Hamburg-based lifestyle outdoor brand Heimplanet has challenged the status quo of the outdoor market ever since bringing out its first inflatable tent in 2011.
It continues to win nature-loving urban fans with its slowly expanding range that now includes anything from backpacks to functional apparel and wash bags.
Tell us how the Heimplanet story began.
The idea behind our first product, an inflatable tent called The Cave, arose when my business partner Stefan Schulze-Dieckhoff and I discussed a new tent idea while on a surf trip in Portugal. We had no idea how this “tent of the future” would look or work in practice, but we knew that the outdoor brands on the market didn’t speak to us, or match our perception of travel. We both love living in the city, but when we break out we really want to immerse ourselves fully in nature – in its rawest form. We spent the next few years working with engineers to develop a lightweight, inflatable tent. We hadn’t imagined this would give rise to a fulltime occupation but the invention was so well received that we went on to design further tents and we also brought out the versatile Monolith luggage series.
You’ve extended the line further to include backpacks and accessories. What defines these categories?
Out mantra is “Inspired by the outdoors, perfect for the every day.” We always make sure our products are great from a technical point of view. Our backpacks are always functional, with carrier systems designed to be ergonomic and suitable for longer trips. Once the functional aspects are in place, we have the freedom to do whatever we like in terms of design. We always found it disappointing when buying good-looking items that didn’t work… Design and function can go hand in hand. In no other industry is the quality higher than in the outdoors – and that’s set the bar very high for us, and we like the fact that we’ve been able to transfer the same high standard to every day usage. It makes sense to design durable and high-quality pieces even for city settings.
How do find a balance between aesthetic and function?
When we went to the trade shows at the beginning of building our brand, people laughed at the mere mention of injecting any sense of aesthetic into an outdoor product. The equipment you use when on an adventure may decide whether you live or die. Hence, the general consensus is that functional products are about survival and practicality, not aesthetics, but I think we’ve managed to convince people that you can combine the two. It’s a luxury position to be in.
How would you describe the Heimplanet look?
The greatest challenge has been to create a minimalist but exciting look.
When we first launched our tent, we were told it looked as if a space station had landed in the wilderness. But we believe it still looks natural as you do see the geometric patterns it has in nature. A lot of our inspiration is drawn from rock formation. The mélange effect of the fabric used for the Motion series backpacks, for instance, definitely has a natural feel to it.
What is your collection cycle – how often do you bring out new products?
We only bring out new product when there’s a genuine need for one. A lot of brands broaden their lines with endless products and new categories but they often fail to add anything unique. We want to avoid this by being honest and asking ourselves if the product we’re considering will really bring something necessary and special to the market and our specific brand.
Tell us about a recent product addition and what prompted you to launch it?
The T-shirt range that we brought out last year may look like a collection of regular tees but they’re actually technical products with high functionality, made with unique COOLEVER technology. We like to see them as everyday essentials because the hand-feel is better than that of a classic cotton tee, and it’s more comfortable to wear, too. Once you start wearing technical gear anything else tends to appear somewhat dated.
Who is the Heimplanet customer?
They’re urban people drawn to the outdoors. Heimplanet appeals to people who love product design and functionality; they seek out well-designed product that works in an outdoors setting as well as for everyday use. The outdoors market is booming; it’s become fashionable and it’s featured at platforms like High Snobiety… This has brought with it a new type of clientele. A little like us, they don’t necessarily fit the outdoor stereotype of the past. I don’t want to live permanently in a hut in the woods, but when I travel I love enjoying the wilderness in its rawest form and I think there are a lot of like-minded people out there.
Which are your key stockists?
We mainly work with outdoors retailers such as REI in the US, and Globetrotter in Germany, but we’re also represented in a few lifestyle stores such as BSTN in Munich and Afew Store in Düsseldorf.