Germany has an illustrious history when it comes to leather goods. Luxury brand MCM has become an internationally coveted label in the 40 years since its foundation, with trendsetting youngsters wearing its backpacks as a matter of course. Bag specialist Bree caters more to the traditionalist, while Offermann has a streamlined selection of briefcases for the modern professional and Liebeskind Berlin offers affordable catwalk-inspired options for all. Here, a diverse selection of experts from across the country explain how Germany has developed into the go-to destination for bags, purses and leather goods.
Making a mark
Braun Büffel is a German leather goods brand that has certainly made its mark on the fashion world. Originally founded in Kirn, a town famous for leather production, the 129-year-old brand still manufactures its products in Germany today. It is one of the country’s most enduring labels and has cultivated a stellar reputation throughout its history. Though many might consider Italy to be the leading producer of luxury leather, Braun Büffel’s managing director Christiane Brunk explains why Germany is an equally serious contender to the title. ‘Firstly, in Germany, vocational roles such as leather crafting are valued in society,’ she says. ‘Secondly, we are always seeking perfection in whatever we do, it’s a part of our culture. When it comes to leather crafting, we are trained to be precise, without room for error. We place strong emphasis on the quality of the product.’
Capturing an audience
Braun Büffel aims to set itself apart from other leather goods brands by undertaking extensive market research in order to ensure that it appeals to modern audiences. Brunk explains, ‘We place a huge emphasis on what the customer is looking for. For the women’s range, when we started taking a bold stance in the colourways, there was a favourable response. We started exercising more creativity in terms of bag types and shapes.’ Some of the more creative styles from the current collection include the Fable range, which showcases a graphic forest print in autumnal brights, with the brand’s buffalo motif incorporated into the pattern. Traditionalists will be pleased to learn that more classic styles, such as the black Ophelia handbag and the pillarbox-red Astrid backpack, are also available. Whatever your style, Braun Büffel is most certainly a leather connoisseur’s choice.
Design lovers will want to acquaint themselves with Gretchen. A relative newcomer on the leather goods scene, the brand celebrates its 10th anniversary this year and already has a Red Dot Design Award to its name, something designer and managing director Anne-Christin Schmitt describes as ‘a great honour’. The award-winning design, the Tango Pouch, channels the style of handbags from the 1920s yet still looks incredibly modern. ‘The subtle decoration with profile structures underneath the leather underline the drop shape and the special design,’ explains Schmitt. ‘And the option to carry the bag hanging on your arm gives it a unique wearability aspect. So the Tango Pouch combines the best of the Gretchen brand virtues!’
The Tango Pouch is just one of Gretchen’s beautiful, intriguing bags. For autumn/winter 2016/17, we are particularly drawn to the Ebony shoulder bag, Opal duffel bag and Calla backpack. ‘An aesthetic shape, timeless design and beautiful leather is what makes a Gretchen,’ says Schmitt. Discover the brand’s innovative bags at its Berlin and Düsseldorf stores.
New kid on the block
For the minimalists among us, PB 0110 is a perfect fit. The three-year-old brand was set up by Philipp Bree – the son of Wolf Peter and Renate Bree who founded German leather goods brand Bree. Working with German designers such as Christian Metzner and Ayzit Bostan to create angular handbags, roomy totes, sleek purses and backpacks, PB 0110 describes its focus as centring on ‘beloved objects’ or ‘things that develop their individuality through daily use and time’. As such, the designs are simple and clean, allowing customers to wear them on their own terms. The brand is less concerned with seasonal collections, instead adding to its range with new colourways and building on a core of key products. As Bree commented to Wallpaper magazine in a recent interview, ‘the good styles stay as long as they are wanted.’
For Germany’s diverse leather goods brands, making these products is a labour of love, and nothing could be better proof than the impeccably made pieces you’ll find in their stores across the nation.