What happens when you’re one of the most prodigious talents to emerge from Australasia in the last decade, give or take a few years? If you’re Maggie Hewitt, you launch a brand called Maggie Marilyn at age 22 and immediately get snapped up by all the major global e-tailers that matter upon your fashion week debut. But just what about Maggie Marilyn has curated luxury sites like STYLEBOP in such a style tizz?
For one thing, the brand is based in the somewhat isolated island nation of New Zealand, making the discovery and export of the brand that much more rarefied and unique. And of course, there is no arena more perfect than the online space in which to introduce the brand to an international clientele. But mainly (you’ll find our money firmly placed here), because the designs are that good.
In fact, they’re so good that Maggie Marilyn doesn’t need to abide by the rules of the old luxury guard. Fabricated in natural, ethically produced and sustainable materials, the brand champions what Hewitt likes to call ‘liveable luxury’— the kind of accessible clothing that isn’t designed to be stored away in a gilded cage, broken out only for infrequent special occasions.
But don’t just take our word for it. We spoke to the designer herself for her appraisal of the brand. And as we found out, everything that makes this must-have label different, also makes it a game-changer.
For the very few people who aren’t familiar with Maggie Marilyn, how would you describe your label? We call it liveable luxury; when I started designing my first collection it was really important to me to have a brand that of course was luxurious and beautifully made but that it would never feel too precious. I want Maggie Marilyn to be a brand that you grab for in your wardrobe without hesitation. The brand’s aesthetic is playful and optimistic, easy to wear ruffled silhouettes paired with oversized boyfriend pants and denim jackets.
Do you design with a particular girl in mind? Does that influence your design choices? Yes, I definitely do. The Maggie Marilyn girl is quietly confident, she is playful, doesn’t take herself too seriously. She is a feminist, yet openly vulnerable, endlessly optimistic and she truly believes in the power of possibility.
How do you envision your pieces being worn day-to-day? Like I said, it is all about livable luxury and being able to really live in and wear pieces from the Maggie Marilyn collections every day. From the perfect oversized boyfriend shirt with ruffled sleeves paired with your favourite jeans to the ultimate hoodie/track pant combo with fresh white sneakers.
What is a must-have piece from your third season? I would have to say our Red Heart Whisperer merino knit [shown above]. Red is so uplifting and it’s such a great layering piece for winter, but at the same time special enough to pair back with a great pair of vintage jeans. It’s feminine with its one sleeve ruffle while the off-white stripes give a sporty edge.
You’re incredibly committed to ensuring your designs are ethically sourced and produced. How important do you feel your ethical production is to this generation of customers, many of whom are probably around your age? I honestly think it is incredibly important, our customer is wise and intelligent and wants to buy pieces that are made with integrity, I truly believe this. I also think having a story behind our garments is increasingly important; there is so much clothing in the world, I don’t want to just contribute to making more stuff. I want our clothing to go deeper than just the outside appearance, I want to empower our customer, to give her the confidence to believe anything is possible, she can conquer her world.
Congratulations on showing at NYFW (debuting your Resort 2018 collection). It’s such a huge achievement for a reasonably young brand. Do you feel any pressure to move away from where you’re currently based in New Zealand? There are definitely pros and cons to being so isolated, but I am determined to make it work. I love New Zealand it is such an important part of who I am and the DNA of the brand. I envision having bases all around the world in the future, but until then New Zealand is home.
How do you think New Zealand influences your designs? Do you draw inspiration from anywhere else? I think it definitely does, New Zealand has a reasonably laid back lifestyle and I think this really comes through in how we dress. We very rarely wear heels in New Zealand so I think that seems to be why I tend to pair everything with sneakers. Even denim ball gowns… However, I definitely do look further afield for inspiration. Season 3 was largely inspired by Jane Austen’s England and André Kertez’s Distortion photography.
What do you think are some of the key differences between Aussie and Kiwi style? I think Aussie’s are actually a little more playful with their style, Kiwis can be a bit conservative and we tend to love black. But here at Maggie Marilyn we love colour.
As a young and undoubtedly emerging designer, how do you feel about being compared to other designers such as Kym Ellery? It really is the ultimate compliment to be compared to someone like Kym Ellery who has created an incredibly beautiful brand and has had such monumental international success.
And finally, people like Brooke Testoni and Zanita have already been spotted in your clothes. Who would you love to see wearing your designs? Yes, Brooke and Zanita are such beautiful Maggie Marilyn muses. I would love to see Amal Clooney in Maggie Marilyn. That would be a dream.