How Ger­man leather brand Braun Büf­fel suceeded in hav­ing a stake in the in­dus­try


Is sar­casm the low­est form of wit?

JUST THIS PAST APRIL, Braun Büf­fel opened its flag­ship bou­tique in Sin­ga­pore at The Shoppes at Ma­rina Bay Sands. That makes it five bou­tiques in Sin­ga­pore and over 200 in the world. Grab­bing a piece of the world’s lux­ury leather pie is no mean feat and af­ter 129 years, Braun Büf­fel hasn’t fal­tered one bit.

“Con­sumers to­day yearn for some­thing that is stylish and bold, a state­ment piece to match their out­fits. That’s where I started to relook the en­tire de­sign con­cept ‒ we wanted to tar­get a wide mix of cus­tomers and not just one par­tic­u­lar group,” ex­plained Chris­tiane Brunk, a fourth-gen­er­a­tion Braun who now helms the fam­ily busi­ness.

One look at Braun Büf­fel’s prod­uct range and it’s not hard to see what she means.

The range is ex­ten­sive ‒ small leather goods in­clu­sive of key hold­ers and lug­gage tags, bags of dif­fer­ent styles, and the re­cent ex­pan­sion into time­pieces and eye­wear. Styles could very well ap­peal to a wide range of cus­tomers too with the con­ser­va­tive spec­trum of blacks and browns to the more fash­ion-for­ward as well as younger in­fu­sions of brighter and bolder colours and pat­terns. This sea­son for ex­am­ple, Braun Büf­fel took in­spi­ra­tion from Morocco’s rich aes­thetic and ap­plied mo­saic-like prints on wal­lets and pouches.

Styles and looks aside, Braun Büf­fel is not in­cred­i­bly cheap but def­i­nitely more com­pet­i­tive than other “af­ford­able lux­ury” brands ‒ a term Brunk ap­plies to Braun Büf­fel. She ex­plained that its close-knit re­la­tion­ship with the tan­ner­ies and fac­to­ries de­vel­oped over the years has en­abled them to keep costs down while still en­sur­ing qual­ity work­man­ship.

Mas­ter crafts­man and pro­duc­tion man­ager Man­fred Goll cham­pi­ons the brand’s ethos. Hav­ing worked in Braun Büf­fel for more than 40 years, he pays no mind to the “Made In” la­bels of brands.

“To­day, it doesn’t mean that just be­cause a bag is made in Paris or Italy, it is good. When it comes to qual­ity, it all boils down to how it is made and what strin­gent pro­ce­dures are in place to en­sure that the work­man­ship is top-notch,” Goll ex­pressed. Ap­ply­ing the same men­tal­ity, he went on to ex­plain that Braun Büf­fel prides it­self on its strict qual­ity as­sur­ance pro­ce­dures be­fore re­leas­ing any­thing for dis­tri­bu­tion.

In Asia specif­i­cally, due to the hu­mid­ity, spe­cial care is taken to en­sure that its prod­ucts last. The leather it uses has to go through a spe­cialised treat­ment so that it re­tains mois­ture in spite of the cli­mate.

Braun Büf­fel’s Ger­man team also works closely with its Asia-Pa­cific coun­ter­parts to as­sess de­sign strategies and trends. It’s a way to bet­ter cater to the Asian de­mo­graphic and pro­duce mar­ket-spe­cific pieces. One of the re­sults of this close re­la­tion­ship is the iconic horse­hair printed leather that’s been seen con­tin­u­ously sea­son af­ter sea­son and in dif­fer­ent per­mu­ta­tions.

There is how­ever one thing that Braun Büf­fel has yet to fully tap into, and that’s e-com­merce. Of the six coun­tries that the brand cur­rently ded­i­cates its on­line shop­ping ser­vice to, China is the only Asian coun­try on the list.

“We are def­i­nitely very in­ter­ested in e-com­merce for the Asia-Pa­cific mar­ket and that is one area that we are pool­ing our re­sources to ex­pand on,” echoed Chris­tiane Brunk when asked what’s in the works. It’s a much-needed step up for the brand and could eas­ily be suc­cess­ful, as siz­ing mat­ters lit­tle when it comes to leather goods.

Braun Büf­fel turns 130 next year and we can only imag­ine what there is in store for old and new fans of the brand. While it’s un­likely that the brand might ex­pand into other cat­e­gories, Brunk teased that a huge cel­e­bra­tion is def­i­nitely in or­der.

CLOCK­WISE FROM OP­PO­SITE SS16’s BADI-51 mes­sen­ger; the DESERT-51 mes­sen­ger part of Braun Büf­fel’s Made in Florence col­lec­tion; Man­fred Goll; sam­ples of Braun Büf­fel’s leathers

In Asia specif­i­cally, due to the hu­mid­ity, spe­cial care is taken to en­sure that its prod­ucts last

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