Mara Hoffman founded her eponymous label in 2000 directly after graduating from Parsons School of Design in New York City. The lifestyle brand, encompassing Women’s Ready to Wear, Swimwear, Chidrenswear, Bridal and Active, is known for its signature prints and silhouettes, coupled with its intentional use of color. Hoffman, also the company’s President and Creative Director, ultimately takes inspiration from her own travels around the world and is a true, living embodiment of her designs. Headquartered in New York City with her close-knit team, Hoffman believes strongly in mindful and conscious practices, which are at the crux of the company’s ethos.
You have been making such a splash in the fashion world! How did it all start for you?
It was inevitable to myself, and those who knew me well from a very early age, that I would have a future in fashion. I started making clothing from the time I was eight years old; I created pieces for my dolls and made a skirt with about 26 buttons sewn onto it for my mother’s birthday, which she so graciously wore for the entire night of her party. The summer after my graduation from Parsons, I started a one-of- a-kind line consisting of hand-made pieces, which I called Circle by Mara Hoffman. The fabrics were all hand-dyed batik, and I did everything myself from start to finish. It was an earthy, ceremonial collection with blessings tied in. That same summer I also ended up meeting Patricia Field at a friend’s consignment shop, who famously styled all of Sex in the City. She liked what I was wearing and ended up buying everything that I had on me to sell. A few days later, the buyer for her stores came over to my apartment and placed an order that would ultimately put me “in business.” It has been a challenging, excitement-filled journey, but what I have learned and gained throughout the years has been beyond my wildest imagination. Despite the 16 years that I’ve dedicated to growing and evolving this brand and vision, I still feel like I’m just at the beginning.
What led you to focus and create such wonderful, fashion forward, and vibrant swimsuits? For you, what makes a great swimsuit?
I love that women are a little more experimental in the way that they approach swimwear. Swim tends to be seen and treated more as an accessory for the body so women can be more playful with it, and embrace color and print more. A great swimsuit is one that interacts well with the body and makes you feel comfortable and confident.
What are your sources of inspiration?
My main points of inspiration are travel, textiles and all elements of nature. I also use the female form as a huge point of inspiration for creating different silhouettes and shapes.
Your swimsuit collections have garnered a lot of praise and can be seen on notable celebrities. What is your philosophy for designing a great swimsuit?
My philosophy is to always have the body in mind and an awareness that swimwear is much more of an emotional buy for women than say, ready-to-wear. A swimsuit is the most revealing article of clothing a woman will wear in public so the purchase is personal. As a designer, you have to create pieces that will fit and flatter different women, and make them feel comfortable and confident in their skin.
What is your favorite piece from your collection for summer 2016?
It’s tough to choose just one! From our Spring’16 Ready-to-Wear line, I’m really in love with the pieces that draw inspiration from the planet, specifically the Clouds, Birds, and Stars groups. From our Spring Swim’16 collection, my favorites live within our rainbow Prismatic Crochet, Leaf, and Flora groups.
What is your go-to pool side or beach playlist?
Lots of reggae, Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, The Rolling Stones, Willie Nelson, and Nina Simone.
Name three things no woman should be without when rocking one of your swimsuits.
Sunblock, water, and a cover-up – protect and hydrate!
What are your tips for finding the perfect swimsuit that works for your body?
The biggest focuses should be on fit and accentuating your assets. Find something that hugs your figure in all the right places and supports well, but ultimately it’s whatever makes you feel good.
Your swimsuits are adored by so many women who come from different walks. Who is your target audience?
It’s hard to say that we have one specific target audience since I think we appeal to a broad spectrum of women of various age groups and backgrounds. I think one common factor in the women wearing our pieces is that they have a general passion for travel and health, which is what our brand represents.
What can the industry and consumers expect to see in your next swimsuit collection?
A continuous evolution of our silhouettes and prints. That said, outside of the aesthetic, the most exciting thing to me about this swimsuit collection are the eco-conscious initiatives we put in place in selecting lower-impact fabrics and focusing on better production processes.
What is beautiful to you?
Beautiful is confidence, honesty, kindness, and a strong sense of self and purpose.