Built to last: MCM

MCM is a well-travelled name on the style circuit and it remains the cool choice for a wide range of elegant fashion today

Style 20 Jun 2024

Cara Delevingne is the face of the latest MCM campaign, which includes bags, shoes, knitwear, varsity jacket and a Lauretos monogram trench coat

Cara Delevingne is the face of the latest MCM campaign, which includes bags, shoes, knitwear, varsity jacket and a Lauretos monogram trench coat

These days, all things retro seem to be enjoying something of a revival, in part because the vintage market is thriving, reaching a new generation intrigued by the style of yesteryear and committed to shopping more sustainably, which, of course, means mining the past for items that have survived from their early incarnation. MCM is the kind of brand that this shopper might come across, an almost 50-year-old label that is distinguished by a house monogram called Visetos, often printed onto a cognac coated canvas. But unlike other famous monogram-based houses that tend to be French or Italian, MCM is German.

Roll back to 1976, to Munich, and you’ll find the European jet set in full swing. Into this era of disco, clubbing and barefoot beach parties comes a new player on the fashion circuit that sees itself as the ancestor of that great German design studio, the Bauhaus, with its practice of combining the disciplines of craft and art and a focus on the industrial and functional.

A shot of Cara Delevingne in the MCM SS24 campaign
Cara Delevingne in the MCM SS24 campaign

Creating designs executed in the Visetos print, which features the MCM (Modern Creation München) logo made up of the three letters and a laurel motif, and combines this with diamonds taken from shapes that appear on the Bavarian flag, the German company established itself as perfectly in tune with the sporty, glamorous, travel-centric spirit of the time and those who lived or aspired to that lifestyle. Building on a collection of bags and luggage, MCM was discovered by those in the know, and even appeared on the quintessentially ’80s TV show Dynasty. Celebs took to the brand, helping raise its profile, including LL Cool J, Diana Ross, Cindy Crawford, Missy Elliott and Mike Tyson.

Since then there have been more well-known wearers, like Heidi Klum, Lily Allen, Billie Eilish, Cristiano Ronaldo, Jamie Foxx, Diplo and Rihanna, and a whole series of collaborations. In 2018 MCM partnered with stylist Misa Hylton to create a bodysuit for Beyoncé for The Carters’ Apeshit video. We’ve had MCM sneakers and a monogrammed tracksuit and, more recently, basketball trainers developed with fellow Germans Puma and streetwear with BAPE. There’s even been an MCM x URWAHN 3D-printed e-bike.

MCM luggage piled onto a truck

Today, MCM has evolved. With Mrs Sung-Joo Kim (OBE) as chief visionary, sustainability officer and chairperson of MCM Group, it has earned Butterfly Mark certification, which signifies its development of eco-friendly operations. There are new iterations on the monogram – the laurel-based Lauretos – and updated designs of everything from sunglasses to sandals. However, under new creative director Katie Chung (previously at Wooyoungmi, the Korean menswear label) the jet set spirit is still baked into the collection. As if to underline this, as well as Cara Delevingne fronting MCM’s current advertising campaign, you’ll find Cindy Crawford modelling with MCM’s luggage, some 27 years after she did the same in 1996.

The real appeal of MCM lies in the line it can draw from its origins in the disco inferno of Munich in 1976 to today. It is recognisable and fun, a retro-tinged nod to a glamorous era that today’s travellers still romanticise. In other words, it’s become something of a classic.