MCM Taps Schön­berger As Global Cre­ative Head

The de­signer joins the brand from Adi­das, where he was cre­ative di­rec­tor since 2010, bring­ing on board col­lab­o­ra­tors such as Kanye West.

WWD Digital Daily - - Front Page - BY JOELLE DIDERICH

PARIS — MCM has taken a ma­jor step in its quest to be­come a bil­lion-dol­lar brand with the ap­point­ment of Dirk Schön­berger as its first global cre­ative of­fi­cer, ef­fec­tive im­me­di­ately, WWD has learned.

The de­signer joins the Ger­man brand from Adi­das, where he was cre­ative di­rec­tor since 2010, bring­ing on board high-pro­file cre­ative col­lab­o­ra­tors such as Rick Owens, Raf Si­mons and Kanye West, and re­viv­ing vin­tage clas­sics such as the Stan Smith sneaker.

Schön­berger is to “serve as the key cat­a­lyst be­hind prod­uct de­sign and brand ex­pe­ri­ence, lead­ing and im­ple­ment­ing global cre­ative strate­gies to en­sure an in­te­grated vi­sion across all ex­pan­sions,” the brand said in a state­ment.

South Korea’s Sungjoo Group, the owner of MCM, has charged him with build­ing a de­sign stu­dio in Ber­lin to com­ple­ment its cre­ative cen­ters in Seoul and Mi­lan, as it seeks to court Mil­len­nial and Gen-Z cus­tomers with re­vamped ac­ces­sories and an ex­panded of­fer­ing of ap­parel and shoes.

Schön­berger plans to hire up to 25 peo­ple for the team, which will be in charge of prod­uct de­sign as well as ar­eas such as global mar­ket­ing and art di­rec­tion.

“It will be a very fo­cused, clear mes­sage ev­ery sea­son. It will be a very co­he­sive mes­sage as well across ev­ery­thing con­sumer-fac­ing, not only prod­ucts, but also re­tail, e-com­merce and all of the cam­paigns, so­cial me­dia, etc. It will help to fo­cus and speak as one lan­guage,” he said in an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view with WWD.

The de­signer noted it was a home­com­ing of sorts for the lux­ury life­style goods and ac­ces­sories brand, founded in Mu­nich in 1976.

“Ber­lin is to­day very much what the spirit of the brand is about: re­ally dis­rup­tive, look­ing at new tech­nol­ogy and in­no­va­tion, and def­i­nitely also tar­get­ing a con­sumer that is very much younger than it prob­a­bly was when MCM was founded,” he said. “Hav­ing this lux­ury brand with a cre­ative lead­er­ship in Ber­lin, I think, is a strong state­ment, and I think it’s also a great state­ment for the city.”

Schön­berger plans to drop a teaser cap­sule out­lin­ing his vi­sion for the brand in the spring, with his first full col­lec­tion to fol­low in spring 2020. Though he in­di­cated that some ar­eas of the brand need a re­fresh­ment, he does not fore­see a rad­i­cal over­haul. “Def­i­nitely you will see the dif­fer­ence, but I’m not a bull­dozer guy,” he said. “You will def­i­nitely feel a shift for the brand, but I am pretty psyched about the her­itage of this brand as well, and how to play with this her­itage, so it’s in­ter­est­ing. And the more I see, the more ex­cited I am to play with this.”

MCM’s sig­na­ture Vise­tos mono­gram will keep an im­por­tant role. “It’s a lit­tle bit like the Tre­foil from Adi­das: I grew up with it,” he noted. “For me, it’s al­ways been there in a way, so I’m not go­ing to change the logo for the sake of chang­ing it or say­ing, ‘I need to show that I’m there now.’ I will play around with it, but you won’t all of a sud­den see a ro­botic-look­ing MCM logo. I think that this would not be the right thing to do.”

Sung-Joo Kim, chair­woman of

MCM Hold­ings, said she counted on Schön­berger to bring in­no­va­tion and inspiration to the brand.

“As a fiercely imag­i­na­tive Ger­man de­signer, he is the per­fect per­son to present new takes on our her­itage with el­e­ments of the mod­ern cul­tural melt­ing pot that is Ber­lin, fus­ing it all with the hy­per-mod­ern el­e­ments of our brand to be the leader in new school lux­ury,” she said in a state­ment.

Ac­cord­ing to in­dus­try sources, the la­bel grossed about $700 mil­lion in sales in 2016, the most re­cent year for which fig­ures are avail­able, and is ex­pected to reach $1 bil­lion by 2020. Dis­trib­uted in around 500 stores in 40 coun­tries, MCM re­cently part­nered with Nord­strom on pop-up shops to house an ex­clu­sive cap­sule col­lec­tion.

Ac­ces­sories ac­count for 80 per­cent of rev­enues at the brand, with shoes and ap­parel mak­ing up the re­main­ing 20 per­cent, Schön­berger said. “The po­ten­tial is so much big­ger,” he pre­dicted. “It will prob­a­bly never be a 50-50 split, but in the com­ing years, you will def­i­nitely see a big shift hap­pen­ing.”

To that end, he plans to adopt some char­ac­ter­is­tics of the sports­wear model, in­clud­ing more fre­quent drops. “Ev­ery brand needs a con­stant re­fresh­ment, and I think that at Adi­das, I def­i­nitely learned how to deal with such a quick drop cy­cle. I think it’s great for a brand like MCM to open to that idea as well,” he said.

In re­cent years, MCM has col­lab­o­rated with brands in­clud­ing Christo­pher Rae­burn and Puma, while the Nord­strom pop-ups fea­ture hats by New Era, Ever­last box­ing gloves, Wil­son bas­ket­balls and Cham­pion sweaters. Schön­berger said col­lab­o­ra­tions would re­main part of the model, as long as the re­sult is co­he­sive.

“I think it’s very im­por­tant that there is one lead that keeps it all to­gether, be­cause you can also re­ally get lost. You can make a lot of prod­ucts that have dif­fer­ent sto­ries and the brand looks a bit fuzzy,” he said, em­pha­siz­ing that this does not mean out­siders can’t chal­lenge the codes of the brand.

“I think that is some­thing that’s in­ter­est­ing about a col­lab­o­ra­tion: it’s not only col­lab­o­ra­tion for a com­mer­cial sale, but it’s also the pos­i­tive dis­rup­tion, the chal­lenge and the cre­ative en­ergy when those two worlds come to­gether,” Schön­berger noted.

The de­signer, who was born in Cologne, Ger­many, at­tended the ESMOD fash­ion school in Mu­nich. He worked for three years as an as­sis­tant at Dirk Bikkem­bergs in An­twerp, Bel­gium. Known for his eye for de­tails and tai­lor­ing skills, he launched his own men’s wear col­lec­tion in 1996 and fol­lowed in 2002 with a women’s wear line.

In 2007, he was named cre­ative di­rec­tor of Ger­man brand Joop. His LinkedIn pro­file in­di­cated he shut­tered his epony­mous line in 2009. Re­flect­ing his life­long pas­sion for mu­sic, Schön­berger de­signed clothes for Mick Jag­ger and Keith Richard for the Rolling Stones’ “40 Licks” world tour, and for Bono on U2’s “El­e­va­tion” tour.

Schön­berger said he looked for­ward to bring­ing his re­cent ex­pe­ri­ence at Adi­das to his new po­si­tion at MCM, even though the two com­pa­nies op­er­ate in dif­fer­ent price brack­ets.

“In the end, the spirit is very sim­i­lar, so I think what I’m def­i­nitely bring­ing as well to the brand is my learn­ings about footwear and shoes, and to cre­ate also within a brand that has a his­tory and her­itage, but also a brand that wants to cre­ate on that her­itage and cre­ate some­thing very new and mod­ern for the con­sumer,” he said.

“Of course, it is a very strong ac­ces­sories-driven busi­ness and I’m very re­spect­ful of that, but on the other hand, there’s a lot to grow in ready-to-wear and the shoe busi­ness, to re­ally cre­ate a to­tal look for MCM as a brand, that’s go­ing to be a very in­ter­est­ing chal­lenge ahead,” he con­cluded.

Dirk Schön­berger

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