In a shock move for the fashion industry but a welcome one for the environment, leading New Zealand-based global eco luxe label Maggie Marilyn has announced it will no longer be supplying garments to retailers around the world and is turning its back on the traditional seasonal model.
This is big news for the label that famously become a global sensation when Net-a-Porter secured the online exclusive rights to Maggie Marilyn’s inaugural collection in 2016 with many pieces selling out within 48 hours of being launched on the site.
For the past few months Maggie Marilyn HQ has been a hive of activity and top secrecy leading up to today’s announcement. Or more accurately put, “announcements” which we outline here!
Direct to consumer
“From now on the only place you will be able to buy Maggie Marilyn is from us direct to you,” says Maggie Marilyn designer and founder Maggie Hewitt. “Our decisions will no longer be dictated by seasons or someone else’s rules.”
Since the brand’s inception, Maggie Marilyn has challenged industry norms and tried to influence change where it could. However, over the past four years Hewitt realised that this wasn’t enough.
“Since our inception we have tried our best to influence change in the fashion industry. Maggie Marilyn exists to create a better world and we need change that is faster, stronger and bolder. Now is the time to be brave…We will design slowly and mindfully. Seasonless offerings that are traceable, organic, recycled or repurposed that drive forward our mission around transparency, circularity, inclusivity and regeneration…We believe everyone has the power to change the world. Now we truly have the freedom to change ours.”
New retail home
Going forward, the only place you will be able to buy Maggie Marilyn is from their online store or its new retail ‘Home’ in New Zealand – the first of what Hewitt intends to be many around the world.
Emblematic of the brand’s transition to DTC (direct to customer), today Maggie Marilyn celebrates the opening of its first brick and mortar store in Britomart, downtown Auckland.
The store is a physical manifestation of Hewitt’s vision for a sanctuary in the city – a place to disconnect from the outside world and slow down the shopping experience which has been brought to life by celebrated New Zealand interior designer Katie Lockhart.
The clothing is housed with wardrobes with sliding doors, revealing only capsules of clothing at a time. Encouraging Hewitt’s ‘guests’ to shop slower and more mindfully.
Disrupting the seasonal model
A key part of the label’s realignment is Hewitt’s move to reverse Maggie Marilyn’s inventory ratio from 80% seasonal collections / 20% ‘Somewhere’ – to 95% Somewhere / 5% Forever capsules.
‘Somewhere’, is Hewitt’s line of traceable, evergreen essentials launched in 2019. With the intention to become circular, this line is designed with the ability to be recycled or composted at its end of life – a non-negotiable for Hewitt in producing accessibly priced essentials. Made from traceable organic or repurposed fibres, it is Hewitt’s aim to transition all fibres in this line to come from regeneratively farmed sources – having already visited and initiated conversations with one of New Zealand’s leading regenerative merino farms.
‘Forever’ Capsules will aesthetically reflect what we currently know as Hewitt’s ‘mainline’ or ‘seasonal collections’. They are identifiably Maggie Marilyn pieces designed to be worn seamlessly with ‘Somewhere’ yet will be tightly edited and produced in very limited runs.
Unlimited research and development periods will allow for all fibres to be traceable and organic or recycled / repurposed. Many will have the ability to be recycled, however the circularity of this line is intended to sit within repair, repurpose and resale. These special pieces are designed to be bought thoughtfully and kept forever.
In line with this inventory reversal, Hewitt has also released ‘Sport’ her second edition to ‘Somewhere’ – additions include track pants and shorts, crewneck sweaters, one shoulder singlets, blue jeans and long sleeve T-shirts all in organic cotton. Also featuring loose organic linen shirts and trousers perfect for changing seasons, as well as new neutral colour options in the wildly successful organic cotton singlets and hoodie.
Both lines will also have an extended size range, now available in UK 6 – 20.
The primary reason for this inventory reversal is that for Hewitt, the Maggie Marilyn brand requires greater scale in order to help influence the growers behind each textile source to transition to regenerative agriculture.
Simply put – for the brand’s partners to feel supported in investing in the transition to regenerative agriculture Hewitt needs to buy more from her growers, guaranteeing them a large enough portion of business. The price accessibility and resulting growth of Somewhere offers this scale.
Since ‘Somewhere’s 2019 launch Maggie Marilyn has seen a 140% revenue increase and 90% web traffic increase each quarter alongside a 95% increase in conversion rates year on year. This growth gave Hewitt the confidence that this line is where she would find scale to push forward with her goals:
- Sourcing through regenerative agriculture
- Transparency (Hewitt aims to implement block chain technology, which requires a much larger investment into raw fibres than would have been possible if Somewhere had continued only as the minority of business) ,
- Circularity (when the time comes to recycle Somewhere garments, the quantity of product needed is in the tens of thousands – although Hewitt sees industry collaboration as a key player here).
Moving forward Maggie Marilyn will also never go on sale. Hewitt is determined to shift the customer mindset away from frenzied sale shopping that devalues clothing, towards mindful, considered purchases.
She strongly disagrees with the pervasive and damaging discounting of quality goods based only on seasonality, stressing that clothing does not devalue over time or season to season.
To date, markdowns have been dictated by wholesale partners, pushing Hewitt to follow suit as not to disadvantage customers buying directly from Maggie Marilyn – another obstacle alleviated in shifting to DTC.