As one of the guest judges at the 2018 iD Dunedin Fashion Week, designer Maggie Hewitt from Maggie Marilyn can empathise with the young designers. Having only graduated two years ago, Hewitt is an inspiration to many up-and-coming designers due to her unprecedented instant success. We caught up with her during iD to talk about sustainability, her new collection and the design talent she saw on the runway.

FTVNZ: How did you become involved with judging iD Dunedin Fashion Week?

Maggie Hewitt: I met Tanya (Carlson, Head Judge), at a party. I really respect her, she’s been so generous with sharing her knowledge with me. She’s super supportive – the epitome of what a designer should be. When she asked me to be a judge this year I jumped at the chance!

Plus, I only graduated two years ago so I know how the designers are feeling!

Did you notice any trends on the runway?

Designers that really resonated with me were saying something about the world they live in, and that reflected strongly in their collections. Some stories really drew you in.

The students have created some amazing things; there’s so much talent, technique and craftsmanship on display here.

Any advice for the new grads competing?

Go all out with creativity on your final collection. When you have your own label you need to have a commercial edge so for now, be as creative and outrageous as you can. So many embraced sustainability and zero-waste collections, which I believe is really important.

And new designers need to know about accounting – learn how to use a balance sheet!

2017 was a crazy busy year for you, how is 2018 going so far?

It’s going really well – just as crazy! We’ve been travelling loads. We showed Pre-Fall in Paris during fashion week. We hosted a dinner at Selfridges in London – it’s our first collection to be picked up by them so we’re really excited. We launched Spring/Summer at an event in Elyse Walker boutique, which is another exciting development for us.

Later in the year, we’ll be taking the collection to New York. We’re trying to find the perfect location, somewhere green. I want to bring New Zealand with us!

Tell us more about your NY event.

I’m so excited about it! We’re going to create an intimate brand experience. I’m so proud to be from New Zealand, it’s really important to me that I take New Zealand to the world. It’s such a big part of who I am as a designer. Maggie Marilyn is made in New Zealand (except knitwear, which is made in Italy). I’m proud of our local industry and talent and want to show it to the world.

Sustainability is very important to you. How do you see it becoming more of a hot topic?

I believe if you, as a designer, aren’t involving yourself in the sustainability conversation you’ll become irrelevant. It feels like there has been a shift in thought and consumer shopping habits. Transparency is being sought out for so many things, like food and fashion. We want to know where things come from.

For me, there has to be more than just bottom-line profit. I feel it’s my responsibility as a designer to educate customers to move towards slow fashion. There’s so much pressure to keep up with the Joneses and overconsumption is giving people anxiety. People need to understand the true costs of fast fashion.

I want to use fashion as a vehicle for good. I’m trying to implement change in our industry. That, for me, is contentment and success.

Main image courtesy of iD Dunedin Fashion Week.

Melissa Reid

Melissa Reid

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