Tonight, Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor are facing off in what has been billed as the biggest fight in combat sports history in Las Vegas, with the winner being awarded a 300-plus jewel Money Belt. But aside from being one of the most hyped sporting events in recent memory, McGregor-Mayweather is also undoubtedly going to be a style face-off.
During their world tour to promote the fight, McGregor caused a stir during a press conference in Toronto when he showed up in a pinstripe suit that spelled out the words “FUCK YOU,” a customized piece designed by David August Heil under his eponymous label. We can only expect him to wear something as attention-grabbing tonight.
In an exclusive interview, we talked to Heil, who also dressed McGregor's son in a tiny suit, about the process of putting together McGregor’s outfit, the challenges of working with an ambitious fashion personality like McGregor, his dream client, and more.
You’ve worked with a lot of different celebrities and athletes. What is the process of getting to know a client’s style? How much studying do you do of prior outfits and preferences, or do you prefer to keep that separate so you can imprint your own sense of style to the outfits?
If time permits, I always do some research prior to meeting a new client to understand their taste and sensibilities. If there is a scarcity of information about the person online then I wait to meet them in person and review their wardrobe as part of the process. Most importantly, I really spend a great amount of time listening. What I try to do with our clients is help them use fashion as a platform to build their brand as it’s a great way to reach and engage an audience.
McGregor has been known to wear plenty of scene-stealing outfits to the ring before. Did you study any of those before designing his outfit for his fight against Mayweather?
We’ve actually designed each and every one of Conor’s previous arena arrival outfits, so we have those readily available in our library. This time, however, Conor asked me to design his fight gear—boxing shorts, walk-out look, and team corner jackets. We really wanted to design something that fit with his brand. He loves fashion and I wanted to bring that to the fight. Conor is a scene-stealer regardless if he’s in one of our subtle 3-piece suits or in our bold floral pattern print pants. He’s got such a dynamic personality and it’s always fun designing for someone who loves taking risks, in and out of the ring.
Having worked with McGregor before and during his promotional tour for his fight against Mayweather, how is the approach different when it comes to an in-ring outfit and outfits he would wear at other events?
For Conor’s fight, we really had to study the sport and take into consideration his full movement. It’s definitely a different approach from the tailored suits we do for him. However, the selection process is similar. I really look for prints, patterns, and color when sourcing fabrics and always look at pushing the boundaries as Conor does everyday.
What kind of input and feedback did McGregor give about this ring outfit, and what has he said regarding the designs you’ve made for him in the past?
He certainly has a vision and an opinion. For the most part, he doesn’t normally offer much feedback as he knows we are totally in tune and connected on that level. But for this fight, he is very interested in acknowledging boxing’s history and also leaving an indelible imprint on the sport. We have actually designed two different complete looks for the fight and will let him decide the day of the big event.
What is the most challenging part of putting together an in-ring outfit?
Perhaps it’s the lack of particular guidelines for the shorts. The commission board does not stipulate too many requirements and that can actually be challenging, yet exciting at the same time. It did give us the opportunity to experiment, but long gone are the days of a simple poly-blend silk boxer short. These days, fighters want to stand out and claim more than their corner. They want to radiate the light while on camera.
Is it especially more challenging for someone who is as ambitious and daring fashion-wise as McGregor is?
Because Conor loves taking risks, it makes the entire process extremely fun and even that much more rewarding when you’re on a world stage, adrenaline is flowing, the lights come on, and the crowd goes wild.
So, what can you tell us about the actual look of the in-ring outfit?
I can’t reveal too much but I will say we designed two completely different looks for him to choose from. The designs incorporate the blend of sport quality fabrics with luxury details. We played with some bold prints and texture for a combination that is respectful to the sport but incorporates fashion. For his actual walkout look, I hope fans love it. It will be quintessential Conor.
Do you expect the outfit to be as polarizing and divisive as McGregor has been throughout the promo tour for this fight?
I think Conor is a disrupter but not polarizing. He really is a showman. My job is to help support that and I think the outfits we have designed for him—from his traditional suits for his press conference, his post-fight looks for the after-party, and his fight look—all of it is meant to enhance his power and confidence.
What’s the most ambitious outfit design idea you’ve gotten from McGregor?
Designing his fight look is definitely the most ambitious project yet. It’s a chance of a lifetime for the fight of the century. I’m truly honored and humbled.
Do you have a prediction for this fight?
Win or lose, Conor is a great sportsman and I personally feel he has already surpassed almost everyone’s expectations. He is the true winner. We have already moved on to the next project, which is our new menswear label, August McGregor, that will launch with the Spring 2018 collection in January. Guys will be able to get Conor’s iconic look with complete outfits starting at $650.
Is there an athlete you would like to outfit, and what kind of outfit would you like to put together for him or her?
I’m becoming a huge soccer fan and would love to work with someone like [Cristiano] Ronaldo. He has great swagger and I think we could work well together. I also appreciate David Beckham for his iconic style and would love to collaborate with him on some classic looks.