Post Magazine

Why French fashion brand Maje looks to Asia for inspiration, 20 years after being founded in Paris

Why did you launch Maje? "After working for my sister, Evelyne [Chetrite, who founded Sandro, in 1989], I had a very clear idea of what I wanted to do in ready-to-wear: to create a brand and lifestyle, showcased in its own store, offering clothes that could follow a woman through a day made of different moments " working (or not), taking care of the kids, going out for a drink or a date."

Why go for affordable luxury? "I've always been fascinated by houses that have both the know-how and means to push craftsmanship to the next level. But I wanted to make my work accessible. At the time, affordable brands with a creative outlook didn't really exist. Women were shy with fashion. I wanted to offer stylish, trendy clothes that proved you could wear a floaty, floral dress and work in, say, a law firm. Luxury is about clothing designed with passion, but also about good service, whether someone buys or just browses. I'm very proud to have been among the first to go down that route."

Who is the Maje woman? "A woman who evolves but remains bold, fashionable and dares to experiment. She's not defined by her age but by a state of mind. I've always been interested in helping women be daring in their style. Look at Asian women: they learn fashion very fast, so they mix their influences, trends and what they love with much more freedom. It fits with what we've been doing at Maje from the beginning.

"When I visited Beijing recently for our [20th] anniversary celebration, I was delighted to meet influencers like Nana Ou-yang, the face of our anniversary spring and fall 2018 campaign for Asia, who were mixing and matching our pieces in ways I hadn't even imagined."

What are your proudest achievements? "Having built a team that went from five to more than 2,000 people, forming a family united with a common energy. I launched the brand with my siblings [sister, Evelyne, and brother, Alain Moyal] so when things got tough, we supported, understood, motivated each other. There's trust. That stayed in the company. Seeing the brand go international is another. When I go to Hong Kong, where we [have been] sold since 2011, or Beijing, I feel like a kid that has managed to create a super Lego."

Ou-yang in a look from the 20th anniversary collection.

What are your plans for the next 20 years? "I want to see how people really live, what makes them happy. There are revolutions in why, how and when we buy clothes. Fashion is about seeing society as it is and creating things to wear now. My hope is that brands will be able to reinvent the industry " if we stay careless and blinkered, we'll be obsolete and wearing uniforms."

This article originally appeared on the South China Morning Post (SCMP).

Copyright (c) 2018. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

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