In a Nutshell: The right leather accessories bring a certain satisfaction whether professionals are at the office, working from home, or traveling for business or pleasure. Carl Friedrik luggage, bags, and accessories combine traditional craftsmanship with minimalist aesthetics to create stylish items guaranteed to last a lifetime. The company uses sustainable, vegetable-tanned leather and time-honored manufacturing techniques to craft its products. And travel card rewards enthusiasts can cash in their rewards to purchase a Carl Friedrik bag that will be with them on all of their adventures to come.
Brothers Mattis and Niklas Oppermann were in the market for a high-quality, affordable laptop sleeve that combined clean Scandanavian design and minimal branding with premium sustainably sourced leather.
The brothers never found one. At the time, they only found items that were either too expensive, overdesigned, or ostentatiously branded.
No one seemed willing to put energy into creating premium leather items with the right aura of quality without calling attention to themselves. So Niklas and Mattis combined their skills to solve the problem.
They founded Carl Friedrik in 2012 to provide others with the high-quality leather goods they sought.
“I was studying industrial design, my brother was studying finance, and we were both university students,” Mattis said. “We thought, ‘OK, maybe we have the right experience to produce for ourselves what we can’t find.’”
Eight years later, Carl Friedrik has grown into a leading direct-to-consumer brand that offers finely crafted leather bags, briefcases, wallets, belts, and even bulletproof luggage items to a discerning international market.
Globetrotting professionals and leisure travelers with card rewards to spend often visit Carl Friedrik for bags and accessories they only need to purchase once.
Modern Design Using Traditional Methods and Materials
Carl Friedrik — named after the brothers’ grandfather — started as a part-time student project and grew into an obsession as Niklas and Mattis wrestled with the many challenges inherent in bringing their vision to life.
As the brothers transformed their vision into a viable business, they said they maintained the values that continue to inform every item in the Carl Friedrik product line. And the products are perfect for those looking to spend hard-earned travel credit card rewards on items that reward their effort.
“Our customers want value. What differentiates us is our commitment to a Scandinavian-inspired aesthetic that originates in our heritage. And it is also in brands we’re inspired by,” Mattis said. “It’s a minimalist yet functional approach that you don’t often see in items using traditional methods and materials.”
Mattis said the problem is that brands committed to old-school techniques too often strive to emphasize them in their design, and items come out looking homespun and rugged. Meanwhile, brands striving for a more contemporary look are too often willing to cut corners to achieve it.
However, at Carl Friedrik, form follows function, and the high-quality leather and other materials produce a unique aesthetic. As the leather ages and develops a patina, items become a perfect mix between traditional craft and modern design.
“We’re not a cheap brand. The majority of our products are made in Italy, and we use a very premium vegetable-tanned leather,” Mattis said. “But we source all our materials ourselves and work directly with our factories. That, along with our direct-to-consumer business model, allows us to achieve competitive pricing while ensuring quality.”
Improving Products through Component Transparency
The decision to purchase a premium Carl Friedrik item, including a signature Palissy briefcase, isn’t one to be taken lightly.
But customers spending travel card rewards to carry and use the Palissy or any other Carl Friedrik product can rest assured that the company’s values correspond with their own. That’s because the brothers have never been willing to cut corners on sourcing and manufacturing.
That commitment is expressed in the company’s lifetime warranty. In short, the company will repair or replace any Carl Friedrik product with functional damage that prevents it from being used — full stop. It is all part of the brothers’ commitment to continual improvement.
“We don’t launch new products every season,” Mattis said. “If you want to do something that lasts for life, you need to figure out what breaks after like a year and then improve it, so it doesn’t break. Based on feedback from our customers, we learn exactly where our weak points are, so we can add another stitch here or there, or maybe make the leather a bit thicker.”
And thanks to the timeless style in everything the company does, it doesn’t need to relentlessly introduce its products to its customers, as do many fast-fashion brands.
Mattis said Carl Friedrik is committed to supplier and component transparency — a stance discerning consumers support. Along with shipping details and a description, each product carries a provenance accounting for all the materials used to create it.
“There, you can learn where our materials originate and also where our manufacturers are located,” Mattis said. “Not only is transparency the right thing to do, but partners like our tanneries are also great, and we want our customers to know that.”
Travel or Work from Home with Products that Complement Each Other
Carl Friedrik is a brand dedicated to the little things that set apart the ageless from the ephemeral.
Complementary component design, for example, ensures that Carl Friedrik products work together to serve customers at home, at the office, or when traveling for business or pleasure.
Its suitcase is appropriate for both carry-on and check-in and offers the right mix of durability, light weight, and distinctive appearance. Palissy briefcases also incorporate what the company calls a smart holder to make that awkward trip from the airport lobby less arduous.
The materials in all these lines complement each other, with the robust aluminum and polycarbonate suitcases also carrying matching leather trim. It includes TSA-approved locks and an optional removable battery — on the carry-on only — to ensure devices always remain charged.
Travel card enthusiasts may also supplement their travel collection with various packing cubes and matching leather luggage tags. Carl Friedrik can even personalize the products with initials and custom leather finishes.
“You can put together a nice travel kit,” Mattis said. “You end up with this super-organized, compartmentalized interior with a briefcase on top. And upwards of 40% of our customers choose to add initials or other personalization on their products.”
“One of my pleasures is reading reviews from customers who considered purchasing something at a lower price point but decided to invest their money with us,” Mattis said. “And when they receive compliments on their item, they are happy that they did.”