Wardrobe Crisis Podcast: Maggie Marilyn

What does it take to make it in fashion today? A passion for sustainability helps.  In this week’s podcast Vogue’s Clare Press meets the 25-year-old designer behind buzzy brand Maggie Marilyn. 

You might have heard of Maggie Marilyn. The New Zealand brand’s fans include the Duchess of Sussex, Livia Firth and yours truly.

The Duchess of Sussex wears Maggie Marilyn ‘Leap of Faith’ blazer dress on tour in New Zealand; Livia Firth wears Maggie Marilyn ‘Get ‘Em Girl’ dress to the Mary Poppins premiereClare Press wears Maggie Marilyn ‘Love Unconditionally’ satin pyjamas to the 2018 Green Carpet Fashion Awards, Italia.

The label is stocked in Saks, Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman and Lane Crawford, and was picked up in its first season by Net-A-Porter. Founder/designer Maggie Hewitt is just 25 – it was her birthday on Friday. So what does it take to make it as a young designer today? 

Fashion has always been a tough game, but it’s arguably harder than ever to break through. While social media is a great democratiser – it no longer matters so much if you’re based in one of the traditional fashion capitals – there are more brands than ever before, and the fashion-shopping public has grown fickler. There is simply too much fashion. We are spoiled for choice. 

One way to cut through is to genuinely care about something beyond the latest trend. Maggie Hewitt is such a designer. An environmentalist determined to do fashion differently, this millennial change-maker is one to watch.

“I have the daunting but incredibly exciting responsibility of being part of a new wave of designers who feel it is their obligation to turn this industry around,” she says. “Our mission is to do better than those before us.”

Listen to the interview here.

“I believe it starts with education,” says Hewitt, admitting that when she started out a little over two-and-half years ago, she knew next to nothing about carbon footprints or plastic pollution. 

“We live in a world where we don’t question where things come from anymore,” she says, let alone their impacts on the natural world. “But I’m such a nerd, I want know this stuff!” She also wants to find solutions.

She manufactures ethically in New Zealand and says that her seamstresses are “ingrained in the seams of our clothes”. She’s obsessive about sourcing more sustainable fabrics, and says she’ll never rest because new options are always coming up. But perhaps her biggest eco win was switching, last year, to a cassava-based bioplastic packaging alternative —and inspiring many other companies to follow suit.

“When I first started my band,” says Hewitt, “I went to such lengths to make the best product that I could, then we just slapped it all in plastic at the end because we were bound by what our retailers said we needed to do in terms of how we shipped it. That just seemed absurd to me! We needed a solution.

“We found a supplier, [but] they weren’t geared up to make the right kind of fashion packaging we needed,” she explains. “It took a long time to work through but once we got it, it was pretty incredible…[The new plant-based packaging] completely dissolves leaving no micro-particles and no chemicals.”

Next job? Share it. “I had an opportunity to share this with everyone else [in fashion] who was struggling with [contributing to the problem of plastic pollution]. The amazing thing about sharing it on Instagram was the response we got from other bands DM-ing us,” she says. 

“As humans, most of us want to do good, but I think sometimes we just don’t know here to start.” How about we start by giving Maggie a round of applause. The future’s bright after all.


Read how Duchess of Sussex Meghan became a sustainable fashion champion.

Listen to more Wardrobe Crisis podcast episodes here

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