 1107 ralph david abernathy blv atlanta Ga 30310 ….also check 404-755-0525 ..yes we ship too!!!

  7. Married to the SLOB says:

    I can’t believe anyone lets this crackhead, fake-ass, wanksta talk! Raise your baby like the white trash mom you were born to be and let ALIFE design their own line! Styling?? You were an assistant if I remember? Losers talking about being a losers…… what a joke!

  8. For all the bastards dick out there lol so i think that u are all jealous to see how can we be us woman of 2007!!Strong powerfull independant and the list goes on!! Because u just can have what u are.. a loser!!! so shut ya fucking mouth and just lick it good muahahaha

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