A gem in the history of German production

07 Aug 2015
5 min read
FOUR takes a look at Heinz Bauer Manufakt, the 2nd generation family manufacturing enterprise that specialises in exclusive hand crafted clothes and genuine, ‘Made in Germany’, leather goods.
Heinz BauerManufakt

Heinz Bauer Manufaktcounts as one of the major exceptions of our times that stands for genuine ‘Made in Germany’ and exclusive hand crafted products. The 2nd generation family manufacturing enterprise came to be known in the beginning of 2000 for the ‘Original Cabrio(let)’jacket made from the finest leather for the cabriolet enthusiast and “junior” of Porsche & Co. as well as the brand advocate, Walter Röhrl, one of the most successful international racing champions ever. Besides the ‘Original Cabrio(let)’jacket in different versions, today a capsule collection made for the specialist fashion trade consisting of select cult pieces sans wind block functionality and a country/hunting inspired ‘Nature-Guard’ line are also a part of this range. Not merely does the immensely laborious manufacturing take place in Germany, but virtually the entire value-added processes too: hand-picked leathers of the world’s best provenance are transformed into “the stuff of dreams” at a German tannery. Every single masterpiece leaves the manufacturing house with its individual, registered serial number. A gem in the history of German manufacturing that is unparalleled!

1960: Highly Motivated Beginnings

1960 marked the start of what today goes by the name of Heinz Bauer Manufaktthat was preceded by the meeting of two ambitious people at the time of Germany’s economic boom. Margot and Heinz Bauer got to know each other as two young skilled personnel in a German clothing factory. She was a seamstress and technical officer, he a tailor and modeller.

They fall in love, start a family and despite their sound status and steady income, dream of their own production and collection. While Margot Bauer starts out on her own, her husband Heinz holds on to his job for financial security. For both of them this is a time for an incredible balancing act and a test of strength made solely possible by a shared vision and boundless enterprise. Early mornings Heinz Bauer tailors for his own company and then soldiers through the day at the workplace of another, to return in the evening and continue working back at his own enterprise. The effort pays off and the first orders start trickling in, and the fledgling company prevails as a small workshop.

“A motivated, tough beginning” summarises Jochen Bauer, son and current owner of the second generation family enterprise. “Since there were hardly any skilled workers available, my mother had to press her foot on the pedal to show the needlewomen which one was required to be pushed. Her single-mindedness was exemplary. In her pregnant state she lugged the cut-outs herself to the local suppliers and once had the scare of her first child being born on the way in high snow…” This dedication, which lay at the heart of the company, is carried forth as its DNA till today and elucidates the perseverance of this manufacturing company in its over six decades of existence with the respective challenges.

1960s to 1992: From Cloth to Leather

Jackets and trousers for men and women were manufactured and successfully sold under the brand name “Bauer Models” in the 1960s. In the early 1980s this line gets an upgrade: ‘Bauer Creation’ now specialises in sports jackets made from woven fabrics, mainly for men. Although successful for over three decades, by the end of the 1980s this family enterprise is not spared from the fallout of the structural changes in the German textile and clothing market. Manufacturing having long since relocated overseas, companies close down one after the other. It is a struggle for German experts to financially sustain their individual labels or collections.

1992 sees the turning point: Heinz Bauer gets his 26 year old son Jochen into the business. Qualified in business administration with well-founded training he worked at that time as a Controller. “This was not an easy step. The prospects were not rosy”, says Jochen Bauer. Junior had though worked even as a child in the parent’s company and later at the different production stations and learnt the ropes from scratch under his father. “I was especially partial to modelling and patterning. I had long since developed a style sense and had visited many, many trade fairs too. The bottom line was soon clear”.

Low business volumes in general meant that the company had to undergo a complete redefinition. “I wanted at all costs to moor to the new lifestyle concept of a cabriolet and launch a leather jacket to go with it. My father was not too taken up with the idea of the reduction of an entire collection of woven fabric to a single product, a leather jacket.” Although senior was opposed to leather, the son brings him on board. “Leather was far more expensive and labour intensive. But I knew that in the long run only a unique and authentic product, irrespective of costs, would take us to the turning point and bring success. And this product was the ‘Original Cabrio(let)’ leather jacket.”

1990s to the first decade of 2000: The Birth of an Exclusive Premium Brand

At first the situation proves to be challenging. Senior has other notions of management or beliefs on product and marketing related issues as the son, Jochen. In the end the family traditions of craftsmanship and a common goal have the last say “Ultimately, we decided to commit ourselves collectively to the mission of the ‘Original Cabrio(let)’leather jacket.” The finest jacket model is perfected to the last detail and its ingenious perfection, also in terms of cut, serves as the base model. ‘Bauer Creation’ morphs into Heinz Bauer Manufakt. The family audaciously reinvents the manufacturing company and wagers a step in the direction of the premium brand niche: the ‘Original Cabrio(let)’jacket made from the finest leather with integrated wind blocker.

Jochen Bauer, who himself is passionate about driving convertibles is his own biggest critique as a test consumer. The mounting success bears testimony to the brave and uncompromising course he has taken: the first successful model has evolved in the 20 years thereafter into a 30 piece premium collection with each model carrying a registered serial number. An excellence in quality that fascinates discerning clientele worldwide for the handcrafted workmanship of the best leather in the world and the strictly ‘Made in Germany’feature.

It appeals even to the brand advocate Walter Röhrl, two-time Rallye world champion and four-time champion of the Rallye at Monte Carlo. “We could not have wished for a more credible testimonial, which on the strength of its own conviction espouses what we stand for.” According to Niki Lauda, Röhrl is a “Whizz at the wheel”, who works closely till today with Porsche Oand epitomises the blend of the two realms of either brands, which verily go together even according to Jochen Bauer. “Our DNA of values and manufacturing is congruent with the DNA of Porsche, a fact brought time and again to our notice by a lot of clients, who in their everyday life see the two brands as one.”

Today: With Solid Potential for the Future

What began in the 1990s as a single-focus company has today grown into a robust ‘Made in Germany’ premium manufacturing company for leather jackets and also accessories like bags, caps, belts and gloves for men and women. Heinz Bauer Manufaktcurrently employs about 25 people in Reutlingen for cutting, grading, production, administration, marketing, distribution and direct sales. 20 more employees work for Heinz Bauer Manufaktat another ancillary supplier firm in Swabia.

The exclusive, original “whiff of the stable” draws many clients directly to Reutlingen: fans from abroad, from Amsterdam, London, New York or Los Angeles descend here. “We have always had something for all tastes” says Jochen Bauer with a smile.

Bespoke clothing manufacture and customisation with individual logos, emblems are particularly fascinating for these clients. But it is not just the fans of exclusive custom-made products who love the impressive, handcrafted and perfected ‘Made in Germany’collections. In Germany about 60 dealers, which among others feature Borgers auf dem Land in Essen, Bredlin Ravensburg, Brokelmann in Stade, Dodenhof in Posthausen, Engelhorn in Mannheim, Franz Sauer in Cologne, Hirmer in Munich or Ladage& Oelke in Hamburg, retail Heinz Bauer Manufaktproducts. These hand crafted products can also to be purchased at the best POS in the Netherlands, Austria and Switzerland.

“Had anyone told us this at the start of our stringent reorientation…not really would we have dared to dream” are the closing words of Jochen Bauer, a man of intrinsic calibre with vision, who is assertive, has great love for his family and a burning passion in matters of and for the material called leather.

Heinz Bauer Manufakt GmbH

Robert Scott Str. 3

72768 Reutlingen

+49 7121 620626