More often than not, the long-term success of a brand is determined by its ability to evolve with the times. For the more-than-a-century-old German leather goods brand Braun Büffel, the need to innovate and cater for future generations is as important as serving its current clientele, and its commitment to both segments is represented in its SS19 collection, which was unveiled at its Marina Bay Sands boutique in Singapore last month.
“Retro Future Vision is not just a name. It is the direction I want to impress upon this brand. The collection introduces a new design aesthetic while retaining the utmost respect for the brand’s traditions and materials. This marks a new chapter as we start to write the future legacy of Braun Büffel,” says Fabio Panzeri, describing his first full collection since joining the company as creative director, following his debut capsule collection in April last year.
There is a touch of eclecticism to this collection, which marks a turning point in Braun Büffel’s evolution. The juxtaposition of two eras in Retro Future Vision encapsulates the best features of the brand as well as its potential for the future, making the SS19 collection a fascinating fusion. But even as Panzeri brings his maverick approach to the brand’s 131-year legacy, his creations are uncompromising in craftsmanship and quality.
The collection has an unmistakable underlying tone of striving to break free from the conventional but its new elements have been introduced so subtly that the transition is smoothly done. Besides leather, the use of new materials such as retroflex fabric, neoprene, printed snake skin and nylon as well as pops of strong colour, geometric patterns, exotic prints and metallic mash-ups give the collection an edgy look. Retroflex in the Z-Gen range, for example, creates playful light reflections on the perforated surface of the clutch and drawstring tote.
Whimsical and playful, the Space Bully line stands out from the rest of the collection. In many ways, it is representative of the direction in which Braun Büffel is headed. Each piece is made solely from leather cut-outs of the season and depicts the adventures of young space cadet, Bully, as he goes on his mission to promote sustainability. Panzeri presents his vision of a futuristic utopia using metallic and geometry due to the mish-mash of raw materials he had to work with. “We’ve fully utilised our leather and carefully selected new materials in respect of our planet, driven by a desire to avoid wastage and consequent pollution. As Bully takes on a playful theme of space travel this season, we hope to promote sustainability and remind consumers of this sense of responsibility,” he explains.
For SS19, the creations for the Braun Büffel man is inspired by Stanley Kubrick’s cult classic 2001: A Space Odyssey. Not only does the men’s range match the versatility of a metropolitan lifestyle but it also defies masculine stereotypes with a touch of androgynous charm, as seen in the Harrison crossbody backpack and Kirk messenger bag — or any of this season’s backpacks for that matter — that would not look out of place on any gender.
Part of the collection’s innovation is the 16-hour design, which can accommodate anything one needs for the day. Designed with electric blue and topaz leather accents, the Harrison backpack features multiple compartments while the Kirk backpack, made from neoprene with textural nappa leather and retroflex detailing, is super lightweight.
As for the women’s collection, the term “maximalist” is used to describe the loud designs that draw on Art Deco influences, as seen in the Doris-C and Kelis line. Besides the studded detailing of the season’s colour palette combo of seductive ruby, sky blue and dark rose, there is the artistic interpretation of the brand’s iconic buffalo logo. The vibrant Kelis, meanwhile, is designed for the fashionista who views a handbag as a statement piece or accessory that completes her ensemble.
Paying homage to its iconic pieces, the signature Ophelia line, found in pastel hues, departs ever so slightly from its signature boxy form and displays a youthful vivacity to cater for the modern Braun Büffel woman.
There are a few daring new designs showcased in this latest collection, which deviate from what one may consider typically Braun Büffel. However, the brand’s foundation of leather mastery and quality craftsmanship remains strong and unwavering in every piece. This is indicative of a brand that is well aware of the importance of upholding its DNA while being unafraid to explore uncharted waters in terms of artistic direction. As far as these considerations go, Panzeri’s creations in the SS19 collection reflect all these values, and more.
This article first appeared on Jan 14, 2019 in The Edge Malaysia.