Since Maggie Hewitt launched her brand, Maggie Marilyn in 2016, Hewitt has strived to create a brand whose connection with its community extends beyond the clothing. Seven years on, and it's safe to say that she has successfully accomplished this intention both in her home country, New Zealand, and across the shore in Australia. Now, after opening a brick and mortar store in Paddington and moving her life to Sydney's easterly Bondi, the designer is taking the next step to cementing Maggie Marilyn in the Australian fashion landscape with a show at Australian Afterpay Fashion Week this coming May.
Hewitt will debut the brands Resort 24 collection at this years AAFW with a planet conscious off-site show, keeping the brand's integral values in mind as a B Corp certified business. The brand's legacy is one of hope, resilience, joy, and connection; all points of expression that Hewitt intends to explore through the show, which, as she tells RUSSH, will be "a passport to somewhere equally hopeful and nostalgic".
Below, Maggie Hewitt tells us about the upcoming Resort 24 show at AAFW – which will take place on Monday May 15 – what it's been like moving countries, and her connection with the Australian customer.
Tell me about your decision to return to AAFW this year… how did it come about?
Our decision to present at AAFW this year felt like a natural next step for the brand. We opened Maggie Marilyn's first international Home in Sydney last August and have always felt incredible support and camaraderie from our Australian community for our mission to use business as a force for good.
Australia has been a second home to the brand for a few years now, how does the brand connect to the Australian spirit?
MM has always found a kindred spirit in our Australian customer. I think Aussies share MM's optimism – despite the challenges we collectively face – and belief in the power of community. But most of all I think MM's love of Mother Nature and all her spoils is what resonates with Australians. No matter where you live in Australia or what kind of nature you're used to – red-sand deserts or white-sand beaches – the beauty and fragility of nature is right on your doorstep, and this gives the Australian customer context for MM's commitment to treading lightly on the planet.
Is this something you hope to tap into with the upcoming show?
I think it's the dream of any designer to make clothes that elicit a kind of emotive response from their wearer – be it joy, nostalgia or courage – and I'm excited about the challenge of translating that into a special fashion week experience. Without giving too much away, MM's show will be a passport to somewhere equally hopeful and nostalgic.
Can you give us a bit of an overview of what goes into creating a sustainable runway show?
Nothing we do exists in a vacuum – my team and I look at everything through the holistic lens of "How does this impact people and the planet?", and make sure that we tread lightly. And this same thinking went into the decisions we've made around fashion week. Our off-site venue, for example, is an existing venue (with its own special history and personality) and this made more sense to us than creating something purpose-built and, ultimately, disposable. Our values also informed our decision to partner with circular beauty brand Emma Lewisham as the main beauty sponsor of the show; EL is a fellow B Corp business that shares MM's belief in using business as a force for good.
Tell me a bit about how the brand is evolving this year…
This year is about continuing to grow our global community. As the business has grown it's been exciting to expand our geographical footprint and partner with experts in their respective fields – be it Good Earth Cotton in Moree, here in Australia, or some of our manufacturers in Portugal. Earlier this year I travelled to Portugal to work alongside our makers to bring the fashion week collection to life and it was so inspiring to meet people who are so talented and passionate about their craft.
You recently relocated to Bondi, what has that change been like for you/the brand?
Having spent so much time in Sydney over the past six years while building MM, this city has felt like a second home for a while now – so to be putting down roots here feels really special. And having grown up in a rural coastal town in New Zealand and spending all of my childhood on the water, getting a place in Bondi and being so close to the ocean and nature feels comforting and grounding.
What are you looking forward to this year?
I'm so excited to share our resort collection with the world at fashion week, and continue connecting with our global customer. We are a solution-based business, and while our clothes are important, ultimately we see them as the vehicle to building a community of people who will help MM change the fashion industry and use business as a force for good.