Designer to Watch: Maggie Marilyn

by Sydney Sadick

Maggie Marilyn is among the most prominently-displayed brands at The Collective, a new shopping concept from Saks Fifth Avenue. The brand is the brainchild of New Zealand-based designer Maggie Marilyn Hewitt, who launched her label in September 2016 with an exclusive collection sold on Net-a-Porter. Now selling at 75 doors internationally, Hewitt (who’s only 23!) is on the path to becoming a household name with her strong, focused silhouettes. In town for a dinner in her name at Saks, which was attended by stars like Zosia Mamet, Hewitt tell us her story. 

Are people surprised to find out that you’re only 23? 
I feel a lot older than I am, but yes! It’s really exciting because I have time on my side. I’m so ambitious—I’m really excited for the future.

When did you realize you wanted to get into fashion design?
I can’t remember a specific moment, but for as long as I can remember, I wanted to have my own brand. I couldn’t take sewing or fashion in high school, so I applied to fashion college and got in. The summer before I went, my mom suggested I teach myself how to sew!

What was your first big break?
I was introduced to Net-a-Porter’s Lisa Aiken right after shooting the lookbook for my first collection. It was this a turbulent meeting. She was looking at me like, “Can you do this? Can you produce?” and I said, “Yeah, we can do it!” I was really crossing my fingers. She picked it up on the spot and a of couple weeks later, we got the order. It was a pretty significant order. I was like, “Wow. We’re in business!”

How do you describe the brand’s DNA?
It’s really fresh and optimistic. Feminine, yet it has a cool factor, with a little bit of edge. Most of all, it was designed to empower our customer and to make her feel optimistic about her day. She can go out there and do anything. She can change the world!

Your resort collection just hit stores. What’s the concept?
There are lots of beautiful colors, including a yellow that I like to call sunshine. It was inspired by those last days of summer when you’re feeling really sunkissed and great about the world. I’m really excited to see how that goes over in stores. We just just showed our fifth season this week, which is pre-fall. As a designer, I’m not always inspired by something tangible. Much of my inspiration comes from my mood. It’s been such an amazing year with so much change in my own life. I grew from being a young girl with a big dream to a woman running a business and dealing with those challenges.

Who is your dream celebrity client?
I love Julia Roberts. My mom named me Maggie after Maggie in Runaway Bride!

What’s it like to run a fashion business out of New Zealand?
New Zealand is so removed from the fashion world in New York, Paris and London. I hope that gives me a unique perspective. I grew up in a really small town called the Bay of Islands, so I guess I’m a bit of a country girl at heart. It really is the best place for me to be.

How do you see the brand expanding?
Right now, I’m in a stage of reflection. It’s been so incredible to be in 75 doors and expanding into different regions. We are doing a capsule collection for Lane Crawford in China, and we’re also growing into the Middle East. I really want to grow into Europe—Italy, Germany, and Switzerland. And of course, it’s my dream to have my own brick-and-mortar stores!

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