MCM reaches for the stars on global stage – 10/11/06

INTERNATIONAL. Luxury leathergoods and fashion brand MCM cemented its premier position on the Asian stage and signalled its global ambitions with its first catwalk show on 7 November attended by more than 500 guests.

The Moodie Report was among the VIPs, celebrities and media who flocked to the Papertainer Museum – a design temple in Seoul’s Olympic Village – to witness a milestone for the now-global fashion house. Guests included the German Ambassador to South Korea (MCM is a German brand), as well as the famous Asian pop star Eric and a host of other star names.

Left and centre: The Papertainer Museum in Seoul’s Olympic Village was the venue for MCM’s Spring/Summer 2007 catwalk show. Right: The red 1976 date emblazoned on one of the accessories lines is sure to be a must-have fashion item next season

After the Asian market schism in the late 1990s almost ruined the marque, MCM has been reborn under its new owner since 2005, the dynamic billionaire’s daughter Sung-Joo Kim, and her star hiring of Creative Director Michael Michalsky.

This über-confident German thirtysomething is hailed in the fashion industry for resurrecting Adidas by appealing to the younger generation, including introducing the Y-3 sports lifestyle collection in collaboration with Japanese design guru Yohji Yamamoto.

Patent bags in many different shapes were stylishly set off by the pared-down clothing worn by the South Korean models

At the Seoul event, a not-at-all-nervous Michalsky succeeded in laying to rest the brand’s chequered history. The message was clear: “We’re back; we’re going global.”

MCM has certainly returned with a vengeance to the world stage, but it never went away in its leading market of South Korea, where the signature Munich lion accessories are venerated. MCM is way bigger than Louis Vuitton in this key luxury goods market and is set to achieve US$100 million in turnover in that country alone this year. This enormous sales figure speaks for itself; we’re talking brand worship here.

Retail-wise, MCM has a new flagship store in Berlin in the home market of Germany, and further openings in major cities around the globe are in the pipeline.

Left: The exterior of the Berlin flagship store in Germany, which opened in July 2006. Centre: The lounge setting is characteristic of the new boutique concept. Barcelona chairs covered in monogrammed MCM black vinyl fabric sit on a shagpile carpet

The Moodie Report visited the brand’s Seoul boutique this week to gain further insight into Michalsky’s MCM universe. The monochrome store is black and white with a grey stone floor.

Michalsky, who grew up in the 1980s, has introduced a number of eye-catching design features. An MCM “curtain” hung on one wall is made of 1976 (the year the brand was founded) brass plates which he discovered in the archives. These individually numbered plates belonged to loyal MCM bag owners over the years who had sent their beloved accessories to the company for servicing and rejuvenation.

In other design quirks, Barcelona chairs covered in signature black MCM vinyl are laid out lounge-style on a black shagpile carpet. Black MCM-logoed glitter balls form part of the minimalist window display.

The red patent bag pictured in the middle will be the most advertised bag in next season’s global marketing campaign

MCM in travel retail

Travel retail is a significant focus for MCM and its strategy in this market is being steered by the experienced ex-Bally executive Gerry Munday.

The brand has an auspicious start. It already has a presence with the two major Asian travel retail powerhouses DFS and Lotte. MCM has been listed with South Korean retail giant Lotte for several years.

Left: MCM has been reborn thanks to dynamic company owner Sung-Joo Kim, who is a celebrity in her native South Korea. Centre: To rapturous applause, MCM Creative Director Michael Michalsky greets the crowd after the Seoul fashion show. Right: Global Travel Retail Director Gerry Munday shows off her MCM bag on the company’s stand at TFWA World Exhibition

Speaking about the brand’s newly opened stand-alone boutique with DFS at Seoul Incheon Airport, Munday told The Moodie Report: “DFS Incheon was opened 1 July 2006, and this is the first freestanding POS for the time being. We are delighted with the initial success of this location and its future growth.”

Reiterating the importance of a global travel retail presence to the company, which exhibited at the 2006 TFWA World Exhibition in October, Munday added: “MCM is a global brand and we intend to develop in travel retail on a worldwide basis. Our attendance at the recent TFWA Cannes exhibition was a tremendous success and exceeded our expectations.”

Plans are afoot for an attendance at other major trade exhibitions, added Munday. “Following the success of Cannes TFWA, we will be showing at the Middle East Exclusive and most likely at IAADFS and Singapore in 2007,” she said.

Global superstardom beckons for the MCM brand, that’s for sure, in travel retail and beyond.

*For full background on the MCM brand past and present, read Martin Moodie’s compelling interview with Sung-Joo Kim in the October 2006 issue of The Moodie Report print edition.


Gerry Munday joins MCM as Global Travel Retail Director – 12/10/06

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