Inside a nondescript building that contains some of the finest fabrics in the world, a team of designers, seamstresses and tailors are working on something almost as secret as the details of Conor McGregor's strategy for his fight against Floyd Mayweather.
That would be McGregor's boxing robe.
Even the mixed martial arts star himself didn't see it until he was in his dressing room at T-Mobile Arena Saturday night, said David August Heil, the man responsible for the garment.
McGregor, nicknamed Notorious and known as a notorious clothes horse, trusts he'll always look like a champ. Heil provides tailor-made suits and casual wear to the rich and famous. His clients have included Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush and, more recently and infamously, the bombastic Irish fighter squaring off with Mayweather.
McGregor's collection of Heil's three-piece suits numbers in the hundreds. The prized creation is wool and pinstriped. McGregor wore it to the press stop in Los Angeles last month and proudly showed off the pinstripes, which read read "f*** you.''
Heil, wearing a matching suit and mischievous grin that day, said he'd been searching since January for someone willing to weave profanity into the fabric. He said it was a surprise for McGregor – and countless people who have since viewed photos of the suit online.
"It could have been really bad or really fantastic,'' Heil said. "And it turned out to be a grand slam.''
What it costs to look like McGregor
Working together, Heil and McGregor tend to swing for the fences, recently experimenting with floral prints and never sparing expense. Heil estimated the fighter each year spends more than $1.2 million on clothes. A good chunk of that money ends up with Heil, who said McGregor spends $7000 to $9000 per suit, $5600 to $12,650 per sport coat and $715 to $1130 for dress shirts when he's ordering from Heil.
For the buildup to the "The Money Fight'' this week, Heil said, he has produced seven special outfits for McGregor – and has been tasked with helping McGregor win the wardrobe war.
"Conor's definitely got the edge, in a big way,'' Heil, 56, said this week. "And I know that Floyd knows that too.
"I think (Mayweather) is looking for flash, and flash is not what you want. You want elegance and you need a beautiful finish on your garment. That's what Conor has, and Floyd definitely does not have that.''
On Wednesday, Mayweather fired back.
"I don't get paid to dress," he said. "I get paid to kick ass."
Loyalty over royalties
Apparently Mayweather once wanted Heil in his corner too.
In 2010, Heil said, he got a call from Mayweather's team in hopes Heil would outfit Mayweather before Mayweather's fight against Shane Mosley. Turned out Heil was already working with Mosley.
"It was a little awkward,'' Heil said, "but you've got to be loyal and we're very loyal.''
Offering fearless advice
He said his relationship with McGregor dates back about three years, when UFC president Dana White and Lorenzo Fertita, then co-owner of UFC, ushered McGregor into an office with a promise of new clothes.
"Is this the tailor?" Heil recalled McGregor asking, and Heil added, "We got to educate him a little on that. Hey, Conor, guess what? I meant to tell you this, but I'm not a tailor.''
He's more painter, with fabrics his palette. Heil recalled a phone conversation with McGregor last month when the fighter was in New York for a promotional stop for the fight.
"He actually FaceTimed me from Gucci that day and said, 'Hey, listen, I want to wear this fur,' " Heil said. "And I said, 'Oh, my God, don't do it.'
"I said, 'You've been talking up you're an elegant dresser and (Mayweather) should dress his age and now you're going to come out in a fur? I think it's a bad idea. But, I know Conor, and once he has something in his mind ..."
Pushing the style envelope
Bare-chested, McGregor arrived for that press conference wearing the white fur coat, although at Heil's behest he also wore loafers rather than going barefoot.
"I'm just a young man enjoying myself,'' McGregor said that day as he paraded past a line of reporters.
Things could get even more flamboyant this week.
Although the seven outfits included two tasteful plaid suits, Heil refused to divulge details about the after-fight party outfit that he called "crazy'' and "over the top.'' McGregor's love for fashion dates to his childhood in Ireland, according to Heil, who said he recently outfitted McGregor's baby boy for two suits and will be making clothes for McGregor's father this week.
"He always told me that his father was a big advocate of wearing a nice hand-tailored suit,'' Heil said. "I think what we've done is taken him to a completely different level.
"Conor loves clothing and he loves to push the envelope. What's kind of fun about dealing with someone like that and working with someone like Conor is I love doing the same thing, and it's all about owning what you're wearing.''