Skip to content
FREE STANDARD SHIPPING within Australia for orders over $200, and Int'l orders over $500 ✨ ✨ Enjoy FREE STANDARD SHIPPING within Australia for orders over $200, and for International orders over $500 ✨
June 27, 2024

MAIIKE | Meet Aly Peel

MAIIKE | Meet Aly Peel

She fooled us into thinking that all she made were toys - beautiful, heirloom koalas and foxes and octopi. Soft things. And then we discovered what she was making in clothing -!

Meet Aly Peel - the artisan behind some of the most detailed, precisely constructed garments you’ll ever have the pleasure of wearing. What stands out about Maiike is the carefully sourced fabrics and the sentiment that each finished piece brings out of us. Joy.

We’re thrilled to feature Ally’s work as part of Mrs Woo 20th Anniversary Showcase.

 

MRS WOO: When did you launch Maiike? Can you give us a bit of a background story on how it all began?

ALY: Maiike started in 1999.  And it wasn’t even my idea!  My brother approached me about starting a clothing label together.  We jumped in head first with not much experience.  He made all the patterns and sewed the samples, I chose the fabrics and kind of put the ‘collection’ together.  I had been learning screenprinting at the time and incorporated print right from our very first collection.

It wasn’t too long before my focus on textiles overtook my love of fashion and Maiike became a vehicle for exploring colour, texture and emotion.  Maiike evolved from a clothing brand to soft toys and homewares and now back to clothing but the consistent thread throughout the journey has been the hands of the maker.

MRS WOO: There’s a playful yet timeless feel to the garments you make, but also the toys. Perhaps it’s how en pointe the composition of colours, choice of fabrics, shapes, proportions… and no two are the same. Where does all this love and creativity come from?

ALY: I sometimes wonder about how much the things we are exposed to as children impact our adult lives.  I grew up in the bush with three brothers and lots of freedom to make and break at will.  Mum and dad are both creatives and were teachers in the creative arts at our local high school.

At home, our studio area was probably bigger than our house.  We could use the pottery wheel, welding torch, build tree houses, maybe some leather work but my favourite thing to do on the weekend was to hang out with mum in her studio making clothes.  She had a trunk full of fabric offcuts and for me it was like a treasure box.  I rummaged through it regularly.  I only recently confessed to having taken a small piece of patterned hot pink Indian silk and kept it hidden in my jewellery box all these years.  

We had shelves full of art books but my favourite was a large coffee table book of official portraits of the queen in all her glorious dresses and two large almanacs of Australian fashion designers.  All six of us were always creating, having ideas and trying to realise them.  Now I understand that it was a very special and privileged way to grow up which has lead me to where I am now.

MRS WOO: It takes years of practice and skill to produce what you do - so much care and detail. Not only do you make every piece in your collection, you also make a perfectly formed 75-hour garment look like it took no time at all to craft. What can you tell us about having strong making skills, and how it’s important to your sustainability practices?

ALY: I call myself a designer or an artist, but deeper down I think what I am is a maker or craftsperson.  I think in a different life I might have been a woodworker, but the colour and patterns of textiles mesmerised me from a very young age.

I started hand-sewing Barbie doll clothes when I was about 6.  Just after I turned 8, I got a Barbie sewing machine for Christmas.  The first thing I made was a denim skirt with a ruffle at the hem and pocket with the letter 'A' for Aly machined on it.  I broke the machine on that skirt.  I levelled up to an old Singer with the wooden box base and barrel cover.  It could sew through anything!  I’m 50 now so I’d say I have 44 years of sewing experience - and I’m still learning.  It’s a slow process.  You can sew a particular thing for years in the same way and then suddenly think of a better way.

Maiike has been many things over the years - it's been a journey. it’s me.  It started as a clothing brand and became a creative practice.  About 15 years ago I decided to only work with materials that were easily accessible from local suppliers (especially recycled)  and make things that could easily be produced locally, if not by myself.  During Victoria's infamous Covid-19 lockdowns, I went even further and decided to find out how much I could create from resources already in my studio.  It turns out my studio was full of resources!! The combination of 44 years of making skills and creating my own fabrics through the recycling is the heart of my practice.

MRS WOO: MAIIKE is going on 25 years now which is no mean feat for a small, slow fashion Australian business -! What do you love about what you do that keeps you going, that many people would not know or realise?

ALY: I love my studio.  I love being on my own, in my space, surrounded by my stuff.  But I also love it when someone buys one of my pieces and I can see that they truly find themselves in that piece of clothing. They feel the hands of the maker when they put it on - it’s a connection, I’ve given something.  The emotion of textiles.

MAIIKE beautiful range is now available in High Tea with Mrs Woo's NEWCASTLE and SYDNEY stores.

Posted in creativesmallbusiness meetthemaker mrswooanniversaryshowcase