Only about a month until Christmas! Joy to the world! I love Christmas, it warms up my heart... And I am not the only one: here at MCM everyone turns into a little elf as December approaches. This year, to follow up on our grand opening in the fashion landmark that is Harrods (read about it here, here and here) we are inviting you to a very special exhibition to celebrate the holiday season - "Handmade in Germany: The Art of Craftsmanship".
Our Harrods boutique on the day of the Grand Opening
On Saturday 24th and Sunday 25th November (this weekend), we will be showcasing the work of our world famous German artisans from Apolda. They will offer demonstrations of their craft and so for the first time, you will be able to see how MCM bags are made from behind the scenes. Believe me, it is a truly wonderful process. If you are planning on giving the gift of MCM to your loved ones, this will be like being in Santa's workshop, watching presents come to life.
Bring your favourite MCM item to the Harrods MCM boutique from 10:00 to 20:00 in the Designer Acc. Hall 1 LGF, and you will receive an exclusive gift bag with a surprise MCM reward. Of course, for those of you purchasing their new favourites there will also be some exclusive gift bags for the holidays. Tis the season of giving after all!
With all this talk about craftsmanship, I thought I'd have a chat with our master craftsmen about of all things MCM, to give you an insight into how our bags are made:
Does MCM have any specific or unique standards when it comes to materials? What’s the process when crafting a product? Are there any special or interesting accessories, components or craftsmanship techniques during the working process?
The science behind handcrafting an MCM bag is a complex and unique process. It requires careful craftsmanship from only the most experienced and refined of manufacturers. From our handpicked global factories we ensure that our products are created by only the most knowledgeable and skilled of artisans in order to meet the same German quality-standards established decades ago.
We source only the best raw materials from a variety of locations: precious leathers and hardwares from Italy, with linings, anti-pollution hardwares & leathers in addition to our iconic Visetos monogram canvas material from our home in Germany.
Only through careful quality insurance can we uphold and maintain our heritage and prestige. The following steps detail the necessary ingredients in giving life to an MCM handbag:
1 - Quality control of the complete raw materials
2 - Cutting from the Visetos, leather, lining and reinforcement material
3 - Skiving of the complete leather parts and edges for the piping line
4 - Colouring the edge parts
5 - Sewing the leather patch on the Visetos
6 - Hand screwing the MCM Brassplate
7 - Assembling the hardware by handling the holder and bottom parts by hand
8 - Making the zipper
9 - Gluing reinforcement materials on the lining
10 - Sewing the lining to make the interior lining bag
11 - Making the piping from flexible cables and leathers
12 - Gluing reinforcement materials on the Visetos parts
13 - Sewing the Visetos on the exterior of the bag with piping
14 - Taking the interior lining bag to the Visetos exterior, then gluing and sewing the interior lining 15 - bag with the zipper and the Visetos exterior bag back together
16 - Sewing the shoulder strap
17 - Hand-sewing the handles onto the middle section using a machine and coloring it
18 - Cleaning the bag and ensuring the product meets efficient quality-standards
19 - Filling the newly created MCM with silk paper
20 - Packaging & sending
Making of a Cognac Visetos bag
What is the most complicated step during the whole working process and why? Does MCM have a uniquely iconic step in the process?
The most complicated step during the whole working process is to sew the zipper into the bag, which requires vigilant steps in insuring the zipper aligns to a straight line. This is a critical point in the manufacturing process, not just for aesthetics but for functionality in order that the slider runs perfectly. If this is done haphazardly the entirety of the product would lose virtually all functionality
The most iconic step in the process is crowning the brass plate onto the product. Here we hand-sew the MCM plate with four screws insuring that each one remains in the same direction. You can see that all the screws from every bag in the MCM family stays in the same direction worldwide- this process is completed with virtually every single MCM product, irrespective of collection, making it iconic; it’s the only process that’s used ubiquitously within our factory.
How much manpower and time and is required to create an MCM suitcase?
You need three very skilled craftsmen to make such a bag. One craftsman to cut the material, another craftsman to build the bag and another to do the sewing.
It takes approximately one full day to manufacture one Vintage Cognac Visetos Boston bag, from material checking to packing the ready-made product.
What are the credentials, criteria & background required to be considered a master craftsman?
We only have the most skilled and practiced veterans of leather-goods manufacturers in our Atelier workshop. MCM intentionally works with solely the most seasoned artisans & craftsmen from Germany in order to qualify to the high product standards the company maintains. Some of these highly-skilled craftsmen have been making MCM products for over 30 years
To ascertain the experience, knowledge, capability & eligibility to create an MCM, a skilled craftsman requires a minimum of three years training in order to get certified.
Are there any special abilities required during the process of crafting MCM pieces? Which areas showcase their skill & experience and which are irreplaceable?
There’s a degree of inherent talent which MCM seeks. While technical skill is a must, marriaging that with natural aptitude breathes life into MCM products. Our crafts men must be adroit for fast, efficient, yet capable production with specialties in a variety of areas such as cutting, assembling or sewing. MCM has spent years perfecting the manufacturing process to a science
Handsewing, screwing the brassplate, attaching special parts and upholding quality standards are skills only reserved and upheld by personal experience. These handicrafts are irreplaceable.
Where is your factory located and what makes it special?
One of our primary studios is named Leder Atelier located in Apolda, Germany. The city of Apolda celebrates a vast history of manufacture from textiles, dyeworks and steam engines to car production, making this small town famous for efficiency and top-quality products. While timing and speed is of the utmost importance, the difficulty of producing quality-material in a timely fashion is a skill which local Apoldans have mastered over generations.
Archive images of the making of a Cognac Visetos suitcase
What kind of tools do your craftsmen use when making MCM pieces?
In order to create specialty MCM bags a variety of specific tools are needed. While this involves typical cutting and sewing machines, the true ingredients of manufacture are unique knives, rulers, scissors, needles and so on because these have to be used by hand. MCM had refined this delicate process into an art
What percentage of the manufacturing process is completed by hand?
Approximately 65% is done by hand and 35% is handcrafted with mechanical support. In the end however, it’s up to the expertise of the craftsman to assemble all the elements in a tasteful manner with a keen eye for quality to ensure that the product is eligible for MCM standards
What step is the most difficult during the entire process, and which is the harshest?
As aforementioned, the most difficult component to the product’s completion process is fitting the zipper in a functional & efficient manner. The harshest process to undergo is completing a Boston Bag, comprising a total of 57 separate components; individually they may not convey much, but when assembled with proper craftsmanship a luxury bag is born.
What are the first and final steps during the manufacturing process? Are there any quality control procedures?
Only through careful quality insurance can we uphold and maintain our heritage and prestige. The following steps exemplify how the first and last steps coincide with quality-control:
- Quality control of the complete raw materials
- Cleaning the bag and ensuring the product meets efficient quality-standards
At MCM quality control isn’t just a step in the manufacturing process, but an ongoing integral component that is always in mind of the artisan. A keen eye for quality is what insures proper manufacture of an MCM product. Should there be any defects our skilled craftsmen must start the process anew, as nothing better conveys luxury than perfection
What is meaning of Visetos and what does the Visetos represent?
The Visetos is the name we call our iconic logo monogram canvas material at MCM. The Visetos pattern consists of the MCM logo and diamond pattern, each containing a hidden symbolic meaning. The three letters ‘MCM’ unveil a dichotomy of meanings: one to signify Mode Creation Munich, indicating our brand’s birthplace and the other to represent the Roman numerals ‘1900’ representing the ‘Age of Travel’. The laurel was specially selected to symbolise the Greek symbol for victory, while the diamond was inspired by the Diamond suit of traditional playing cards which was an essential travelling companion during the illustrious age of travel.
Are there special features regarding the lining and components?
The lining is created from special canvas textiles. Thorough investigation and decades of research have found the lining material to have strong resistance to tearing and pollution. The sheer durability of the bag, in conjunction with the quality of its materials truly creates a timeless piece.
Uncompromising demands are made on trimmings and interior leathers, lining materials, zippers, fittings and
locks. Each product is subject to painstaking quality standards at MCM.
In terms of material and technology, which parts are are unique and non-imitatable?
All of MCM’s product lines are ecologically friendly and gentle to the skin. Some MCM product lines extend their durability to sun & and waterproofing, further punctuating the notion of timelessness. There is even a product line in development utilising nano-technology to promote enhanced blood circulation! Other features involving elusive nano-tech involves the lining, which optimises ions for antibacterial use, further enhancing its durability.
With regard to our hardware, a signature ‘H-bar’ was developed containing a detachable pin for ease-of-repair; this can be efficiently accomplished using a special tool to access the pin so it doesn’t accidentally detach. Lastly, our gold-plated hardwares are completed with ion finish to improve abrasion and corrosion-resistance
It additionally takes extensive research to oversee which materials harmonise without chemical reactions to prevent issues such as discolouration. While a mixture between colouring, polishing and burning, it remains a secret process that MCM has taken years to refine to a science. MCM has developed a process for quality-ensured manufacturing that adheres to their tight quality standards. There is no doubt that these signature components facilitate a truly unique luxury product that cannot be matched (and therefore copied)
What is the process of colouring? Are there any noteworthy details?
The colouration process is a highly important component of the manufacturing procedure. It typically involves 7
steps to manufacture a luxury piece, however this somewhat depends on the materials used. While a mixture
between colouring, polishing and burning, it remains a secret process that MCM has taken years to refine to a
In closing is there anything noteworthy you would like to share?
Through quality innovation & design, MCM unites iconic German-functionality with luxury style. Established through fine German traditional craftsmanship and quality materials, MCM has spent years perfecting a timeless design to accommodate today’s modern travelling needs.
Each MCM product is the result of fine German craftsmen assembling superiour materials with the utmost care. Years of research and development have resulted in identifying the best-quality leathers