Jun 21, 2023
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Sabine Brunner on building momentum at MCM

Jun 21, 2023

MCM, German luxury’s most famous marque, was back in Milan this season, with a dashing presentation, a new design team and plenty of momentum.
After a multi-year hiatus, where the brand principally showed in Berlin, MCM this season took over the floor of a grand Milanese palazzo, all the better to remind people of what this label is all about.

Sabine Brunner - MCM

Founded in Bavaria in 1976, MCM initially stood for its founder’s name, Michael Cromer Munich. Though now it uses the tagline 'Made for Movement' instead.
MCM is best known for its Visetos logo and for its cognac-colored luggage made of water-resistant PU by Limonta, Italy’s top manufacturer. Though the new design team and management are eager to rapidly expand its range, notably with its laurel insignia. 

One entered through a telling exhibition, featuring historic products, cool quirky iconic linkups, and images of its wide-ranging fans, from Tom Jones, LL Cool J and Justin Bieber to Diana – both Princess and Ross, Rihanna and Kendall Jenner.
In 2005, MCM was acquired by Sung-Joo Kim, a dynamic Korean businesswoman and scion of a wealthy family. Over the next decade and a half, she appointed two prominent German designers: Michael Michalsky and Dirk Schoenberger.
However, in the last few years, MCM’s 'Jet Set legacy' was not really building traction with a younger generation. But a new triumvirate in charge of looks is destined to change all that. 
Led by President Sabine Brunner - who previously held senior positions at Bonpoint, Roger Vivier and Tod’s - and the design duo of Katie Chung and Tina Lutz Morris, MCM has now firmly launched in a fresh direction. 
Hence, we sat down with Brunner, to hear about her vision for MCM.


FashionNetwork.com: Why are you back in Milan?

Sabine Brunner: We want back in the fashion scene, and Milan is the best place right now.  And menswear seems less busy and easier to show to more people what we are doing at MCM. We plan to stay here and maybe do something at the Salone del Mobile. In future maybe a showroom in the women’s season, and a presentation during menswear.
FN: What is your new creative direction?

SB: We are very well known for our Visetos logo, and our luggage. The brand is super strong in Asian, American and German speaking countries. But it is all logo driven, even if with different typ of clientele. Our owner Mrs. Kim is a visionary and she felt months ago that the whole streetwear movement where we were anchored was going to shift. And so, we needed to bring in the new generation. So, she hired me, and then together we brought in Tina and Katie.
Katie is young, modern, and based in Korea. Seoul is superhot these days and our ownership is Korean. For the last six years Katie designed at Wooyoungmi – and wanted to take a break. So, we put her together with Tina. She brings the experience and maturity and keeps the German side. 
FN: Let’s talk about your DNA?

SB: There is such an amazing heritage, that a lot of people don’t know about, or forgot about. So, the objective is to reinterpret this in a different way. The laurel is the new signature. We have also segmented the collection and created the Laureletos on a coated canvas and jacquard to reintroduce MCM at a new entry price. 
We have a big following among Gen Z and millennials. But with the price increases that everyone went through we have lost some of those customers. That’s why we have refreshed the Visetos offer, making it more cool and giving it some noblesse. Then, in leather lines and bags we use the new laurel signature. So, we are not just logo driven but still very recognizable MCM. And we have introduced essential wrinkle-free travel pieces.
Our footwear business is small, but we want to really grow. We work with Leo Shoes in Puglia and they are excellent. Like our new padded sandals - blends of PU and leather. While sneakers have the laurel print running along the sides. 
FN: How big a business is MCM?

SB:  Our retail value is €850 million.
FN: So, about €300 million turnover?

SB: Oh, a lot more than that.
FN: How big a retail footprint?

SB: We have 120 owned stores, lots of shop in shops and franchise stores. We wholesale in department stores, mainly in the US and Germany. Worldwide, about 600 points of sale.
FN: What is a key change you want to see in MCM?

SB: Our brand awareness is so big, yet so many people don’t know about it. We must retell our story. We have plenty of stores, and some need refreshing. And we need to expand into more countries, to restart the Italian, French and South American market.
FN: Are you expecting double-digit growth?

SB: Next year we will, in 2024. We are very excited about the future. The market needs a brand like MCM, a modern, fresh brand – and an impulse brand.
FN: Who are your competitors?

SB: Difficult to say, but right now we share clients with logo driven luxury brands. In terms of position, I look at Off White or Marc Jacobs, I like what he has been doing. One must consider price segmentation. Our average price is about €650. But I’d love to increase that – but not forget we need the segmentation to get new customers. If you consider Louis Vuitton, their price point is well over $1,000. Their new basic shopper is $1,500. Ours is €900.
FN: What is your next big news?

SB: Well in marketing we have hired Baron & Baron and our photographer will be Juergen Teller. We will announce talent in September. It will be incredible!

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