"Fashion in the Middle East feels so fresh, colourful and powerful" – Fashion designer, Maggie Marilyn
N ew Zealand fashion designer Maggie Marilyn has been hailed as the next big thing. The creative, who has been producing under her eponymous label for just one year is already available in over 30 boutiques from Australia to the UAE, including Dubai's Boutique 1. Here Buro 24/7 Middle East's Editor-in-Chief, Shannon Wylie, speaks to Maggie Marilyn about her journey, the power of social media and why creating sustainable and ethically produced clothing is at the forefront of her emerging fashion empire...
You've been labeled as the "next big thing". What are your thoughts on such a big title, for such a new, niche brand?
It's a big title! I just feel extremely blessed for the response we have had to the brand. I have big dreams and aspirations, but most of all I feel so lucky to do what I love everyday and to have the best team who share my vision and ethos for creating an ethically and sustainably conscious brand.
Brands from Australia and New Zealand have historically been criticised for their inability to adapt to international markets, namely due to geographical isolation. As an emerging designer from a small town, how are you planning to "make it big"?
It can be a challenge to be so far removed from the fashion capitals of the world, however I prefer to look at the glass half full. It is also what is charming about my business. I feel being based in a beautiful place like New Zealand, where the pace of life feels a little slower, really is where I can be my best creative self. In today's world, with technology being so accessible it makes life easier being able to communicate with everyone around the world at the click of a button. As the business grows it's important for me keep my relationships with everyone strong and personal so I do travel a lot. But I am determined to have a global business based in the country that I love and call home.
You've just celebrated a year, since you first launched. What do you think about when you reflect?
It has been a whirlwind and I honestly feel like I have been working for years! So many dreams have come true, but it also hasn't been without its challenges. I feel like I have done a masters degree in business! I think one of the most important things I have learnt is to step back and make sure I am always enjoying the journey. I am so ambitious so sometimes I don't always take the time to celebrate my successes, but I am working on this!
Life is so short and so much of our time here is about the journey and not the destination
Maggie Marilyn is a sustainable brand and an ethically conscious one too, which is very much in line with Buro 24/7's Founder Mira Duma's Fashion Tech Lab. Tell us about your approach to this direction in fashion...
When I started my own brand, I knew I wanted to forge a new path. Being ethically and sustainably conscious is so much a part of the soul of the brand. There's this amazing community we are building full of people who share my passion for having a completely transparent supply chain. Every season we work on developing new relationships and innovations with our fabric mills and manufacturers to forge ahead and be a leader and innovator in ethical and sustainable fashion.
How would you describe the Maggie Marilyn woman and what does she look for in your designs?
The Maggie Marilyn girl is quietly confident; she is a dreamer. Gentle and firm in her beliefs. She is not afraid to speak the truth. Her uniqueness is matched in her elegance and timelessness. A feminist, while openly vulnerable, she is an environmentalist, pays attention to detail and fights for the underdog. Obsessively passionate, she is an optimist, and believes in the power of possibility. I think the Maggie Marilyn girl looks for pieces that are luxurious, that make her feel empowered, so she knows she can take on her world and make a difference.
Boutique 1 Dubai has just picked up your brand too. What do you foresee the key pieces of interest being?
I know, it is so exciting! The thing I love about the women in the Middle East is that they aren't afraid of colour! My designs can be elaborate, so I think they will enjoy those pieces because they have the confidence and flair. New Zealand women are more reserved, so seeing people in colour and print is beautiful and uplifting.
As an emerging designer, what traditional models of business have you decided against, if any, in favour of a more disruptive millennial-esque method?
It was my dream to create a global fashion business that is run from New Zealand, my home and the country that I love. I think this aspect of my business is unique, and though it's sometimes hard it is so rewarding. I work hard to create a culture at work that is positive, supportive and inspiring and it is my intention for that to extend out to all those involved with the brand.
What have you learnt about the power of social media as a brand, and what advice would you share?
To be honest social media was hard for me in the beginning because I'm not a huge social media user personally! However, this year in particular I have realised that being constantly present is really important. It is such a great platform to be able to share with our followers exciting news, and what's happening day to day. The power of reposting is always appreciated as obviously this spreads the word with those who may not know about Maggie Marilyn. My advice would be just to persist, be present and always stay true to yourself and the brand. Never lose sight of this.
Shop Maggie Marilyn's collection now available at Boutique 1 Dubai, Boutique 1 London and online at boutique1.com. Then, read System's Co-Founder and Editor Jonathan Wingfield's opinion on an era where fashion fans want more, more, more.