Daniel Mofor seemed to appear out of nowhere, a vision in a knee-grazing cobalt coat. It was made of cashmere, and he designed it himself. Not many on the Dallas fashion scene knew Mofor before he showed up at that Fashion Group International mixer at Tootsies in January. How could they have? He hadn’t done much networking in town, and it was just last year that Mofor quit his full-time gig as a computer engineer at Walmart’s Arkansas headquarters, moved to Dallas, and focused all of his attention on his passion project: Don Morphy Privé Clothiers, a line of custom suits that hug athletic builds and come with all the trimmings—real horn buttons and bespoke piping.
Yet since opening his custom suit studio on Stemmons Freeway, Mofor has quietly ammassed an international following and an impressive roster of clients: Emmitt Smith, T.D. Jakes, rapper Mike Jones, Tyson Chandler, and Dwight Howard, the 6-foot-11 basketball player who discussed his style with the New York Times last fall:
“Now, I don’t mind going for the crazy colors. I don’t mind going for the crazy styles. This season, I’m going to turn a lot of heads. I have a stylist, J. Bolin, and he works with a manufacturer called Don Morphy. We sit down and go over the styles. I choose the lining, the material, the colors. It’s like a day’s worth of working on these suits before the season starts.”
When I met Mofor a few weeks ago, he also tells me about a very important suit for a very important musician for a very important occasion, but he asks that I not put those details in print since it was commissioned by another designer and that guy gets the credit (this is normal in the biz, he says).
So who is this well-dressed man working in the shadows? Where did Daniel Mofor come from? Who exactly is Don Morphy? And how did Mofor go from computers to custom suiting?
For starters, “Don Morphy” is a play on his surname plus his nickname “Don Cheriff,” which he earned as a youngster in Cameroon, Africa, due to the fact that he always wore a hat (cheriff = sherrif). Mofor’s mother was a clothing designer, so it wasn’t completely out of left field when the computer engineer decided to run off to Naples, Italy, for three months and learn how to make suits.
He says the school he attended in Italy is called Vuze and it’s very small, so that’s why there’s no evidence of it on the internet; he heard about it while visiting his cousin in Paris several years back. And it was there in Naples that Mofor was able to make manufacturing connections, though that experience is also shrouded in mystery: He describes being ushered to three different houses before his Naples contacts trusted him enough to take him to the manufacturing facilities where his suits and shoes are now made.
As if Mofor’s background isn’t cryptic enough, here’s how he responds when I ask for a description of his style: “I would describe it as the past. And the future. With a pop of color.” Abstract, yes, but I begin to see what he means as I look through GQ, Esquire, and Vogue street style photos taken of him at Pitti Uomo, the most illustrious of international menswear shows. There he is with the thick pinstripes and double-breasted coats reminiscent of the ’30s and ’40s, sometimes accessorized with a cigar in his teeth—and often with a hat.
Yet while Daniel Mofor strikes me as an enigmatic figure, here’s something that is absolutely, unquestionably, verifiable: his boys, ages 5 and 7, are the best-dressed kids in Dallas. That, I know, without a doubt.
Each January and June, more than 30,000 visitors descend on an ancient fortress in Florence, Italy, ostensibly searching out the latest trends in men’s clothes and next season’s goods. The look at the fair, #PittiUomo, is all about the suit. This week, the #streetstyle photographer @styledumonde was on assignment there for @nytimesfashion. That’s where she bumped into the designer Daniel Mofor and his (very stylish) sons. Follow @nytimesfashion to see more photos like this one.