Fabio Panzeri is raring to change the status quo at a storied German brand.
Fabio Panzeri is the newly-installed, heavily-tattooed Creative Director of Braun Büffel, whose outward appearance seems to run contrary to a German bag brand beloved for its premium, boardroom-friendly offerings. But the history of fashion has proven that, sometimes, the unlikeliest of partnerships often yield the most interesting results. Plus, the 48-year-old Istituto Marangoni alumnus is backed by a solid resume, which further hints at what’s in store for a brand that is poised to start a new chapter in its 130-year-old history.
Panzeri cut his teeth at Prada and its Prada Sport line, Helmut Lang, Dolce&Gabbana and Calvin Klein.
“My first work was actually in Paris for Jean Paul Gaultier. It was a six-month internship after graduation where I worked on accessories, and it was an opportunity for me to understand the business side of fashion. It was interesting because it was completely new to me. Throughout my time at the various brands, I realised it is important for a designer to have his personal style. Personally, I like the avant-garde work by designers such as Ann Demeulemeester, but I’ve learnt to study the ins-and-outs of a brand as an outsider. You understand how to respect the DNA and translate something new for the brand. When I was working concurrently at Prada Sport and Helmut Lang, I was trained to operate in this dimension.”
He thinks fashion is at a confusing place right now.
“People spend a lot of time talking about nothing really new. Brands are just looking to produce, produce, produce at a super-fast speed. Because of social media, everything happens so fast now. I don’t like it so much, but I know it’s important to compete. I prefer to be aggressive—but by my own rules.”
Modernity is key for him.
“Perhaps it’s something to do with my attitude, but everything I do has to be forward-looking. We need to look ahead because we are working for the future now. I want this for Braun Büffel, to explore not just using leather, but other materials such as neoprene, nylon—even new techniques.”
Panzeri wants to change perceptions of Braun Büffel.
“There’s an honesty to the brand that I like. It has a great price point too, considering we use premium leather. But it can get boring, and not only because it is classic—the perception of ‘classic’ for the brand can feel old sometimes. It is a big mistake to remain that way. I think the correct mentality to adopt is to remain classic but still feel and look new. That’s why I worked very closely on the advertising campaign—it’s the first step to convey the idea that the brand can be super dynamic as well.”