Tradition with Future
The M. Müller & Sohn technical school moves to Hamburg
The M. Müller & Sohn pattern-making system has now existed for 131 years. Over almost one hundred of these years, seventy of them under the aegis of father and son Köhler, the »M. Müller & Sohn, Fachschule für Mode und Schnitttechnik« (M. Müller & Sohn school for fashion and pattern technology) in Düsseldorf has very successfully prepared pattern makers, cutting technicians, directors and tailors for their professional careers. Michael Köhler is now handing over his life’s work and that of his father to the Ebner Media Group, the publishing house of reference books and content.
The system of the future« – that is an ambitious name for a new patternmaking system. But the Munich master tailor Michael Müller was to be proved right. The »Müller System«, as it was soon called, was and still is the cutting system of the future for custom tailoring and the clothing industry.
The »Müller system« revolutionises the art of tailoring
The success story began in Munich in 1891. At the end of the 19th century, not least under the infuence of the emerging garment industry, systems were being tinkered to simplify and rationalise cutting. The construction system developed by Michael Müller, based on proportional calculation, brought a revolutionary innovation in thisfield, because it takes into account the various body deviations, is easy to use, saves time and is easy to learn. Another merit of the ingenious master tailor is to have summarised, standardised and scientifed the tailoring knowledge of his time with this system and the associated processing techniques.
The »Müller system« spread rapidly, promoted above all by his own tailoring school, the »Deutsche Bekleidungsakademie« (German Clothing Academy), and the specialist journals it published with fashion and cutting illustrations. The technical school, now renamed »Zuschneideschule M. Müller & Sohn«, reached the peak of its development in the 1920s with branches in Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Hanover, Berlin, Frankfurt and Stuttgart as Vienna and Barcelona.
Thirty years later, the school is faced with the task of reorienting itself after the war years – with success. The garment industry has a lot of catching up to do, and ready-to-wear clothing needs
an effcient cutting system. In 1948, a certain Franzjosef Köhler joins M. Müller & Sohn as a specialist teacher. As part of the cutting school team, he adapts the »Müller system« to the new requirements. One of the most important tasks is the development of a practicable, time-saving grading system.
In the mid-1950s, Franzjosef Köhler takes over the management of the Düsseldorf and Hamburg branches. The clothing sector is booming and with it M. Müller & Sohn. The »Müller system« becomes indispensable for many master and fashion schools as well as the garment industry. In the 1960s, the cutting school is the largest training institute for cutting technology and the training of pattern makers, cutting technicians and directors throughout Europe.
Müller & Sohn Düsseldorf becomes independent
In 1982 Franzjosef Köhler becomes the owner of »M. Müller & Sohn, Fachschule für Mode und Schnitttechnik« with branches in Düsseldorf and Hamburg. At the same time, the school in Munich
continues to exist.
Michael Köhler, Franzjosef Köhler’s son, remembers: »At that time we were asked whether we wanted to rename Müller & Sohn Düsseldorf and Hamburg aftter the transformation into an independent company, for example Köhler & Sohn. That would have fi tted. But, of course, we didn’t do that. Because M. Müller & Sohn is not just a name, but a brand that is known throughout the textile industry and custom tailoring, that stands for quality, innovation and a demanding education that is consistently oriented towards the market and its requirements. Of course, you don’t give up this unique selling point.«
So from now on, M. Müller & Sohn existed twice: in Munich and in Düsseldorf. A competitive situation? »No«, assures Michael Köhler, »there never was. We always had connections and good relations with Munich, none of us ‘poached’ on the other’s turf. On the contrary: when CAD systems for cutting technology became an issue, we agreed – Munich works with Gerber, we work with Lectra. So, we each had our own clientele.«
Open to new developments and current topics
As early as 1891, Michael Müller had clearly recognised that it is the art of cutting that determines the essence of a garment and thus also forms the most important criterion for customer satisfaction. In one of his textbooks he wrote: »A great evil from which many professionals suffer is lack of clarity in the cutting of garments, and yet this art (as such we can confidently call it) is the first and most important foundation of our beautiful but laborious trade.«
The art of cutting, that is what Michael Köhler has been doing for almost fifty years now. Like his father, he does it in the tradition of Michael Müller, and that means with an eye to the future. A cutting system must not only guarantee an optimal fit, it must also be able to integrate new developments in technology, new materials and current fashion trends.
As early as the 1960s, grading courses were therefore included in the seminar programme as new essential teaching content. Since 1986, graduates of M. Müller & Sohn Düsseldorf have been trained on the cutting computer. Father and son Köhler also look abroad: since the 1960s and increasingly in the 1980s, courses abroad have taken place in Israel, Hungary, Portugal, Poland, the former Yugoslavia, Romania, Bulgaria, Denmark, Russia and Canada.
Best career oportunities for graduates
»With us, graduates of the courses get their driving licence, so to speak, as a basis for their later professional career,« says Michael Köhler, describing his teaching activities. »Driving, i.e. developing their own signature or helping to shape that of a company, is something they have to do later on their own as pattern makers or cutting technicians.« With such a »driving licence« from M. Müller & Sohn Düsseldorf, you’re well on your way in your career. Boss, Windsor, Esprit, P&C, C&A, Dressler, Christian Berg, Strellson, Sportalm – these are just a few of the companies
whose pattern and cutting departments are headed by graduates who went through Michael Köhler’s school.
From Düsseldorf to Hamburg
After forty years of M. Müller & Sohn in Düsseldorf, another caesura in the more than 130-year success story of the Müller & Sohn pattern-making system is about to take place. Michael Köhler will retire from active working life and hand over the company to Ebner Media Group. »It is time to hand over responsibility to someone else. With the transfer to Ebner Media Group, the school will now also be reunited with the trade magazine under the same name«, Michel Köhler looks to the future. »The school’s move to Hamburg is not the main thing. What makes M. Müller & Sohn special is the knowledge we have acquired and which manifests itself in our teaching programmes and documents. We are currently in the process of handing over this knowledge and we could well imagine M. Müller & Sohn, Fachschule für Mode und Schnitttechnik also celebrating its 150th anniversary.«
Time to say goodbye
Almost one hundred years of M. Müller & Sohn Düsseldorf, seventy of them under the management of Franzjosef and Michael Köhler – one can already speak of an era that comes to an end with the departure of Michael Köhler and at the same time ushers in a new beginning. Even if the focus is on the future, there is still a touch of melancholy when Michael Köhler says: »It was a wonderful time.«
What is the future of the technical school in Hamburg?
M. Müller & Sohn – as in the early days, this title now once again unites the vocational school and the trade magazine. Jasmin Clausen is responsible for both areas as editor-in-chief and head of the school. Ms Clausen, you have an enormous amount of work ahead of you?
Jasmin Clausen: We are in the process of shaping the transition, of course we are only at the beginning now. There is a lot that has to be done before we can start teaching. For example, planning the premises, equipping the classrooms, talking to lecturers. We are also looking for aff ordable accommodation for the students. The school must also be certifi ed with the employment agency so that future students can participate via education vouchers.
Will the teaching programme be continued as before or will there be modifications?
Jasmin Clausen: It is planned that all the courses that were off ered in Düsseldorf will also take place here in Hamburg. We will fi rst start with the pattern construction course for women’s and men’s wear and continue to work in parallel on the design of the individual and combination seminars, i.e. grading, fashion drawing, draft ing and much more. Of course, the right lecturers also have to be found.
How is the continuity of the transition from Düsseldorf to Hamburg ensured?
Jasmin Clausen: This is primarily about the content. Mr Köhler has handed over all the teaching material to us. We will use this to continue teaching with the contents and to continue running the school. Mr Köhler has offered to personally support this process of transition. We will gladly take up this offer.
M. Müller & Sohn Düsseldorf has been the sole licence holder of the editing system until now. How will licensing be handled in the future?
Jasmin Clausen: Ebner Media Group is now the sole owner of the licence for the M. Müller & Sohn pattern-making system. This means that schools, companies or even individuals may only teach using our editing system with a licence agreement. We will off er diff erent licence models. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at any time. In the coming issues of M. Müller & Sohn we will keep our readers informed about the current state of aff airs. K.H.Zonbergs
In sizes 44 to 58.
- Print Version
Further instructions for pattern construction and finished patterns for sewing men’s trousers can be found in our online shop.