In the heart of New York City, the buzz of anticipation surrounds the upcoming debut of Maui X Lolita’s Fall/Winter 2024 collection at the prestigious New York Fashion Week on Sunday, February 11th. As a black-owned luxury womenswear brand, Maui X Lolita (MxL) has carved a distinctive niche in the fashion industry, challenging norms and defying statistics with their bold designs and dynamic resilience.
The mother-daughter duo, Lolita and Maui Malone, have had a remarkable journey since the inception of MxL during the challenging times of the 2020 pandemic. Rising to prominence, they’ve not only graced the runways of Paris, New York, and Harlem Fashion Weeks but have also garnered attention from major publications such as Vogue UK, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, Vanity Fair, Wonderland Mag, and more.
As we eagerly await their Fall/Winter ’24 collection, titled “Modern Rebellion,” Lolita Malone, the head designer and matriarch of MxL, walks us through the inspiration behind the theme. Rooted in Lolita’s background in Finance and corporate aesthetics, the collection challenges traditional fashion norms with non-typical, gender-bending cuts. “Modern Rebellion” is a celebration of the working woman, encapsulating outfits that adhere to dress codes while pushing the boundaries of individuality and flair.
The expansion into accessories marks a significant milestone for MxL, featuring Moroccan leather handbags and a captivating line of fragrances sourced with Moroccan essential oils. Their Summer 2023 trip to Marrakech served as the catalyst for these additions, with each fragrance named after MxL’s legacy products – Empress, Goddess, Eden, and Regality. The fragrances offer a sensorial journey with notes ranging from oud, patchouli, and sandalwood to floral-rose, amber, and vanilla, reflecting the diverse facets of the Fly Girl archetype that MxL embodies.
Beyond their stunning designs, Maui X Lolita is committed to fostering diversity and education in the fashion industry. Actively engaging with fellow minority creatives, from models to photographers, the duo has established partnerships and mentorship programs. Lolita’s upcoming talk at Buffalo State University reflects their dedication to sharing insights on sustainability, the challenges faced by Black-owned brands, and the path to success in 2024.
As we look forward to witnessing MxL’s runway magic at NYFW, it’s evident that Maui X Lolita is not just a fashion brand; it’s a movement, a beacon of inspiration for aspiring designers and a testament to the transformative power of creativity, resilience, and a commitment to breaking barriers in the ever-evolving world of fashion.
Maui X Lolita Interview with The House
The theme of your upcoming Fall/Winter 2024 collection is ‘Modern Rebellion.’ Can you take us into a deep dive into the inspiration behind this theme and how it translates into the designs, especially with the inclusion of non-typical, gender-bending cuts? How do you see your designs challenging traditional fashion norms and encouraging a sense of rebellion in women’s fashion?
Maui: For this collection, we were heavily inspired by my experience in Finance and the overall business world. I graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a degree in Finance, and while I was in school, I found myself looking into the ‘corporate baddie’ aesthetics we see online and in real life. As nice as some outfits were, the overall looks were old school in a sense; very safe and traditional. We’ve always considered the working woman, or person, the kind of individual we liked to design for. Lolita and I wanted to take those typical corporate looks and turn them into something that challenged the workplace. Outfits that adhere to dress codes, but push the boundaries of how fly you could be on the clock. Our slogan ‘For Fly Girls Only’ means our brand is for those who want to stand out in the crowd, not blend in. This collection challenges those traditional fashion norms by taking corporate fashion and turning it on its head, hence its name “Modern Rebellion.” For a look at some corporate looks we’ve already designed, see our FW23 collection.
As a Black-owned luxury brand, you’ve experienced significant success in a relatively short period. How did you navigate any challenges you have faced and break through the statistics that suggest only 4% of Black-owned companies survive beyond 3.5 years? What advice would you give to aspiring Black entrepreneurs in the fashion industry? Are there any resources you would like us to share with our readers?
Maui: Well, having a successful business requires a strong intention to learn as fast as possible, which can often translate to failing as fast as possible. To make it past the statistics, you need to make mistakes first in order to learn and grow from them. This company has gone through many changes in our short few years of operation, but we stand strong in our early place in the industry because of our work ethic, working chemistry, creativity, and most importantly, resilience.
The addition of Moroccan leather handbags and three new fragrances to your collection is an exciting expansion. How did your Summer 2023 trip to Marrakech influence the creation of these accessories, and what can we expect from the fragrances in terms of notes and inspirations?
Maui: My mom surprised me with a joint trip to Morocco after I graduated college, and it was the most amazing trip! Traveling through the souks everyday, we were inundated with their beautiful culture but of course, naturally we both tended to focus the most on the unique fashion and style throughout the country. There was no shortage of jewelry, handbags, and dress shops. Walking past a shop selling various leathers, of course we (and mostly Lolita as head designer) were intrigued. We left that shop with a plan to make handbags, which didn’t have a timeline initially, but we are so excited for their debut at the show. As for the fragrances, Moroccan scents were some of the best and most potent we’ve ever smelled, which inspired us to introduce them into the Fly Girl lineup, Lolita was the main chemist on this project as a long-time parfum lover, combining the original formulas that contained notes of rose, citrus, vanilla, and musk, with each named after MxL legacy products, Eden, Goddess, and Empress.
Sustainability is a key aspect of your brand, and Lolita, you’ll be speaking at Buffalo State University on the subject. Can you share insights into how Maui X Lolita approaches sustainability in the fashion industry, and what steps you believe are crucial for the future of sustainable fashion?
Lolita: Sustainability for us means producing in small batches. Maui and I knew we were going to follow this model from the beginning of MxL, and we’re glad we’ve stuck to it. So much harm to the planet comes from the rapid cycle of “buy-and-get-rid-of” we see with fast fashion. By lowering our inventory, we’re keeping our production as close as possible to the demand. This way we don’t have excess product and material sitting around, we’re not contributing to the awful carbon footprint fast fashion creates, and our Fly Girls feel more exclusive when they wear our clothes. For fashion to become truly sustainable again, fast fashion needs to become unpopular and investing in higher quality, long lasting pieces needs to be the norm.
The fashion industry is often criticized for its lack of diversity. How do you actively foster relationships with fellow minority creatives, from models to photographers, and what initiatives does Maui X Lolita undertake to mentor and support up-and-coming fashion creatives?
Lolita: As two Black women, Maui and I have made it important to surround ourselves with others like us. Our PR team is run by a Black woman, the lawyer we work with is a Black woman, our main photographer is Korean, and so on. We have also employed interns from FIT and have put focus on helping young designers get their start while in school. I’m also doing my speech at BSU soon, and we hope to develop a relationship with their fashion department moving forward, as well as extend our reach to fashion students all over. It’s all about paying it forward for us at MxL, and we make sure to be the change we want to see in the fashion industry.
Your partnership with Buffalo State University showcases your commitment to education and mentorship. What do you hope students take away from your discussion on sustainability, the challenges faced by Black-owned brands, and leading a successful fashion brand in 2024?
Lolita: I hope they take away the confidence and the drive to fully go after what they want. If they’ve always wanted to start a brand, I hope they start sketching that night. I hope my words inspire them to take action, and understand that with their innate creativity coupled with perseverance, they can achieve anything they want in this industry.
Your fragrances, named after legacy products, seem to capture the essence of MxL’s journey. Can you share how each fragrance reflects a different facet of your brand’s identity and legacy?
Lolita: The fragrances all in all represent our Fly Girl archetype. She’s bold, fearless, and ambitious. However, she is still sweet and playful. We want all three scents to embody the nature of the Fly Girl. As mentioned before, the scents have notes of rose, vanilla, musk, citrus, as well as oud. For us, each unique blend is its own take on the Fly Girl, with a little something for everyone.
With appearances at Paris, New York, and Harlem Fashion weeks, along with features in major publications, what have been some standout moments or milestones for Maui X Lolita in the past year, and how do you plan to build on this momentum in the upcoming year?
Maui: Aside from all the wonderful publications that have highlighted us, I want to shed light on our SS24 show this past September. This was our first independently produced fashion show, and the result was excellent. I am very excited for everyone to see what this season, our very first Fall/Winter showcase, brings to the table and the industry. We took notes from last season, building momentum to independently produce our show again, and this time around, we’re doing something different and a bit innovative and we cannot wait to show you all!
The fashion industry is known for its fast-paced nature. How do you balance staying true to your brand’s essence while adapting to evolving trends and consumer expectations?
Lolita: It’s alright to follow some trends and have fun with what’s popular every once in a while. We can do that, and you’ll see in this new collection with our indigo stockings, we’re following a current trend right there. But the key is to blend your brand’s unique and consistent aesthetics with whatever you’re doing that’s trendy. Trends come and go, but your brand value and creative approach to fashion will stick around. Every day we’re further curating the brand look of MxL, so eventually, anyone would be able to point out a piece by Maui X Lolita.