Though Dirk Schönberger has stayed in the background at Adidas, what he has achieved for the German sporting goods maker in recent years has not gone unnoticed: collaborations with Raf Simons, Rick Owens and Kanye West and the revival of the Stan Smith sneaker can all be attributed to Schönberger. That is why the designer, born in 1966 in Cologne, has now been appointed global creative officer of the MCM brand, which was founded in Munich. For some a highly anticipated coup, for others a strange parallel to the appointment of ex-Adidas designer Michael Michalsky in 2005 to the now Seoul-based label.
MCM was founded in 1976 by Michael Cromer in Munich, hence the name. The company stood for expensive leather suitcases and handbags and thus was vital in influencing the image of Munich’s in-crowd in the ‘80s. In 1995, the company ran into financial difficulties; in 1997, it was restructured and shops and trademarks were sold. In 2005, South Korean entrepreneur Sung-Joo Kim secured worldwide rights to the MCM brand. She hired Michael Michalsky as creative director and he remained in that position until 2013. He was followed by Adrian Josef Margelist who moved to the bag brand Liebeskind Berlin in early 2016. Now, Dirk Schönberger is expected to build on the success of his predecessors, for which the new global creative officer is even getting a design studio in Berlin.
Like Michalsky, the designer excelled at Adidas with collaborations. In an interview with The Fader , he said, "When I first came to Adidas, my first thought was to focus on the Adidas brand, not cooperations. I had known Raf [Simons] for a long time and we were talking about Adidas and how much he liked the Stan Smith [sneaker]. That’s when I thought, well, maybe it would be interesting to bring people back to the brand with collaborations and to let them work on their visions. I think of our collaborations as a virus that has infiltrated our company and is turning it into something else." This approach has been a great success for Schönberger and the Adidas brand. Since his appointment in 2010, the Adidas share price has risen from about 40 euros to about 200 euros. Even if this is by no means attributable to him alone, it is safe to say that he probably has done everything right in his position.
Unlike Michael Michalsky, however, Dirk Schönberger prefers to remain behind the scenes. In 2016, he answered DandyDiary’s question, why he was not communicating his own person more aggressively, such as at Chanel or Dior: "The answer is probably very simple: we are not a fashion brand but a sports brand. We cannot do that much with this personalisation as it happens at big fashion brands. adidas [sic] is a brand with many designers and categories and different orientations, from Originals and Neo to Y-3. It's hard to say that there is one outstanding person. It is a team, rather. That's what sets us apart from fashion brands."
But now he is off to exactly one such fashion brand. When talking to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the designer said he sees his appointment to MCM as an opportunity. "Luxury tailoring, sportswear and the attitude of a current brand with a strong history come together at MCM. The brand has a keen eye for innovation and the needs and expectations of the modern millennials and Gen-Z consumers." While he will begin designing for MCM immediately, the first fruits of his labour will be seen only next year.
This article was originally published on FashionUnited DE; translated and edited by Simone PreussPhotos: MCM