Step into the average department store and you’ll often be greeted with men’s carry goods that are just that. Average. Mass produced with gaudy corporate branding masking what should be a showcase of fine leather craftsmanship in a stylish, functional and reliable package.
It’s not too much to ask but for two brothers, what was on the market didn’t meet their exacting German-bred standards. So they decided to make their own.
Origins Of Carl Friedrik
Founded by Niklas and Mattis Oppermann, the men’s accessories label known as Carl Friedrik has quietly been forging ahead in the last five years as a supplier of beautifully crafted leather goods with a uniquely modern twist.
“Not being able to find the right laptop case for my brother back then led to the start of Carl Friedrik,” explains Mattis Oppermann.
Given that the duo didn’t have the budget of some of the bigger and more established players out there, Mattis and Niklas had to devise a more intuitive way of getting people to notice. So they focused specifically on the areas where the others fell short and exemplified that missing quality in their own products. Mattis calls this process the “refinement of our brand”.
“Not being able to find the right laptop case for my brother back then led to the start of Carl Friedrik.”
“We aim to create modern products made with some of the finest materials and offered at attainable prices. Our goal is to offer customers the best service possible, as well as always maintain market leading price-to-quality ratio.”
It’s that last part that Carl Friedrik truly excels in. Traditional retails products, especially those in the luxury space, are marked up several times from production to the point where they meet the consumer. This tends to lead to drastically inflated prices for a product which is of high quality.
Carl Friedrik eradicates the middleman to produce the same quality product or even higher.
“By working directly with each manufacturing partner and only distributing directly to our customers, we’re able to offer a superior product at a fraction of the conventional retail price,” says Mattis.
Hence you’ll never find an Oppermann piece floating around on a department rack somewhere. The brand controls its own distribution solely online.
Bred From Fine Craftsmanship
First glances of an Carl Friedrik piece are often deceiving. Sporting modern lines and clean Scandinavian design, little would guess that intrinsically, their leather products boast more than a century’s worth of tannery experience.
“Our manufacturers think we are a pain to work with,” laughs Mattis.
“Mostly because we want to get involved in each step of the production and that we visit them on a monthly basis.”
One of these places is Tärnsjö Garveri, a tannery located deep within the Swedish forrest where the drums have been spinning since 1873. Today it’s run by a fourth generation leather artisan by the name of Axel who supplies Carl Friedrik with a tumbled leather called Plymå which is naturally soft, lightweight and durable enough to last for decades.
The exacting German influence from the Oppermann brothers then take over. Every detail from finding the materials to designing each detail to monitoring every stage of production is checked and approved by the pair.
“All of our products are designed from scratch; we would never take an existing style from a factory and slap our logo on it. We also don’t work with seasonal styles or products. This gives us the chance to make small improvements with each production of the same item.”
“Once we have a product in our range, we aim to to keep it in our range for years whilst continually making it better.”
The guys aren’t kidding. On their website they’ve mapped out exactly where every stage of their product is procured or being manufactured. It’s a highly transparent process which only adds to the intangible value of the name whilst delivering a superior end-product that undercuts the pricier variants on the scene.
A Truly Unique Design
Dig a little and you’ll find a quote on the Oppermann brothers stating: “We’re Swedish, we’re German, we’re Londoners and we’re brothers.”
That’s a many iconic locations to be drawing creative inspiration from so we had to know, does any of it get diluted in the design?
“We believe our designs are a mix between the old and the new,” says Mattis.
“The new being our Scandinavian design influences: a modern look made up of clean lines and geometric shapes, creating an elevated but no-fuss aesthetic. The leather we use however is tanned using traditional methods usually found in the high quality vintage briefcases – free of chemicals and synthetic coatings.”
“We’re Swedish, we’re German, we’re Londoners and we’re brothers.”
“These days, bags from more household brands mostly use either synthetically tanned leathers with lots of coating. The reasoning seems to be a more ‘perfect’ end product that’s easier to produce and handle. But we believe, and our customers seem to agree, that many people want something closer to the ‘true leather experience’.”
“The leather colours in our range are somewhat traditional for leather goods (Black, Cognac, Chocolate, Navy), but our lining colours and how they match with our leathers is quite unique. Every bag is available in either a clean grey or contrasting colour.”
“Oppermann is a German name, and Niklas and my parents are from Germany, but that’s as far as the German style influences contribute to our brand. Sometimes our manufacturing partners joke about our focus details, construction and quality being very German. They could have a point.”
Staying Ahead Of The Leather Game
Carl Freidrik has seemingly caught onto something that has evaded some of the larger brands for decades now. What has and will continue to set the name apart is its attention to detail in every stage of its products.
In design, that means a refreshing absence of clutter, monograms and patterns. In the pricing stakes its definitely accessible to the modern man and in being true to its customer base, it’s surprisingly transparent. Back this up with good old fashioned customer service along with a lifetime guarantee and Carl Friedrik have forged a name with serious potential.
To find out more on the full range of pieces as well their future releases, head over to Carl Friedrik.
*This article was originally written on Oppermann, who have re-branded to Carl Friedrik as of May 2017