Maison Margiela Visual Brand Report

Page 1

University of the Arts London Global Fashion Branding Assessment 1: Designer Brand Report

Maison Margiela PA R I S

BA Fashion Marketing Year 1 Samuel Torres Malpica UAL ID 19001698

TABLE OF CONTENTS 1. Introduction to Maison Margiela................3 2. About the brand: Maison Margiela...............6 3. Brand Positioning and Consumer Profile.........12 4. Brand Global Scope..........................14 5. Retail Brand Experience......................16 6. Brand Communications........................20 7. Brand Board.................................24 8. Business Ethics.............................26 9. Evaluation..................................28 10. References.................................30 11. Appendices.................................44 Word Count: 2,066 (excludes in-text citations)

1. INTRODUCTION TO MAISON MARGIELA OVERVIEW Maison Margiela, formerly Maison Martin Margiela, is a French fashion house founded by Belgian designer Martin Margiela in 1988 (OTB, 2014). Based in Paris, the eponymous label is known for its unconventional and deconstructive designs, looking at fashion as a space for artistic expression and discussion, rather than a cult for personality.

Martin Margiela and John Galliano - Past and present Creative Directors for Maison Margiela (Curcio, 2019) (Aria Darcella, 2017)

In 2002, a majority stake at Maison Margiela was acquired by the Only The Brave (OTB) Group, which would later set the stage for Martin Margiela’s departure in 2009 (The Business of Fashion, 2021). The brand was left without a head designer for years, with talents such as Raf Simons and Haider Ackermann allegedly refusing the position of Creative Director, as indicated by a 2008 New York Times article (Wilson, 2008). In 2014, however, John Galliano was appointed Creative Director, and currently remains at the house of Margiela (OTB, 2014).




Martin Margiela graduates from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Antwerp

1985 - 1987

Margiela works for Jean Paul Gaultier

as an Assistant Designer


Margiela debuts his womenswear collection


Margiela starts his own label, showing work under the brand Maison

Martin Margiela


Margiela is appointed Creative Director at Hermes for womenswear


Margiela releases his menswear collection



OTB Group acquires a majority stake at Maison Martin Margiela


Margiela departs from Hermes


Martin Margiela departs from Maison Martin Margiela


Maison Martin Margiela releases

collaborative capsule with H&M, releasing pieces inspired by Margiela’s early collections


John Galliano is appointed the Creative Director of Maison Martin Margiela


Maison Martin Margiela is

rebranded to Maison Margiela under Galliano’s direction

A timeline of Maison Margiela: Key events, milestones, and history (Author, 2021)


2. ABOUT THE BRAND: MAISON MARGIELA IDENTITY AND ANONYMITY During the span of Martin Margiela’s career, he rarely conducted interviews or showed his face, wishing to remain completely anonymous; a theme that carried through onto his clothes (Martin Margiela: In His Own Words, 2019). With his garments initially featuring zero branding or tags, Margiela later introduced plain white tags held by four stitches to his garments, unusually different from the standard tags consumers would inspect to identify a designer’s work (Third Looks, 2012).

Maison Margiela tags and sticthing (Even Magazine, 2018) (Third Looks, 2012)

Later in 1997, the tags were updated to feature numbers ranging from 0-23, but only for utilitarian purposes, which was to indicate what line a garment would belong to; whilst initially not well received, those that recognised the code were told that they were members of a secret, elite club (Kilcooley-O’Halloran, 2012). In a 2010 interview with Filep Motwary, Margiela stated that the tags were ‘meant to be cut off so the garment would be without a label and logo’, (Motwary, 2016). Even on the runway, Model’s faces would be covered, so that audiences would focus on the garments, instead of who wore or created them.


Today, the stitching and tags have now evolved from their previous meaning; a survey conducted by the author found that 90.8% of respondents considered these features to be a form of branding, and 63% stated they were likely to recognise a design from Maison Margiela regardless of tags (Appendix 1).

Below, Kapferer’s Brand Identity Prism model was applied to Margiela’s brand to understand and analyse the brand’s identity (Posner, 2015). Physique, Personality, Relationship, Culture, Reflection, and Self Image are observed; Maison Margiela could be described as Unapologetic, Anti-Fashion, and Understated.



Unconventional Design, Dif-

Mature, Understated, Dark,

ferent, Tabi Boot, Replica

Creative, Sophisticated, Intelligent, Anti-Fashion,

Covered faces

Minimal, Human, Unapologetic



Authenticity, Quality, Fashion consciousness, Opportunity to stand out, Deconstruct-

Integrity, Brigitte Bardot, Maison Margiela

Anonymity, Political, Martin’s own ideals, Finding

ed design

beauty in the imperfect, Antwerp, Honest




Fragrances, White Stitching,


Height of Fashion, Elite,

Unconventional, Fashionable,

Looking to be different,

Unique, Cool, Knowledgeable,

Confident, Anti-system,

Secretive, Protest, Private


CONSTRUCTED SOURCE (CUSTOMER) Maison Margiela Brand Identity Prism (Author, 2021)(Posner, 2015)



The OTB Group is a significant conglomerate in the fashion industry, operating as a House of Brands. Renzo Rosso, an Italian entrepreneur and President of the OTB Group, became a majority stakeholder at Maison Margiela in 2002 (OTB Group, 2011). Whilst Martin Margiela initially did not want to sell to a large fashion group, he believed that the OTB Group aligned with his own values (Martin Margiela: In His Own Words, 2019). The OTB Group House of Brands can be seen below.

Division of OTB Group brands (OTB Group, 2011)

Additional information from the OTB group website is presented on the following page.



As a corporate group, we provide resources to facilitate the long-term growth of our brands and companies, while contributing to the social and economic dynamics in the countries where we operate. Creativity is at the heart of everything we do, passion is the secret behind our constant pursuit of excellence. That’s why we approach things differently, create a culture of innovation, and consistently inspire and cultivate creative minds.


OTB is consistently committed to inspiring and fostering creativity. Our group believes in the potential of young generations and prides itself on

funding initiatives that discover and award creative talents around the world. For example, ITS – International Talent Support, an international design contest conceived in 2002; ANDAM (National Association for the Development of the Fashion Arts), one of the most prestigious fashion awards created in 1989, providing emerging designers with not only cash prizes, but also strategic and business mentorship. Information and graphis from OTB Group’s website (OTB Group, 2021)


COMPETITOR ANALYSIS In the survey conducted by the author, individuals were asked who they considered Maison Margiela’s biggest competitors (Appendix). Comme des Garcons, Helmut Lang, Raf Simons, Ann Demeulemeester, and more were considered to be the brand’s biggest competitors.

The Tabi Boot as seen on Maison Margiela’s website (Maison Margiela, 2021)

Simultaneously, 76.9% of those surveyed were familiar with the Maison Margiela Tabi Boot, with 61.6% considering it to be one of the brand’s greatest assets. To take this further, a Like for Like comparison chart was created using survey findings and market research on competing brands’ black boots as a form of competitor analysis. Graffitied Tabi Boots, 1991 (Moss, 2018)

Despite the analytical comparison and similarities in price and composition, Maison Margiela’s Tabi Boot is difficult to compare to competitor’s offerings due to its rich history and longevity. Nonetheless, it can be compared to other ‘iconic’ boots that individuals within the same consumer groups may also consider purchasing.











‘Guaranteed to el-

‘Black horse leath-

‘black leather

‘black leather

egantly punctuate

er zip-detail boots

panelled design

polished finish

your SS19 looks,

from Guidi.’

elasticated side

ankle-length round

these black leath-

panels pull-tab at

toe front lace-up

er Tabi boots from

the heel square toe

fastening branded

platform sole high

insole pull-tab at

Maison Margiela sit

block heel’

on a chunky mid-heel

the heel low ridged heel’

and present a rear hook fastening and a split toe.’ Outer: Leather 100%

Horse Leather 100%

Outer: Leather 100%

Outer: Leather 100%

Lining: Leather 100%

Sole: Leather 100%

Lining: Leather 100%

Lining: Leather 100%

Sole: Leather 100%

Lining: Leather 100%

Sole: Leather 100%,

Sole: Leather 100%,

Rubber 100%

Rubber 100%

Height: 15.5 cm

Height: 20 cm

Height: 15 cm

Height: 20.5 cm

Heel: 6 cm

Heel: 3 cm

Heel: 13 cm

Heel: 8.5 cm

Circumference: 27 cm

Circumference: 25 cm

Platform: 6 cm

Sole height: 2.5 cm

Made in Italy

Made in Italy

Made in Italy

Made in Italy

Like for Like Comparison Chart for black boots in the luxury market, as seen on Farfetch (Farfetch, 2021)(Author, 2021)




Operating in the luxury market against the likes of Comme des Garcons and Alexander McQueen, Maison Margiela often goes back to its roots and relies on its heritage. Since Galliano’s entrance into the brand as Creative Director, certain elements and designs have become more commercial, such as the label stitching and the Tabi Boot.

Meanwhile, Margiela has maintained its relationship with its past consumers, whilst attempting to capture a younger audience through various brand collaborations and through building an online presence. Using market data and survey findings, a positioning map featuring competitors and substitute brands was created, seen below.




LOW QUALITY Brand positioning diagram showing Maison Margiela’s placement amongst competitors and similar brands (Author, 2021)


PEN PORTRAITS ERIKA, 33: Works as head of Marketing and CRM at Raf Simons (£65,000 base salary) Owns an apartment in Antwerp with her boyfriend, who works as an architect Brand favorites include Ann Demeulemeester, Rick Owens, and Marni; Also shops at Vestiaire Collective for past season pieces Travels extensively for work, and often goes to Ski in Switzerland with her boyfriend Enjoys meditation and attends Yoga lessons weekly Often hosts work friends and family for dinner parties

MATIA, 22 Menswear Student; Works as a part-time sales assistant at Machine-A in London (£15,000 base salary) Rents a flat in Shoreditch with two university friends, but usually spends weekends with his family in Hampstead Often seen carrying a Telfar bag to university Shops mostly on Depop and likes to wear his friends designs, and uses his work discount to buy the occasional designer piece Likes to travel, but avoids planes; prefers interrailing or taking the Eurostar Doesn’t work out, but has a controlled diet and enjoys going on walks regularly Pen portraits of example consumers for Maison Margiela (Author, 2021)

Maison Margiela’s initial target client would have been a middle-aged woman with an interest in avant-garde fashion; Since expanding to menswear, the target consumer is now an individual between 20 and 40 with a good source of disposable income, searching for luxury, quality, and design driven styles.


4. BRAND GLOBAL SCOPE Maison Margiela is not only private in its brand ethos and design; this can also be demonstrated through the brand’s lack of financial data publishings. Annual financial statements from the OTB Group are very minimal in their information, but sufficient enough to perform an assessment of Maison Margiela’s growth.

2019 FINANCIAL YEAR Whilst Maison Margiela struggled with

€200 million euros in revenue 36% growth

finances in the 90’s, this does not seem to be the case in recent years (Martin Margiela: In His Own Words, 2019). During the 2019 financial year, the OTB Group reported a full year turnover that exceeded €1.53 billion euros, up 6.4% from the previous year; Maison Margiela increased 36% from the previous year, reaching a revenue of €200 million euros, a significant portion of the OTB Group’s revenue (La Conceria, 2020).

Maison Margiela’s growth for the 2019 financial year (CPP Business, 2019)

Notably, a growth in accessories represented a 60% turnover rate, alsonside a ‘strong acceleration’ in retail and online channels (CPP Business, 2019).

Maison Margiela’s Fine Jewellery, introduced in 2008 (Maison Margiela, 2014)(OTB Group, n.d.)


2020 FINANCIAL YEAR With the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting industries and putting the world on hold, it is expected that Maison Margiela’s supply chains and operations were dis-

€240 million euros in revenue (est.)

rupted. OTB reported a 14% drop in revenue to $1.317 billion euros (Singh, 2021).

20% growth

Despite this, limited data shows that Maison Margiela revenues rose by 20%, reporting growth across all regions and

Maison Margiela’s growth for the 2020

channels (Sergison, 2021).

financial year (Sergison, 2021)

Meanwhile, in July 2020 the Italian fashion group appointed Gianfranco Gianangeli as the Gianfranco Gianangeli (Khan, 2020)

new CEO to Maison Margiela, starting officially in September, as indicated by an OTB statement (Reuters Staff, 2020). Gianangeli carries experience from managerial roles at Givenchy, Prada, and Bottega Veneta (Reuters Staff, 2020).

DISTRIBUTION CHANNELS Maison Margiela uses the multi-channel model across two methods of distribution. 1. MAISON MARGIELA to CONSUMER Online at Offline at Maison Margiela physical stores

2. MAISON MARGIELA to RETAILER to CONSUMER Online at retailers such as Farfetch, Matches Fashion, and Mr. Porter Offline at retailers such as Selfridges, Liberty London, Harvey Nichols, and more

Maison Margiela’s London Store (10 Magazine, 2020)


5. RETAIL BRAND EXPERIENCE Efficient fashion retailing is vital to the marketing, sales, and growth of a business, acting as the mechanism through which clothes reach consumers (Easey, 2002). Opening their first boutiques in Tokyo and Paris in 2000 and 2002 respectively, Maison Margiela has continued to expand their use of the marketing mix and evolve their retail practices to create a unique and memorable experience for consumers (OTB Group, n.d.).

PRICE Maison Margiela’s business model applies a premium pricing strategy. Coats range from £1,000 to £3,000, whilst the Tabi Boot range starts at £500 (Maison Margiela, 2021). Brand value and representation at Margiela contribute to a higher desirability of products, justifying the pricing strategy. Simultaneously, price architecture is also in place through the sale of the Replica fragrance line and through brand collaborations allowing Margiela to capture more segments of the market.

Maison Margiela’s first menswear collection presented in 1997 (Laird BorrelliPersson, 1997)

PRODUCT Initially producing womenswear only, Margiela’s expansion into menswear in 1997 allowed the brand to increase its product range and reposition itself on the market. Maison Margiela offers Haute Couture (“Artisanal”), Fragrance, Men’s and Women’s Ready-to-Wear, Jewellery, Fine Jewellery, Bags, Leather Goods, Shoes, and more (Maison Margiela, 2021). Additionally, the brands different boutiques cater to its different lines, and fragrances can be accessed across all channels.


The most significant Margiela product is undeniably the Japanese-inspired Tabi Boot, first seen in 1989 when Martin Margiela had models step in red paint to captivate the audience (Martin Margiela: In His Own Words, 2019). As previously stated, 61.6% of survey participants consider the Tabi Boot to be one of Margiela’s greatest assets (Appendix). Observing the Product Life Cycle, the Tabi Boot could be perceived to be ‘classic in the maturity stage’ (Kotler and Armstrong, 2001).

Models dipped their tabi boots into red paint before entering the runway (Chitrakorn, 2019)

(Singer, 2015)

PLACE Maison Margiela sells across 25 boutiques in cities such as Paris, London, and New York (Maison Margiela, 2021a). Whilst a large part of the brand’s trade takes place across online platforms, Maison Margiela’s channels of distribution were seemingly unaffected by the COVID-19 pandemic, growing 20% in the financial year as previously mentioned (Sergison, 2021).

PROMOTION During the brand’s initial years, it made no arrangements with press and fashion week schedules, becoming difficult to work with (Martin Margiela: In His Own Words, 2019). Presently, Galliano’s Margiela adheres to the fashion week schedule, whilst working on it’s own projects such as Galliano’s own podcast and the S.W.A.L.K. series. Featuring 3.2 million followers on instagram and 47.2 thousand subscribers on Youtube, the brand uses these channels as a key form of promotion.


MAISON MARGIELA PARIS BOUTIQUE 33 Avenue Montaigne (Champs-Elysées) 75008 Paris Telephone: +33 1 70384435 Mon-Sat 11-7 Sun 1-7

(Superfuture, 2020)



(Maison Margiela, 2021c)

Maison Margiela offers free standard shipping (4-6 days), alongside free returns (Maison Margiela, 2021c).


6. BRAND COMMUNICATIONS Margiela’s ‘Mutiny’ fragrance campaign (Dazed Magazine, 2020)

Joel ‘Gallucks’ unboxing his gifted Tabi Boots (Gallucks, 2019)

Print Advertising

Dazed Magazine, Vogue Magazine and more

Influencer Engagement Influencer and blogger gifting Brand Ambassadors + Campaigns Willow Smith, Sasha Lane, PR

Princess Nokia, and more for ‘Mutiny’ launch (Driver,



by seasonal collections,


events, and new releases


SHARED (Maison Margiela, 2019)

OWNED Own Content ‘In Memory of... with John Galliano’ Margiela Podcast S.W.A.L.K. series showing BTS content Margiela’s AW20 S.W.A.L.K (Maison Margiela, 2020)

Social Media Channels Twitter, Youtube, Instagram, Facebook, Weibo, Wechat, and more Brand Collaborations Collaborations with Reebok, the North Face, H&M, and more

PESO Communication Model for Maison Margiela (Author, 2021)


(Margiela, 2021)

(Maison Margiela, 2019)

SOCIAL MEDIA Maison Margiela uses its social media channels to engage with consumers and boost new releases

#MaisonMargiela #MaisonMargielaFragrances #SmellsLikeMEmories #MaisonMArgielaxReebok #MMRecicla (Instagram, 2018)


OWN CONTENT Simultenously, the brand produces new, niche content to support its collections and releases, including podcasts and behind-the-scenes looks at the creative processes, which is unusual for a fashion brand.

(Maison Margiela, 2020)


BRAND AMBASSADORS Maison Margiela appears to operate on a complete standalone basis, featuring very few Brand Ambassadors. However, Margiela partnered with Willow Smith, Sasha Lane, Molly Blair, Princess Nokia, and more for the ‘Mutiny’ fragrance launch. This is unusual for Margiela, but likely due to Galliano’s direction (Driver, 2018).

(SNOBETTE, 2018)

(Dazed Magazine, 2020)

(MACHINE-A, 2021)

BRAND COLLABORATIONS Brand collaborations with other brands such as The North Face, Barneys New York, H&M, Reebok, and more, allow Margiela to capture different segments whilst increasing desirability, as Margiela’s collaborations are typically quite unusual. In February 2021, Margiela released another collaboration with Reebok (Maison Margiela, 2021).

(Harper's BAZAAR UK, 2014)


(Moss, 2018)


John Galliano

Martin Margiela


departed MMM in 2010



Goudy Old Style GOUDY OLD ST YLE

Martin Margiela’s debut coll


White means the strength of fragility and the fragility of the passage of time. - Martin Margiela

An experience that changes nothing is hardly worth having. - Martin Margiela


lection, 1988


Galliano’s debut, 2015


The Tabi Boot REPLICA fragrances launch in 2012

released 1989



Galliano denounced the use of fur in 2018 and for the future of Margiela (Cadogan, 2018) Launched Recicla Line Sustainable line for AW20 (Emma Elizabeth Davidson, 2020) Upcycling capsules within MM6 diffusion line (Fried, 2020) Supporting emerging artists through Tabi Boot collaborative projects (Heron-Langton, 2021) Follows OTB’s Group code of Ethics and supports the OTB Foundation (OTB Group, 2012)

Maison Margiela Tabis by Pattern Chineso(Heron-Langton, 2021)

John Galliano at the Paris court house where he was found guilty of ‘public insults’ (Chrisafis, 2011)


Prominent use of viscose and other unsustainable, polluting fabrics

Ethical sourcing of animal products and animal cruelty are not addressed in the OTB Group Code of Ethics (OTB Group, n.d.) Described ‘Not Good Enough’ by GoodOnYou due to insufficient publishings on on environmental policy, evidence to ensure payment of living wages, public audits of supply chain (Good On You, 2019) Galliano’s 2011 drunk, racist, and antisemitic rant; Living in the age of the internet and cancel culture could pose a threat to the brand (Chrisafis, 2011)



Experiment with vegan leathers and cruelty free

textiles through potential collaborations or capsules Galliano has discussed upcycling clothes for SS20 in the Margiela Podcast; continue to upcycle and adopt it as a wider practice into the brand, as it relates to the brand’s roots (Maison Margiela, 2020b) More transparency about operating policies and Maison Margiela SS20 podcast by John Galliano (Maison Margiela, 2020)

supply chain

Telfar Shopping Bag, the new vegan ‘It’ bag by young designer Telfar Clemens (Emma Hope Allwood, 2019)


COVID-19 pandemic and its consequential impact on mental health, job security and employee health and safety Rising consumption of counterfeit products and breaching of intellectual property, af-

(Tashjian, 2020)

ter ‘Perfect Storm’ caused by pandemic (Hall, 2020) Growing ethical, environmental, and social consciousness amongst consumers resulting in a high demand for vegan products and younger brands


9. BRAND EVALUATION Contrary to initial beliefs that Galliano becoming the Creative Director of Maison Margiela would drive the house to a commercial fiasco, his work has proven to be successful, with the brand seeing an impressive turnover even during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Maison Margiela Co-Ed Spring 21 Collection by Galliano (Mower, 2020)

Galliano has shown season after season that he can adjust his method of working in order to offer a unique and daring approach to his garments, similar to what the world experienced with Margiela. Despite this, the brand has succeeded at a cost of its original values, through taking a stronger branding and logo-heavy approach in its collaborations and entry-level pieces. Whilst doing so may allow for impressive returns and commercial success in the short term, the house may end up sacrificing part of its original following.

Schiaparelli’s 2020 return (Phelps, 2021) (Diderich, 2021)

In addition to this, the re-emergence of heritage houses in the mainstream such as Schiaparelli, Nina Ricci, and Rochas, could potentially threaten Maison Margiela’s current positioning in the market. In order to maintain Margiela’s competitive advantage, John Galliano must continue to innovate, whilst keeping true to the fashion house’s identity.


(Maison Margiela, 2021b)

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE FUTURE 1. Reduce the use of Maison Margiela’s logo across the ready-to-wear lines and the commercialisation of the Tabi Boot in brand collaborations. 2. Introduce a range of more expensive and luxurious fragrances to enter the niche fragrance market, whilst remaining true to the brand’s philosophies. 3. Continue to expand Recicla line, support young artists and communities, and take on new artistic projects to generate buzz and PR, such as Prada’s ‘Marfa’ art installation. 4. Explore the possibility of a vegan and cruelty free capsule collection, or invest into faux-leather alternatives.

Prada’s Marfa Installation (Evans, 2005)


10. References BOOKS

Easey, M. (2002). Fashion Marketing. Oxford, England ; Malden, Ma: Blackwell Science. Jackson, T. & Shaw, D. (2009) Mastering Fashion Marketing. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Kotler, P. and Armstrong, G. (2001). Principles of Marketing. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall. Posner, H. (2015). Marketing fashion : strategy, branding and promotion. 2nd ed. London: Laurence King Publishing.


Martin Margiela: In His Own Words. (2020). Dogwoof Pictures.


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To support this report, primary research was conducted using Google forms to interview subjects on Maison Margiela’s brand identity and perception. From 22/01/2021 to 09/02/2021, 65 candidates were interviewed. Results can be seen below.






End of results.


Primary research was conducted when trying to find fonts similar to those used by Maison Margiela. Fonts and styles identified include: Courier


Goudy Old Style GOUDY OLD ST YLE

Font recreations are pictured below. The only key differences between the fonts is is the tittle on the ‘i’ character; Maison Margiela uses a custom rounded tittle as opposed to the standard diamond shape.

Maison Margiela PA R I S

My recreation of Margiela’s Logo font

Maison Margiela’s official logo (SOURCE)



Originally: Promenade in the Gardens

Margiela’s Promenade in the Gardens Fragrance (SOURCE)

My recreation of the fonts used on Margiela’s Fragrance bottle


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