French label Maje opens here

From far left: Maje's oversized Eagle poncho, Rabata dress and fringed Jawa leather skirt from its current collection.
From far left: Maje's oversized Eagle poncho, Rabata dress and fringed Jawa leather skirt from its current collection.PHOTOS: MAJE

Popular French womenswear label Maje has opened its first flagship store here at The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands.

The brand, launched in 1998 by Moroccan-born Frenchwoman Judith Milgrom, has a following for its romantic, bohemian look.

The 139 sq m store, which opened on Oct 8, carries the full Fall/ Winter 2015 ready-to-wear range, along with bags, footwear and fashion jewellery. Prices range from $180 for a T-shirt to $5,450 for a raccoon fur coat.

In an e-mail interview with Life, Ms Milgrom, who declines to reveal her age, says that she gets her inspiration from women on the streets of Paris.

She analyses their style, taking into consideration all aspects of a woman's life from work to family. "I try to create outfits that remain elegant yet comfortable in all circumstances."

She started Maje (pronounced mah-jay) after working for her sister Evelyne, who started another well-known Parisian label, Sandro, in 1984.

Ms Milgrom decided to start her own label after nine years with the brand. "I needed to express my love for fashion, design and craftsmanship through my own collections and allow every woman to follow trends affordably."

She cites the fringed Jawa leather skirt ($810) and oversized Magrit, Mexico and Eagle ponchos ($410 - $1,160) as must-have items from Maje's current collection.

One of the season's best-selling items is the Rabata dress ($570).

Maje and Sandro are both owned by SMCP, the company that Ms Milgrom and her sister set up in 2010. SMCP stands for the brands Sandro, Maje and Claudie Pierlot. Claudie Pierlot was bought over by the company in 2009.

Ms Milgrom admits that she did not think her label would be as successful as it has been - the brand opened its first store at the 6th arrondissement, Paris' most fashionable and expensive district, barely a year after it was launched.

It now has 380 stores worldwide, with Ms Milgrom identifying Singapore as a key part of the Asian market. There are 61 stores in Asia directly managed by SMCP Asia in Hong Kong, China and Macau; the most recent being the Marina Bay Sands store here.

Through Maje, Ms Milgrom is glad to be "promoting France and a French fashion brand on an international level", despite fierce competition from more affordable fast-fashion brands such as H&M from Sweden and Zara from Spain.

She believes women are willing to pay more for her brand because of her attention to detail, and how it uses fabrics not commonly used by mass market brands, such as leather and lace.

As for keeping Maje relevant in the face of fast fashion?

Ms Milgrom says the secret is in sticking to a true Parisian aesthetic.

She says: "I hope we can keep developing to make Maje and French fashion known worldwide."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 29, 2015, with the headline 'French label Maje opens here'. Print Edition | Subscribe