KUNZELSAU, Germany — No matter how big they get, German labels often display remarkable loyalty to their hometowns.
Hugo Boss still has headquarters in the small Swabian town of Metzingen. Adidas and Puma have remained within shouting distance of each other in the town of Herzogenaurach in the Bavarian countryside. But denim label Mustang has gone one step further, opening a museum dedicated to jeans in the small town of Künzelsau, nestled among the wooded hills of southern Germany.
Spread over two floors of the company's original family home, a villa built in 1928, the multimedia museum occupies more than 3,000 square feet. Nine rooms chart Mustang's development over three-quarters of a century, and the history of jeans and the development of youth culture during the last 100 years. One room is dedicated to how denim finishes are achieved, another deals with jean styles throughout the 20th century and others give a detailed chronology of Mustang's past growth and present strategy as a global lifestyle brand.
The museum was designed by the German creative agency Atelier & Friends, which won awards for the Levi Strauss Museum in the Bavarian town of Buttenheim.
The nearest major city, Stuttgart, is a two-hour drive away, making it unlikely that the museum will attract a wealth of passing traffic. But for the label's chief executive officer, Heiner Sefranek, the facility has been well worth the effort.
"This is a very emotional project for me," he said during a private viewing before the museum's official opening on Sunday, which will coincide with the label's 75th anniversary. "I lived in this house for many years and so did four generations of my family. Converting the building into office space would have really hurt. This way, we can keep the integrity of the house and use it to give something back to the local community."
Sefranek said the museum would strengthen the label's identity by highlighting its heritage.
Mustang was established in 1932 by Luise Hermann, Sefranek's grandmother, to help out her husband's ailing timber business. Together with six local seamstresses, she started producing workwear in a room in the family home — the room now featured as part of the exhibition, complete with six sewing machines dating from the Thirties and the original chairs used by the women. Within six years, Hermann had expanded the firm to 42 employees, a major accomplishment at a time when women were rarely financially independent, let alone running their own businesses.
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