and smoldering with creative energy, Finley has established a line
that garners attention for its distinctive style and custom tailoring.
By cleverly balancing raw, urban flair and classic traditional lines,
Finley brings edge and flawless craftsmanship to his line, creating
denim designs that are as beautifully constructed as his couture
the usual design school graduate, Finley's training originated in
his own South Central neighborhood where the bold 70s film fashions
at the local theaters first sparked his interest and impressed the
masses. "Superfly, The Mack, Cleopatra Jones .... were like
icons," recalls Finley. "[And] the clothes in Coffy, Cotton
Comes to Harlem - we wanted to emulate that... But to get the true
essence of it all it had to be tailor made."
young to afford the services of a tailor, Finley set out to make
his own clothes. After a night school class at Los Angeles Trade
Technical School, Finley was soon designing clothes for himself
and friends to wear to their formals, parties and senior breakfasts.
Then as a high school senior he won a scholarship to study tailoring
at Trade Tech.
studying at Trade Tech, Finley worked "more jobs than the Fugitive,"
gaining experience "doing everything from sample cutting, to
designing, to making patterns at companies like Organically Grown,
Barco Uniform, Frankenstein Shirts." This would ultimately
be the training ground for DROPDEAD. Collecxcion - teaching him
what to do and what not to do. While working, Finley cultivated
his custom clientele, which had originated in his high school days.
This would often entail him leaving his 9 to 5 to complete garments
for his personal customers. "I would literally sew the stuff
myself. A lot of people who call themselves designers think it's
beneath them. I took pride in knowing that I could sew." It
is precisely this hands-on approach that has earned Finley a reputation
for quality craftsmanship and an ability to design clothing that
fits the African¬American physique and women with curves.
the 80s Finley introduced a commercial mail-order line of sportswear.
Its success enabled him to finance the first DROPDEAD. couture collection
and soon after DROPDEAD. Collecxion was selling to select department
stores and boutiques Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom's, Saks Fifth Avenue