Today marks the beginning of Milan Fashion Week, and in contrast, we went to Zurich to learn more about sustainable production and celebrate FREITAG’s 30th anniversary. Since its inception in 1993, FREITAG has been reusing truck tarps to create bags, backpacks, and small accessories. Our journey has taught us a lot about sustainability, offering several surprises we want to share with you.
Let’s step back almost 30 years ago. Markus Freitag was shopping in one of Switzerland’s most popular supermarkets and came across a very familiar item. It was none other than an imitation of one of the first bags designed by him and his brother, Daniel. Instead of FREITAG – which means Friday in english – another word was displayed: Donnerstag, Thursday, in German. This moment left a lasting impression on the two brothers, who eventually negotiated an agreement preventing the supermarket chain from producing any more bags named after days of the week in German.
The Copy of the Copy
Today, on the occasion of FREITAG’s 30th birthday, the company decided to pay homage to the copy with another copy of the copy. Drawing inspiration from the supermarket chain, the Swiss brand organized Settimane Donnerstag from September 19 to 30 at their Zurich Flagship Store. Designer Leandro Destefani came to the rescue by designing a genuine supermarket, repurposing many elements from secondhand merchandise platforms.
Among the vegetable displays, refrigerators, and a checkout counter with a conveyor belt, you’ll find the Donnerstag F13-D COPY CAT messenger bag. They are all blue and available in the store near a special location for the two founders, the Hardbrücke Bridge, the birthplace of the first FREITAG bag. In the store, we also had the opportunity to see and touch the first sample, preserved at the Museum für Gestaltung in Zurich.
FREITAG Doesn’t Follow Trends
FREITAG is not interested in following trends or competing with other brands. Instead, it pursues a very specific mission that has little to do with the fashion system as we know it. After thirty years of producing unique bags made from recycled materials, the brand remains committed to the environment. The new goal is circularity, promising to keep materials used in production in circulation for as long as possible. This mission has gradually transformed into a desire to close their production cycles in the not-so-distant future. But we’ll get to that later.
One of the most interesting aspects of FREITAG’s production process is how the brand’s designers approach model design. On one hand, the priority is to use as much material as possible while minimizing waste. On the other hand, there is also a desire to create functional combinations. After selling the bag in flagship stores, franchises, or online stores, FREITAG also guarantees a repair service. But that’s not all; one of the brand’s most interesting projects is undoubtedly S.W.A.P. – a Tinder-style exchange platform – which allows FREITAG bag owners to exchange their product with others. The company took inspiration from the world’s most famous online dating platform to make the entire process more fun and interactive. At this link, you can make matches and express interest in a bag, waiting to be matched in return. All of this ensures an interactive and certainly circular experience for FREITAG customers.
Sustainability and Circularity
As mentioned earlier, when discussing FREITAG, we also touch upon the themes of circularity and sustainability. Since 2021, FREITAG has been considering developing a recyclable truck tarp in collaboration with other industrial partners. There are already two prototypes undergoing their initial testing, designed to close the loop on the brand’s technical materials. A circular economy-proof backpack is also on the way, made from a single raw material but without truck tarps.
All parts of the backpack are made from a single material: polyamide 6, and the launch, most likely, will come in the spring of 2024, accompanied by a repair and return program. This also applies to FREITAG’s CIRC-CASE, officially the first product designed for a circular economy. The curiosity of this product lies in the raw material used: discarded ski boots.
What We’ve Learned from This Journey with FREITAG
FREITAG’s announcements for its 30th anniversary are numerous, but the focal point remains the commitment to sustainability and a future focused on closing the production cycle, aiming to become truly circular. This ambitious goal opens up a broader conversation about sustainability, undoubtedly one of the most debated topics in recent years. FREITAG’s example, especially in such a frenetic time for the fashion world, forces us to consider environmental issues from a new and innovative perspective. Ideas like S.W.A.P. and the pop-up store modeled after a real supermarket show us how creative and sustainable reuse and marketing can be. This reflects throughout the production cycle and opens an honest and constructive conversation, not only for FREITAG customers but also for fashion enthusiasts.
ph. credits: Philip Frowein, Elias Bötticher