By: Joseph Licata
Marissa Maximo, the Director of Brand Partnerships and Special Projects at Urban Outfitters, is as multifaceted as her title suggests. One of those facets, a magnificent textile designer who’s latest project ANAAK – a women’s line of simple, gauzy pieces that will look as good at home in bed as they will on your next trip to PR – is worth writing home about.
The fabrics are made in collaboration with WomensWeave Charitable Trust, an all women’s hand loom weaving cooperative that aims to create better lives for women by making hand looming profitable, fulfilling, sustainable and dignified for women in India. And each piece is hand made in a factory outside of New Delhi, that’s owned and run by twin sisters, whom Ms Maximo has been friends with for over 10 years, and that monitor every detail of the production process to ensure its integrity. So in each beautiful piece of clothing you’re supporting the future of a unique aspect of India’s heritage that has been around since the 5th century, while empowering women to take control of their own futures. Something truly worthy sharing in.
Marissa sat down with Surf Collective to share her inspiration for the line, the items she can’t travel without and where she just might buy a one-way ticket to someday.
Surf Collective: Tell me about the ANAAK. When did inspiration hit to do something on you own?
Marissa Maximo: I’ve traveled for years for work, and wanted to weave my travels into a more tangible and intimate kind of story. The lightbulb moment was last December, on a solo vacation to India. I found myself intensely scouring hot, overcrowded markets for just the right shade of neon fabric and intricate handmade trims. I realized then that I needed to create my own line. That began the dream of Anaak—to design handmade pieces inspired by my far-flung getaways to Bhutan, India, Indonesia and Mexico. I travel to India and collaborate with artisans to make every style. It’s a beautiful process, and gives back so much to their communities.
SC: When can we expect the line in stores? Where can we find it?
MM: The first collection will launch in select stores this February: Bird in Brooklyn, Warm in Nolita, Cloth in Fort Greene, Juniper in Seattle and Rebecca Beach in Honolulu, Hawaii.
SC: With the lines bohemian style elements, you must travel to some interesting places…what are some of the perfect places for breaking in a few of your styles?
MM: Each piece is designed to be breathable and packable, kind of throw-on-and go. If I had to choose a few places to wear the collection I’d start with San Pancho, Mexico, Ubud, Bali or Val d’Orcia in Tuscany.
SC: When traveling, what are your must pieces? What can’t you leave without?
MM: I’m often on the go, migrating between cities and rustic areas so an easy, versatile wardrobe is essential. I really can’t live without the Alessia peasant dress from the collection. It’s the perfect beach cover-up but also works well for a dinner out—it’s all in how you accessorize it.
I also cannot travel without my gouache paints, brushes, sketchbook, and camera. Painting helps me take in the surroundings through a different lens and perspective.
SC: If you had to buy a one way ticket to anywhere in the world and never leave that place, where would that be?
MM: It is tough to just pick one place in the world to never leave because I crave both the hustle and fast pace of urban settings and quiet, calming natural environments, but if I had to choose just one I would say India. Though I have been traveling to India for 14 years, it always feels new because there is so much to learn about the country and its varied, complex culture. Anaak is predominately produced there, and I would like to spend more time working with the artisans on a daily basis and travel to many more regions.
SC: I always say there is the place you live and the place you consider “home”…Where is home?
MM: I currently live in Philadelphia, but often work in New York or Los Angeles. Philadelphia became my base soon after college and graduate school, when I began working at Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters. But as I grow Anaak and continue to travel, I think “home” is yet to be discovered.