How designer Maggie Marilyn is paving the way for mindful manufacturing.
The production of fabric is a major factor in the fashion industry’s role in environmental degradation, with silk and cotton particularly demonised for how much water they require in comparison to synthetic alternatives. But a few of our favourite designers, including Maggie Hewitt of Maggie Marilyn, are committed to exploring ways to make these natural fibres more ethical and eco-friendly.
Back in 2019, her New Zealand-based label - widely loved for its elegant wardrobe staples and planet-positive ethos - launched its Season 7 High Summer collection crafted predominately from recycled, repurposed and low-impact fabrics. These included organic cotton, linen and a new-to-market, fully biodegradable fibre derived from rose petals which mimics the feel and drape of silk. While these pieces received much acclaim, Maggie was determined to grow and improve upon the brand’s supply chain. She began experimenting with ’peace silk’ - a non-violent silk breeding and harvesting method which allows the life cycle from silkworm to butterfly to be completed. However, after noting that the fabric was flawed, she wrote off the entire production run, refusing to compromise on quality and materials that wouldn’t stand the test of time.
Today, Maggie continues to strive for best practice and greater accountability. While continuing her mission to find an exceptional silk alternative that will still appeal to consumers, she’s developed a meaningful personal connection with Mr Shen - a supplier based out of Jiangsu, China, who has been ethically producing silk for over 40 years. Not only is his fabric organically grown and woven, dyed and printed in-house, but he reinvests the majority of his profits back into his village, paying proper living wages and making crucial, educational resources more accessible to the local community.
“I simply cannot turn a blind eye,” Maggie says. “I believe it is my responsibility to do better than those before me.”
“Of course, I want to produce clothing that enriches the lives of the customer, but for me to want to be any part of this industry, my clothing also has to enrich the lives of the people involved in my textile and garment production as well.”