Twenty-four-year-old Maggie Hewitt hails from Kerikeri in the Bay of Islands and describes herself as a country girl at heart. At 17, she moved to Auckland to study at a BFA majoring in Fashion at Whitecliffe, but her fashion journey started at 13 when she was at boarding school. “I was extremely homesick; almost every day after school I would walk to the newsstand and buy a fashion magazine whether it was Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, or Glamour,” explained Hewitt. “Reading these magazines was an amazing escape for me, this was when my true love affair with fashion and luxury fashion houses started.” The summer before her degree started, Hewitt taught herself how to sew and made a t-shirt. “My parents would have been shaking their heads, but they made me believe I could do anything.” Coming from an entrepreneurial family, Hewitt had a lot of business advice and support from her father. She added that she was lucky enough to have friends and family around her that believed in her so much. “That gave me the confidence to start it.” Hewitt always knew she wanted to do something creative and was quickly consumed by the fashion world and the dream. “I always knew I wanted to be a designer.”
Hewitt’s designs are never something super literal; she starts with a film that inspired her or an artist. “For me, it’s always designing for the girl, and what she wants and what she needs in her everyday life.” Adding that she is inspired by who she aspires to be paired with a sense of lightness and optimism. Through her designs, she wants to empower customers and let them know they can go out and change the world.
An enormous part of the brand is their ethical and sustainable mission. Manufacturing in New Zealand is essential to Hewitt. The only exception being their knitwear made in Italy. “I knew I wanted to be an international brand, but I love New Zealand, and it is such an important part of who I am and the DNA of the brand.” Hewitt’s next dream is to have bases all around the globe, but until then New Zealand is home. “There are definitely pros and cons to being so isolated, but I am determined to make it work.” Being an international brand and a proud New Zealander go hand in hand for Hewitt. She knew if she was going to be a big international brand that she wanted to be, she had to contribute something to the community she lived in. In the late 1980s, the manufacturing community in New Zealand almost completely vanished. “We used to have big brands like Levi’s made in New Zealand, and that was a really prosperous industry for the country,” she said. “Those makers still live and work in New Zealand, and we are dedicated to continuing working with them.”
Her most significant accomplishment to date was being picked up by Saks Fifth Avenue, as well as many incredible milestones along the way. Social media has been a massive tool regarding connecting and reaching a wider audience. It has allowed Hewitt and her team to get to know the people who love the brand on a personal level. “And that’s so valuable for brands like us who don’t get to see our customers every day.”
Describing her style as a love affair with colour; Hewitt’s style is never too dainty or pretty but designed with strong femininity.
Hewitt advises other young designers looking to pursue their dreams to follow your gut. “It is always right,” she said. “There are a lot of people who will want to have an opinion, after all, we are in a creative industry – but stay true to yourself and follow your gut.”