EVOLUTION, AT ITS BASE, DENOTES THE GRADUAL DEVELOPMENT OF SOMETHING OR SOMEONE FROM A SIMPLE TO MORE COMPLEX STATE. ACCORDING TO CHARLES DARWIN, THIS PROGRESSION IS IMPERATIVE — THE FITTER SURVIVE, THE FRAIL DIE. OVER A CENTURY LATER, TUPAC SHAKUR ECHOED THE NATURALIST’S VIEW. “WE’RE MADE TO GROW. YOU EITHER EVOLVE OR DISAPPEAR,” THE ARTIST PROCLAIMED NOT LONG BEFORE HIS PASSING. THAT TUPAC’S LEGACY HASN’T DIMMED, LET ALONE DISAPPEARED, SINCE HIS DEATH DEMONSTRATES EVOLUTION’S INHERENT MOMENTUM. ONCE INSTIGATED, IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO STOP.
Womenswear designer Mara Hoffman is banking on this propulsive premise. After founding her namesake brand 16 years ago, using a simple sourcing and manufacturing model, Mara became increasingly aware of the fashion industry’s socio-ecological impact. This knowledge prompted an evolved company ethos dedicated to manufacturing with responsibility and care. Introduced in Mara’s Resort 2017 collection, the complex code features fabrics selected for their sustainable properties and regularly vetted production practices, which include working with artisans in India to create sustainable employment that is socially and environmentally responsible, with a focus on women and a progressively better future.
DESCRIBE YOUR BUSINESS PHILOSOPHY?
Make beautiful things with intention and with care that aren’t redundant and that actually serve a purpose in the world, even if that purpose is to make people feel beautiful or to shift an existing state of feeling.
HOW DO YOU DEFINE SUCCESS, BEYOND THE BOTTOM LINE?
Happiness, always happiness. Success is feeling that I am creating really good things, feeling that the people around me are happy, that I’m able to provide for the people within my company and within my family.
HOW DO YOU DEFINE "SUSTAINABLE?"
For me, sustainable means creating something with the least amount of harm, with longevity, so that there’s less of a need for more of it.
WHERE YOUR CLOTHES COME FROM
A PERFECT STYLE MOMENT
YOUR FIRST COLLECTION
A CHARACTER YOU WOULD LOVE TO DRESS
A SONG THAT'S ON REPEAT AT YOUR STUDIO
WHAT IS SOMETHING PEOPLE DON'T KNOW ABOUT YOUR BRAND?
I think that sometimes people forget that I’ve been at this for 16 years, through a lot of ups and downs and a few different reincarnations. I also think it’s worth saying that we’re 99% women in this company and that makes me really proud.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT HAVING YOUR BUSINESS IN NEW YORK CITY?
The accessibility. I find New York City to be one of the most accessible cities in the world. You can make your samples here, do production here, find fabric, and find really talented and creative people to work with.
A MOOD BOARD FROM YOUR CURRENT COLELCTION
A FAVORITE SONG FROM THE YEAR YOU OPENED YOUR BUSINESS
WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE YOU'VE FACED AS A BUSINESSWOMAN?
As a businessperson, the biggest challenges have been maintaining an independently run company and riding the ebbs and flows of that, usually on a financial level. Another challenge can be pushing out creativity when your more natural state of being would be to go inward and create internally. There’s a continual need to keep putting work out there in our business, and it can be a big challenge sometimes to keep up with that level of output.
WHAT IS THE BEST BUSINESS ADVICE YOU'VE RECEIVED?
It’s about finding a point of view, standing out and having a perspective of your own because everything else is already out there. I’m sure we’re not reinventing the wheel, but we are speaking from a particular point of view that is our own and that we believe in.
A SONG THAT REPRESENTS YOUR LOCAL COMMUNITY
A FILM THAT HAS INFLUENCED A COLLECTION
AN ARTIST YOU ADMIRE
YOUR CURRENT COLLECTION
WHAT ABOUT THE FASHION INDUSTRY NEEDS TO CHANGE?
I would say, first and foremost, our manufacturing processes need to change. The harm we put on the environment, human harm and social harm need to change. Number two would be the pace of the industry; we need to slow down and give people the opportunity to relearn value in clothing — to own less and care more.
SHARE A QUOTE THAT EMBODIES YOUR BUSINESS ETHOS.
“Don’t push, pull.
To be interesting, be interested.”
from You are a Message by Guillaume Wolf, ‘Prof. G’
WHERE WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE YOUR BUSINESS IN FIVE YEARS?
I don’t have this specific vision for five years out, but five years ago, I think I would’ve said I’d like to be here. There’s so much change on a world level and so much change that I’m experiencing internally that I don’t think I could tell you exactly where I want to be in five years. I know I want to be happy. I want to be creating, to be making beautiful things in some way or another and to be making others happy.
A SONG THAT EMBODIES YOUR BRAND
A PICTURE HANGING ON THE WALL OF YOUR STUDIO
A SONG THAT MOTIVATES YOU
A GREAT SPEECH