Buzz Worthy    Opinion

MCM Backpacks: Uber Cool or Overly Gaudy?

Or...both?

Who influences your bag-buying decisions?

Nope, this isn’t a Closet Confessional; I’m just curious.

Are you the resolute buyer – dependent on the opinions of no one but yourself? Or do the style gurus on social media have a bearing in determining your choices? For most of us, it’s likely that a healthy mix of our own preferences, lifestyles, friends, and/or significant other’s perceptions of ourselves, as well as celebrity styles or prevailing trends, culminate in the form of our bag-buying habits.

Personally, though, nothing sways me more towards liking a purse than seeing it in the wild in real life. There are numerous instances when pictures don’t really do a handbag justice unless you physically see it (the opposite, too, isn’t entirely unheard of either, helping to ward off a potentially undesirable purchase). Plus, getting to witness something in real life helps you develop a deeper appreciation for it, even if it isn’t strictly your style.

Sometimes it’s a bag (more specifically, a backpack) that you hadn’t given much thought to previously but actually looks stunning in person.

*Love at first sight*.

Therefore, I’m happy to report that I’ve fallen for MCM backpacks, and I’ve fallen for them hard!

But the hype around MCM isn’t entirely news at this point, and we proclaimed last year as the year the backpack was officially over. So, you might ask – why now? Why am I fangirling about this particular rucksack at a time when sleek Y2K hobos or 2010s-era maxi totes are all the rage?

Hooked on the MCM Backpack

It all started on a faithful day a couple of weeks ago when I spotted an exceedingly fashionable gentleman waltz into one of the swankiest hotels in town with a large iteration of the MCM signature cognac Visetos backpack in tow. As you might imagine (and as if the entire introductory statement wasn’t a dead giveaway), I was intrigued.

Until then, the brand had pretty much remained on the periphery of my search results. Of course, I knew how its offerings looked because when much of your life revolves around ogling at handbags, how could you not? But since the earliest days of my handbag journey, I have been averse to backpacks in general and not particularly inclined towards the trendy nature (and hence, relatively inferior staying power) of logos, which happens to be a major design element of the MCM backpack.

MCM Embellished Backpack

So, seeing it being carried by the user in question made me realize that, perhaps in my attempt to steer clear of logo-heavy knapsacks in their entirety, I had never seriously considered MCM as an option. When most of us come across a bag, it’s a natural response to imagine how it would look on us (or is it just me?), but it appeared as if I stumbled upon an MCM-shaped hole that day, and this needed some investigation. Hence, I decided to delve deeper into the brand’s history.

How MCM Took Over the World (Twice)

In the 1970s, Munich, Germany, was the place to be, home to the likes of David Bowie, Mick Jagger, and Freddie Mercury. And of Michael Cromer, whose namesake brand, Michael Cromer München, launched in 1976 with 20 pieces displayed inside a salon in Munich (which once also housed a live alligator). Their specialty? All were emblazoned with the initials MCM encased within a laurel, as a homage to King Ludwig I of Munich, and a diamond, taken from the Bavarian flag.

It soon became the most covetable logo, featured on luggage in the 80s cult-show, Dynasty while also accompanying Diana Ross on her music tour. In the 1990s, arguably at the peak of its popularity, a campaign by photographer Herb Ritts starring Cindy Crawford became massively popular. With its name on the hearts of the young and the old, it seemed as if nothing could go wrong for the brand.

Cindy Crawford MCM Trunks
image via twitter.com/MCMtweets

With the arrival of the 2000s, however, as other brands fought for the it-bag status, Cromer himself was charged with tax evasion, dragging the brand into the murky waters of legal and financial troubles. And with that came the barrage of fakes (I still come across the tell-tale “MOM” and “WOW” logo-ed backpacks every now and then). Slowly but surely, MCM’s monogram disappeared from most circles in fashion.

But despite its many setbacks, the brand remained popular in South Korea, where it was licensed under the Sungjoo Group. In 2005, the Group acquired the brand, renaming it Modern Creation München and hiring the former global creative director of Adidas, Michael Michalsky, as its lead designer.

By the turn of the decade, sales had turned around, and the future was looking up – with collaborations with designers like Joy Gryson and campaigns led by Coco Rocha. In 2011, the brand released a special range of studded backpacks in various colorways, and the iconic MCM backpack as we know it today came into being.

Gaudy Yet Cool – The Perfect Blend?

The rise of MCM came just in time for the rise of high-fashion backpacks in the early 2010s. Following the recession, customers wanted chic, functional purses that could take them everywhere, rather than highly embellished and impractically heavy mini bags which would barely fit your phone or leave you with back pain. So, as every fashion house, from Chanel and Louis Vuitton to Gucci and Chloe, scrambled to get a piece of the backpack pie, MCM had a head-start.

After all, its offerings were already well-known in the East – with a third of its revenue coming from China, Japan, and Korea, markets Western brands had just started warming up to. Soon, the signature Visetos backpack began to be seen on the backs of some of the greatest in fashion, from Cristiano Ronaldo to Beyoncé, Rihanna, and Justin Bieber, and its popularity kept skyrocketing.

MCM Visetos White Backpack

Besides the backpack trend, the brand’s heritage logo, the signature MCM pattern, appealed to both 90s kids for their nostalgia and to Gen Z-ers for being less conspicuous than, say, logos from Louis Vuitton or Gucci. Thus, it keeps logo love alive while still being sufficiently under the radar to most people. Plus, MCM backpacks are priced reasonably affordably for a luxury backpack: at a time when Chanel was charging $3,800 for its graffiti canvas backpack, MCM’s starting price for a mini backpack was just under $1,000 – a veritable steal, by comparison.

Speaking of mini backpacks, the 2010s can often be cited as the era when fashion houses went “honey, I shrunk the purses.” And the shrinking spree began with backpacks. In fact, very few of Chanel’s rucksacks (except for the overpriced canvas version) were functional enough to be a day bag, and Gucci, Saint Laurent, and Chloe followed suit. On the other hand, MCM retained the large version of its comfy thick-strapped Stark backpacks alongside launching trend-appropriate mini versions, effectively remaining relevant to all demographics.

Now Is the Time to Get One for Yourself

It might be a little too early to predict this, but I’ll say it anyway – the MCM backpack’s appeal is timeless. I know it’s tempting right now to run and get yourself a Balenciaga (I can feel myself caving in), but if there’s really a bag that’ll feel like an investment purchase right now, it just might be this.

Here’s why – we’ve already seen that alongside the resurgence of Y2K bags, silhouettes from the 2010s are also making a comeback. And that should hopefully indicate that we’ll likely see a rise in the backpack again. Plus, the logomania trend thrives stronger than ever, so buying into the MCM heritage, especially at a time when its backpacks are relatively affordable on resale, could prove to be quite the wise purchase!

MCM offers well-made, functional, and chic backpacks in many sizes to accommodate your worldly needs while taking on the wrath of the elements with considerable stoicism. As MCM’s Chief Visionary Officer Sung-Joo Kim explains, “The young generation expects brands to be interactive and for luxury to be functional.” The present generation, more than any of its predecessors, is technology-dependent.

But carrying a chic designer purse on one hand and a separate (possibly rather unsightly) laptop bag on another is not feasible for most of us on the go. Therefore, MCM, with its tech-friendly backpack with ample space for the rest of our worldly possessions while having just the right touch of maximalism, could easily be the answer to all your needs for school, work, and play – and last you a long time too. And perhaps that’s the best kind of investment purse there is!

MCM Stark Backpack

So, here you have an extensive rundown of the MCM Backpack detailing why I should bid on that neon-green version on eBay right now. I was just trying to give you all a glimpse of the wonderful world of MCM – and almost certainly not trying to justify making a purchase for myself (*nervous laughs*).

Truth be told, though, I never imagined I could ever gather myself to actually love a full-sized functional backpack (*conveniently forgets the metallic Burberry Rucksack*), and now that I have come to know about it, I can really imagine, what with its style, functionality and price point, how much of an integral addition it could become in one’s life!

If you ask me, I would originally have liked to get myself the classic cognac, though thanks to my Saddle PS1, I simply can’t imagine adding another brown bag to my collection. But is the neon I’m eyeing going to be as versatile? That’s perhaps a discussion for another day. For now, I’ll ask you – would you get yourself an MCM backpack, and if you do, what size and colorway do you prefer? Or do you find it a tad too over the top?

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Vlad Dusil
Admin
Vlad Dusil
1 year ago

Your article comes well-timed, Sajid.

I recently received this MCM 48cm Brandenburg backpack from MCM and will post a full review of it soon. I personally am quite fond of the size (it fits my 16″ MBP well), it wears comfortably, has many pockets and the digital b/w print is just cool without being heavy on the logos.

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rs2929
rs2929
1 year ago
Reply to  Vlad Dusil

what is it made of? What are most of the Visetos made of? I cant quite tell by touch

Vlad Dusil
Admin
Vlad Dusil
1 year ago
Reply to  rs2929

My version is made of nylon and Nappa leather for the black accents. I will follow up with our MCM contacts about what Visetos is made of.

charlottawill
charlottawill
1 year ago
Reply to  Vlad Dusil

Visetos is polyurethane coated canvas. I have an eight year old Medium Liz shopper that I love for travel.

Vlad Dusil
Admin
Vlad Dusil
1 year ago
Reply to  charlottawill

I thought so, but didn’t want to claim I knew. Thanks for confirming!

Andrew
Andrew
1 year ago

Gaudy

Molly
Molly
1 year ago

I would rather carry my stuff in a plastic bag from Target rather than anything MCM. There is absolutely nothing cool or attractive about this brand.

Tam
Tam
1 year ago
Reply to  Molly

I Agree. I just can’t get into MCM…

Tam
Tam
1 year ago

Hi Sajid. It’s the Logo for me…I know that they have very nice leather goods that have minimal or none logos.

Candee
Candee
1 year ago

I needed a backpack for travel and looked at the MCM, which I liked, but not the logo. I don’t want to be a walking ad for any brand…well, unless they want to pay or gift me. 😉

Eos
Eos
1 year ago

Sajid, I have said it already, I really love your articles. They are so refreshing. I do hope you will remain a permanent columnist for Purseblog.
As far as the MCM Backpack is concerned, I feel you. I am also contemplating. I feel it is easier to wear than Vuitton but fun and practical at the same time.
Keep us updated !

Tam
Tam
1 year ago
Reply to  Eos

Really? Easier to wear than LV? I think LV is easier to wear than MCM. Plus LV has more styles to choose from and are classic. Even with MCM “classics” I just can’t get into it.

Tam
Tam
1 year ago

Absolutely!

Yazi
Yazi
1 year ago

Too much logo on their popular bags. Maybe the black line is more discreet.

Katarina
Katarina
1 year ago

MCM bags are ugly.

Tam
Tam
1 year ago
Reply to  Katarina

Especially with the Prints and Stud combo. I just can’t. The all leather simple version is nice though.

Like So Like That
Like So Like That
1 year ago

I love your articles, for real! It’s like my personal person writing!!!

Jaime
Jaime
1 year ago

My daughter (24) adores her MCM backpack. She said you can dress up, dress down, travels well. Looks good on her.

Jaime
Jaime
1 year ago

Brown with a few pieces of brass hardware.

Jerri R
Jerri R
1 year ago

Fuggles I say

EconomicallySavvy
EconomicallySavvy
1 year ago

I love my MCM backpack. I wanted something functional for work (my commute was pretty long pre COVID) with the luxury feel and without being overly priced. MCM did it for me. I do agree that some styles are overly loud and a bit messy. But once I laid my eyes on this one, I was sold. I did want the red version, but it was sold out at the time.

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Passerine
Passerine
1 year ago

Nothing wrong with the MCM backpacks, but I prefer something of excellent quality and more off the radar: Bally backpacks. For men: https://www.bally.ch/en_CH/men/bags/backpacks/ If you need a large one, the Bahko is great-looking and well made. The Codie is a slightly smaller fabric backpack but has some of Bahko’s leather trim and is on sale right now at a very good price. Also attractive is the Mavrick. I am going to get either the Codie or Mavrick as a work backpack.

For women, some of the men’s backpacks work fine but there are also a few smaller ones for women like the Daffi and Elza: https://www.bally.ch/en_CH/women/bags/backpacks/

All stylish (as backpacks go) and not exorbitantly priced. Did you look at Bally’s selection before choosing the MCM?

Helen
Helen
1 year ago
Reply to  Passerine

Yuck Bally is such a tragic brand.

Fabuleux
Fabuleux
1 year ago

I agree. Nothing attractive or interesting about Bally. It feels like a brand with no identity, no narrative, and no point of view.

Passerine
Passerine
1 year ago

Normally I don’t believe in feeding the trolls, it’s such a waste of time, but a factual correction: the Bally store in our city has people of all ages shopping in it — from teenagers to professionals in their 30s and 40s and yes, to 60 yo white guys. Those same guys also shop at the other designer stores up and down the street.

galadriel
galadriel
1 year ago
Reply to  Passerine

I don’t understand why this site brings about such ugly comments. Its like the Fox News comment section of fashion. lol

Candee
Candee
1 year ago
Reply to  Passerine

You said it much better than I would have. These constant ageist comments are degrading, demeaning and bring nothing to the conversation.

Anon
Anon
1 year ago
Reply to  Candee

🙄🙄🙄

Lisa
Lisa
1 year ago

I purchased a grey canvas large MCM backpack about 10 years ago and it wears so well and still looks brand new. Bought it for a steal at the Nordies Anniversary sale and have zero regrets. I will always hang on to this as a staple in my closet.

Aspen
Aspen
1 year ago

Gaudy and uhm… urban but not in a good way. The studs could give it a cool urban look but it does the opposite. Valentino does them a bit better.

Jay Jay
Jay Jay
1 year ago

Recently bought a tri colour MCM backpack on sale and always get compliments or people checking out my bag. It’s a good everyday bag to fit all your essentials.

Shelby
Shelby
1 year ago

I always love your articles!

Celine Ly
Celine Ly
1 year ago

I love MCM but only their all leather line because of its good quality hardware, craftsmanship, and without those in-your-face logos