16 Year Old Fashion Designer Maggie Weible ’22

Maggie Weible ’22 describes her experiences, inspiration, and journey as a young fashion designer.

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Mason Herp, Contributor

Maggie Weible is a Junior at Bishop O’Dowd High School and has been busy designing and sewing everything from dresses to skirts to jeans. Maggie posts photos of her work on an Instagram page called “@xo___mae.” Her sewing skills go back to when she was five years old and her grandmother taught her. Her first practice came from sewing small quilts and embroidering her favorite stuffed animals. From there, it took about a year for her to get interested in sewing clothes, which came from her experience with modeling, ballet, and acting. She describes, “Whether it was acting or ballet, I noticed how much the costume transformed me into my character. I view clothes as real-life costumes; the clothes you wear represent the character in your mind.” This mindset is what drives Maggie to create clothes. She was also captivated and inspired by the creative directors, photographers, and designers on set when she was modeling or acting. She feels lucky to have been around those people. 

However, Maggie has come a long way since quilts and stuffed animals and feels that she has improved a lot in her abilities. Her pieces are of better quality than what is found with fast fashion brands, like GAP and H&M. She attributes this to the fabric she uses. Most fabrics used in fast fashion are often polyester, rayon, or nylon, which rip a lot easier than the cotton and higher-quality fabrics that she uses.

Maggie explains that her greatest challenge has been “[being] able to come up with ideas but struggling to execute them.” Making each piece of clothing is time-consuming, and the type of material mostly determines the length of time. She explained that a cotton fabric dress will take her a few hours, whereas a piece made out of a heavier fabric, like leather, can take a lot longer. This is because heavy fabrics will break most sewing machines, so each stitch has to be done by hand. Although these projects are a time dump, they very are cost-efficient. Maggie gets most of her fabric from the flea market, thrift stores, or even the side of the road. In some cases, she actually is able to make money off of her projects, when people pay her a commission to alter their clothes. She also sells some of the clothes on websites such as Depop, Mercari, eBay, Craigslist, Poshmark, and Etsy.

The clothes that Maggie is not selling, she wears. She says, “Wearing clothes I have made feels really good. I love that in such a huge world where individually it is easy to feel small and insignificant I have the ability to say that I’m wearing something no one else has.”

Maggie’s inspiration for her pieces comes from her own experiences as well as runway fashion. She explained that ballet, the music she listens to, and the movies she has watched have all had an influence on her work. She also stated that much of her inspiration comes from memories of her mom. Maggie states, “I grew up stealing her leather jackets and heels. She would give me old magazines and we would watch Project Runway together.” 

Maggie feels that it is important to study the history of fashion and experiment with different styles. She says, “The history of fashion is huge and if you focus on only a fraction of it you will close yourself off to so many cool moments.” Styles that she is particularly attracted to are Haute Couture, a luxury custom-fitted style that emphasizes expression, and avant-garde, a style with an emphasis on experimentation and breaking norms. Some runway designers that Maggie is inspired by are Audrey Hepburn, specifically her work with Givenchy, Maison Margiela, and Betsey Johnson, especially her work in the ’90s. Maggie’s awareness of these designers and their work from specific time frames exemplifies her knowledge of fashion throughout history and the way this shapes her designs.

Maggie believes that the greatest gift that humans have is their thoughts and the individuality of those thoughts. She put this into words, stating, “I really feel that thought is the greatest gift and it’s so cool that no human thinks the same. We are so small and insignificant but our own thoughts and experience make us unique and if we don’t embrace that uniqueness and act on it, share it, create with it, we have no individual purpose. so I guess that our creation is our legacy.” These are deep thoughts for a 16-year-old, but there is a lot of truth in them.

The latest piece Maggie has been working on is one that her grandmother had started before she passed away. This brings a lot of her work full circle, as her fashion design began with her grandmother’s mentorship.

There is a lot to come of Maggie Weible’s work. To continue watching it, follow her on Instagram: @xo___mae.