It might be early to call designer Maggy Frances Schultz a bonafide garmento. But seams seem to run in the 24-year-old's genes, as the progeny of a mother who was Mickey Drexler’s right-hand-woman at GAP, and a father who co-founded Urban Outfitters.
Despite her parents’ Garment District backgrounds, they initially disavowed Maggy from joining the retail industry (“maybe because it’s a tough industry”) but this independent thinker pressed on, launching her first collection of pattern-focused, sharply tailored basics earlier this year.
Skater dresses, equestrian blazers with British side-venting, hotpants, and miniskirts cut up to here, Schultz’s specialty is in the mix and match. Having begun her career in fashion as a stylist, you can see a merchandiser’s eye in the picks: the pieces are versatile, designed to fill in those essential “white space” gaps in your closet.
We spoke to Maggy to learn more how this young designer started her business and that time she proved Mickey Drexler wrong.
What inspired you to create the line? The general idea came about when I was working as a fashion assistant while still a student at NYU. I needed clothing that was easy and versatile to accommodate a very fast-paced but also varied lifestyle. I wanted chic separates that I could wear to run around on set, attend meetings or classes and then go out at night. Working for stylists was particularly inspiring because you get to be around the most amazing clothes, but at the same time, the nature of the job makes you acutely aware of how un-wearable most of them are.
I started customizing vintage clothes, and having things custom-made by a tailor. People were stopping me on the street to ask me where I got the simplest things, like a camel blazer, or a simple mini skirt. After that, I realized I had something.
Since they are in the business, how did your parents react when you told them you wanted to start your own line? They were supportive. My parents have always encouraged me to be independent and do my own thing. They’ve known that I've been interested in fashion since I was a child. They joke that I’m the one who's giving them the advice.
What the thing that made you finally descide to go for it? After I quit my job as a fashion assistant, I tagged along on a trip to China with some friends of friends. I was there for two weeks, which gave me a bit of time to figure out what I was going to do next. I visited a tailor in Hong Kong and had some initial prototypes made to get a sense of what might actually work. By the time I got back, I had a fully-formed concept.
Coming from a fashion background, was it difficult to understand the business component of launching your own line? I had some friends from Stanford Business School who talked me through a lot of things in the beginning. They mostly had finance or consulting backgrounds, but they all agreed that the first thing you need in starting a business is vision, which I always felt confident about. Their advice is what encouraged me to start out lean and online, versus in retail. So being that your mom worked with Mickey Drexler—you must have some cool stories to share. When I was younger, I traveled a lot with my mom. And, we might need to verify her side of the story, but when I was about nine, I went with her to the Gap headquarters in San Francisco. I sat in on a meeting where the kids design team was presenting the whole collection to Mickey. They were asking for his opinion, like, do you want Option A or Option B, in terms of merchandising these girls shirts. And I got up and stood on a chair and said, “I want Option B.”
How did Mickey react? He's really good with kids, so he just laughed and continued on with the presentation.
Did he end up going with your choice? No, he ended up choosing Option A. But, my mom told me later, supposedly, that my Option B was the one they should have gone with! So there you go.
Click through to see Maggy's spring collection.