Luxury Casual Fashion
04651 – A trip in a bag
Founder Lars Braun tells us all about “04651” and a trip in a bag
»A brand can do anything but become arbitrary.«
Who was your style icon when you grow up?
When I was growing up, it was the Polo Ralph Lauren brand for me. Ralph Lauren himself had a clear vision, which I personally did not follow, but which was consistently implemented in an unprecedented way. That always impressed me very much.
Where did the motivation come from to launch the 04651 brand?
We were always looking for well-made sportswear, or rather a look that was not ready-made. It had to be high quality, but not pure luxury and with a professional distribution. But I couldn’t identify with all the brands that tended to come into question in this range. So, the decision was obvious to do it myself.
My initial idea was to call the brand “von Braun”, but I was the only one who was really enthusiastic about this neologism (laughs). Finally, I registered 04651/ A trip in a bag as a brand in 2016 and started with a long-time BRAUN Hamburg employee who is also a trained tailor.
We started with the first small collection. Here with us – at that time we were still called Herrenausstatter (Ed Note: Men’s Outfitter) BRAUN – and then relatively quickly pushed by the external distribution.
04651 is the telephone code for the island of Sylt. Do you also have a personal relationship with this island?
The island has many magical places and a special flair that you can only find there. However, I personally have also discovered other regions for myself, where you can find me more often at the moment to be honest (laughs).
Are there also plans to open an 04651 shop on Sylt?
Definitely! If a good opportunity arises, we will be the first to be represented on site.
What about the availability and desirability of the brand beyond Germany’s borders?
We now make more sales abroad than in Germany. We are in the M5 showroom in Soho, New York and we have our own showrooms in Milan, Antwerp, Munich and Hamburg. We are also represented in renowned shops like La Rinascente and we are just starting to conquer Japan.
Particularly important for us are the US and Canadian markets, where demand in stationary retail is continuously increasing. In other words: our brand has arrived internationally and that makes us a little proud.
You built the brand from scratch and accordingly had a lot of creative freedom. Which aspects were particularly challenging?
It is challenging to accompany a brand that also wants to tap into other target groups. If you only reflect your own taste in a brand, you don’t get the necessary momentum for a long-term perspective. Nevertheless, a brand can do anything but become arbitrary and must find its very own corridor within which it can develop further.
What does the design process look like?
This is where the fact that we are also a retailer comes into play, because we see the market trends directly from sales at a very early stage. This means that we can incorporate all the trends and current preferences of the customers directly into the creation of the collection faster than most of our competitors.
In this respect, our design process is a good mix of new trends, creativity, but also down-to-earthness and market knowledge. That’s what we bring together here and that’s what our customers appreciate.
What role does sustainability play?
A big part! More than 30 percent of the collection is completely sustainable, and we are working on increasing this share.
Nevertheless, it must be clearly stated here that completely sustainable production is ultimately a vision that can hardly be achieved 100 per cent. But it is important to always be on the way, to always be ready to optimise further.
The tag line of the brand is “A trip in a bag”. Where is your next weekend trip going?
I’m really looking forward to my next long ski weekend. At the same time, I am a person who is magically attracted to water. If I’m attracted to special places by the sea, I’m quick to join in.
But we have also deliberately designed our brand so that you are well dressed everywhere, even on a city trip to Paris, for example. That’s our claim.
What does the future hold for the brand?
Of course, we want to grow. Full stop. We want to be present in the best shops worldwide and continuously increase sales. But at the same time, it is always about preserving and protecting the DNA of the brand.
Growth at any price is not an option for us. If we don’t like the market environment of a location, we won’t be there. As simple as that.
By the way, we have just realised a joint Capsule Collection with the Japanese designer Mr. Osone of Paddle. These are qualities from our normal collection but interpreted in a completely different and extremely exciting way. This collaboration was really a lot of fun.