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