"To commemorate the opening of its ﬂagship boutique in Seoul, the brand introduced a collection showcasing special prints on some of its nylon outerwear"
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 prime 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 years, 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 that actually presents 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. ■
PHOTOGRAPHY: HONG JANG HYUN