Harper's Bazaar (Singapore)

Max Impact

From the timeless appeal of Max Mara to the street-style culture of Seoul, this Italian house is addressing Gen Z with a cool blend of classics, digital innovation and the power of social media. By Windy Aulia

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Hundreds of miles away from Italy’s Reggio Emilia, where Max Mara’s headquarte­rs is based, sits Global Brand Ambassador Maria Giulia Prezioso Maramotti in a hotel suite overlookin­g the bustling city of Seoul. The granddaugh­ter of Achille Maramotti, founder of the Max Mara empire, is here for the opening of the brand’s spanking new flagship store at Apgujeong-ro, a pr ime location on Seoul’s important shopping belt. Looking chic in a razor-sharp pantsuit, a Max Mara signature, she speaks to us about the company’s latest expansion into Asia, fashion in the digital age, and more.

Tell us more about this opening— why did you choose Seoul?

We’ve been present in South Korea for the past 20 years, so historical­ly, it is a market that has always been a part of our internatio­nal presence. And in the last 10 year s, we’ve witnessed the South Korean economic boom, while its fashion relevance, as well as savviness and creativity, has been brought into the global spotlight. That’s why a couple of years ago, we made a statement here with the “Coats!” exhibition (at Dongdaemun Design Plaza).This flagship store gives us an opportunit­y, as a brand, to start a conversati­on directly with customers. To have a store is not just to have a physical space where a client can purchase a garment. It is also a form of communicat­ion, of telling a story with direct experience and exchange with the brand.

What do you think of K-pop, and are there any parallels between the brand and K-pop?

I find K-pop very interestin­g. It’s a phenomenon that quickly became viral and relevant, especially with the interventi­on of major luxury fashion houses worldwide, influencin­g the rest of the world. I think some of the street-style trends that have been around for the past few years, which have since become a part of the Millennial lifestyle, also started from here. And the Millennial­s, with their creativity and presence on social media, is now the group with the biggest spending power.That said, it’s a little tough to find a parallel between K-pop and Max Mara. As a brand, we don’t really fit in with the street-style aesthetic. But our exercises with digital entreprene­urs and influencer­s with a strong sense of K-pop style have shown results, and they’ve been able to inject that into the timeless and classic style of Max Mara.

How has social media influenced Max Mara’s business and branding?

It’s our present and our future. For the first time in the history of our communicat­ions, digital entreprene­urs and social media are helping to generate our content. They give us a different version of Max Mara, which puts us in a place where we can be less self-absorbed.We love to partner with someone who can give us a different angle. In that way, we get an opportunit­y to interact with a different kind of audience. And that’s the biggest stake.

Is there anything about today’s digital sphere you would like to change?

I don’t like the witch-hunt mentality, like finding the mistakes of the brand at all costs; it’s as if people are out for blood. And these “witch-hunters” sometimes touch on some very serious matters, such as ethics. Instead, I think fashion could be a voice to create greater sensitivit­y among the public.

As the third generation of the Maramotti family, what significan­t changes have you witnessed within the House?

Previously, fashion was a closed-door business, with the client on one end and the brand on the other, with no communicat­ion whatsoever between them.That’s not the case anymore. Today, if a client doesn’t like what you do, she will raise her hand and say it. And t hat a c t ual l y pre s e nt s an opportunit­y for us to show who we are as a brand in the strongest possible way. For instance, when we prepped for the opening of the Seoul flagship store, there was a discussion between us and the PR team regarding the story, concept and products. From the distributi­on standpoint, the way we present the products becomes a total identity. Whether it’s offline or digital, that identity remains the same.

Do you think the initial idea of Max Mara, when it was first conceived, is still considered as modern today?

One hundred percent. I think the greatest part of my grandfathe­r’s heritage is his ideas, entreprene­urship and, of course, the aesthetic of the brand, which was built by pushing forward these values, the quality of the fabric, garment constructi­on, craftsmans­hip and tailoring.These are the pillars that make the brand.

Where do you see Max Mara in today’s fashion context?

I’m honestly convinced that we are one of the most relevant internatio­nal brands around, in terms of anticipati­ng trends and creativity. And that’s because we’ve always been investing in product research and developmen­t. We don’t see luxury in terms of price, but rather, in terms of quality. Therefore, there’s a sincere and honest conversati­on with the consumers. And the biggest source of pride for me today is that we are a brand that is still relevant for the younger generation.That has been the biggest challenge for us, but we’ve managed to do that without losing our DNA. ■

 ??  ?? To commemorat­e the opening of its flagship boutique in Seoul, the brand introduced a collection showcasing special prints on some of its nylon outerwear
To commemorat­e the opening of its flagship boutique in Seoul, the brand introduced a collection showcasing special prints on some of its nylon outerwear
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