Exploring New Zealand and the Bay of Islands with Designer Maggie Marilyn

Wed, 13 March 2019
angela-datre-maggie-marilyn

Based in New Zealand, Maggie Marilyn’s first collection was picked up by Net-a-Porter right off the bat. A fan of frills and stripes, her eponymous label has a playful aesthetic. Yet at the heart of the brand, it’s all about sustainability. Reinvigorating the manufacturing community in her native New Zealand, Maggie ensures her collections are ethical as well as beautiful.

With an energetic youthfulness (Maggie is just 25 years old) the Bay Islander shows us around her hometown, discusses next steps for her cult brand and lets us in on her local secrets.    

Where are you from and how has that inspired you?

I am from the Bay of Islands, at the top of the North Island in New Zealand. Coming from such an idyllic place has definitely had a profound effect on my appreciation for nature.

How do you define your aesthetic?

Optimistic, feminine and empowering.  

What are you working on at the moment?

Our eighth season – our resort collection launches in November. This year I am really honing in on the lifecycle of our garments and relying on less virgin-sourced fabrics. We are working with a new denim which has 20% post-consumer waste cotton.

Does travel inspire your designs?

I travel a lot for work so I think I can’t help but be subconsciously influenced by what I am surrounded by. Going back to the Bay of Islands really inspires me. There is something in the sound of the cicada’s humming in the warm summer air, closing your eyes and seeing nothing but a warm yellow. These elements inspired our season four collection, which was driven by a strong sunshine palette.

How much of your line is produced in Auckland?

Everything bar our knitwear, which is produced in Italy due to infrastructure restrictions in New Zealand. Manufacturing in New Zealand has been vital to Maggie Marilyn’s mission from the beginning. We are supporting and growing the local manufacturing industry and feel like we are truly building a community. That’s what our industry needs – people working together to make it better.

How can brands make their production lines more transparent?

By asking more questions. It all starts by asking questions and starting a dialogue with suppliers. If you don’t like the response, find suppliers and manufacturers whose values align with your own.

What key pieces do you always pack when travelling?

It depends on where I am going. Clothing-wise, I always pack silk pyjamas and an organic-cotton hoodie for travelling, as well as one of our blazers. Our “I lead from the heart blazer” is a signature style for us and something I rarely travel without.

What’s the best way to explore Auckland?

On foot or by boat. We have a beautiful harbour and amazing islands close by. Go to Waiheke Island for the beaches and food, or head to Rangitoto Island if you’re into hiking. You can trek to the top of New Zealand’s oldest volcano – it’s dormant, don’t worry.

How should we spend 48 hours in Auckland?

Go to Waiheke for the night. There is a ferry which leaves Auckland harbour every half an hour and the journey takes 40 minutes. Waiheke has beautiful lodges to stay at and some incredible beaches and wineries – New Zealand is known for its rosé, pinot noir and chardonnay, after all. When you’re back in the city, go for dinner at Saan – they have the best cocktails and Vietnamese food. Go shopping along Ponsonby Road and scout all of New Zealand’s local designers like Karen Walker, Kate Sylvester and Juliette Hogan. I think Ponsonby has some of the best food in the world.

Where’s the best place to wake up?

The Boat Shed in Waiheke. I got engaged here and visit every year for my birthday.

Underrated spots worth a visit…

Matakana Farmers’ Market is a must. It is about a 40-minute drive out of the city and well worth it for the fresh oysters and mussel fritters. If you’re an art fan, Michael Parekowhai’s Auckland Art Gallery is one of my favourites.

What’s the city’s dress code?

Very casual. No one wears heels here – it’s trainers and flip flops with everything.

Where should we go for a big night out?

Ponsonby Road has the best food and the best bars. Mekong Baby, Prego and Ponsonby Central are all great options if you want drinks and dinner. Mea Culpa has the best cocktails in the city – the negronis are a must.

And for a pre-bedtime tipple?

Caretaker in Britomart. Order an espresso martini.

For Sunday brunch, book a table at…

Odettes Eatery is charming and sophisticated, but not to fancy. The sun pours in on the front facing tables and they make the best coffee in town.

The best design stores in Auckland?

Simon James Design and Tessuti.

For a taste of history head to…

Alberton. Visit for the art, the architecture, the interiors and the garden – and the chickens that roam freely.

A great out of town option is…

Waiheke if you don’t want to go too far. Queenstown in the South Island in New Zealand is so beautiful too.

Must-dos in the Bay of Islands?

Swimming, surfing, diving and eating fresh seafood.

A book to read before we go?

The Bone People by Keri Hulme or Zane Grey’s The Anglers El Dorado.

One place only locals know about is…

Minnehaha beach on the North Shore in Auckland.

What should we bring back as a souvenir?

Maggie Marilyn, of course! We have a showroom in Auckland where you can come and see the full collection.

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