07 Sep MCM Plans Global Domination
The Timeline of the Monogram
MCM, fully known as Modern Creation München, is a luxury travel goods and accessories brand with an attitude defined by combining a contemporary aesthetic and focus on functional innovation with the use of cutting edge techniques. Today, through its association with art, music, technology and travel, MCM embodies the bold, irreverent and aspirational. Always with an eye on the new, the driving force behind MCM centers on revolutionizing classic design with futuristic materials. Cross-pollinating its Western and Asian heritage, the brand draws reference from Munich to Seoul and appeals to the global nomad generation – dreamers, creatives and digital natives – MCM’s millennial audience is ageless, genderless, empowered and unconstrained by rules and boundaries. MCM customers today are cosmopolitan professionals who appreciate the essence of luxury and seek quality products without compromise in functionality or style.
The brand was originally founded in 1976 by Michael Cromer, MCM—then known as Michael Cromer Munich—was a German brand in the business of monogrammed leather trunks, handbags and accessories as during the time Munich was considered home of the global jet-set. By the 80’s, MCM had achieved a high-end, luxurious reputation, complete with Cindy Crawford as the face of its campaigns. In pop culture, characters from the iconic television soap “Dynasty” traveled with a complete set of MCM trunks and celebrities like Diana Ross were also seen and photographed carrying a style. Business was profitable and the company continued to inspire the glamorous and innovative spirit in the fashion accessory and travel industries. However, fortunes reversed in the late 1990s due to financial mismanagement. By 1998, MCM, having been restructured and sold to a Swiss investment firm with little experience in fashion and retail, became a bit diluted as a brand.
South Korean tycoon Sung-Joo Kim, currently president of the international luxury brand, at the time was running a successful business licensing European luxury brands— one of which being MCM—in Asia. During this time period Asia was reeling from the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, which resulted in Kim selling most of her licenses, with the exception of MCM, towards which she focused her time and attention. Within a few years, Kim had managed to turn around MCM’s business in Asia by closing all global operations and rebuilding the brand’s image with a key focus on South Korea and China. By 2005, MCM was pulling in impressive annual sales of $100 million in Korea alone. Given this resurgence Kim outright acquired the brand that same year renaming MCM to Modern Creation München.
The Road Less Taken
In a deliberate business strategy by Kim, MCM has taken the road less traveled by building awareness and loyalty in Asia first before focusing on other markets. In the eastern hemisphere, Kim notes that MCM is seen as an equal to established luxury brands with a long history of craftsmanship such as Chanel or Prada. However, unlike their luxury tier compatriots the monogramed and studded leather backpacks can be seen on every other millennial under the age of 25. Fueled by Korean pop culture and a very smart marketing strategy that has capitalized on the emerging #influencer economy, MCM has seen growth rates of 30% to 40% annually and is ranked number two in a $7 billion South Korean duty free market, just behind Louis Vuitton.
With Asia very much a success, Kim has shifted her attention to both the European and United States markets. In 2015, MCM’s first stateside flagship opened in NYC’s SoHo neighborhood that today is one of the highest revenue building retail locations in the northern hemisphere that brand has. MCM currently operates more than 300 store locations in over 35 countries and unlike other millennial-focused brands, brick and mortar retail is a significant component of the expansion strategy. In addition to a wholesale network of high-end department stores, MCM is currently focused on opening locations in additional major US cities.
MCM at King of Prussia
Located in the newly renovated wing at King of Prussia, the 1,800 square foot MCM boutique is set to bring a modern, sleek and luxe aesthetic to the premium mall. On the exterior, expansive monogrammed brass plates join to form a checkerboard pattern for the storefront portal. Inside, gray stone floors extend throughout the space, where custom fixtures in brass and ash veneer display the luxury German heritage merchandise. The use of brass throughout as a key design element creates a subtle industrial edge and highlights the metal hardware used in MCM’s leather goods. The store is divided into two distinct areas, with an area designed to be a bit more intimate. The neutral and warm color palette rendered in high-end finishes perfectly highlights MCM’s collection of leather backpacks, handbags, and accessories.