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Going Deeper Than The Buzz: FREITAG, Keep Moving Forward Like a Truck

Corporate Branding team, Shanghai

Start S.W.A.P-ing!

Do you remember the typical “Swipe Right or Left” of the dating app Tinder? In October, the Swiss bag retailer FREITAG launched its new proprietary platform S.W.A.P inspired by that matching mode, where bag owners can exchange with other owners for free ( S.W.A.P. also stands for “Shopping Without Any Payment”). If you’ve fallen out of love with your old FREITAG bag, it’s a perfect platform for you to find your new “lover” by swapping with others’.

Freitagers exchange their bags on S.W.A.P. (source: Freitag.ch)

FREITAG is a Zurich-based bag retailer creating unique items made from upcycled truck tarps. It is loved by many people worldwide because of its one-of-a-kind style. Last September, FREITAG launched its first branded store in Shanghai China, a 150-square-meter space providing an extensive choice of over 1,100 bags.

How could a bag made of truck tarp become a fashion icon? In this article, we dive into the interesting story behind FREITAG by using the 4 Facets of Brand Positioning.

Truth: Each One Recycled, Each One Unique

The founders Markus and Daniel Freitag, photo taken in 1995 (source: qdaily.com)

Graphic designers Markus and Daniel Freitag are bicycle-lovers and often their design drafts became wet due to the rainy weather in Zurich. Therefore, they were searching for a functional, waterproof and robust bag during their daily cycling commute. Inspired by the multicolored trucks passing through the highway in front of their department, the brothers came up with an idea to make a bag from truck tarpaulin, discarded bicycle inner tube and car seat belt—that is where the first FREITAG bag took shape. 

The first messenger bag by Freitag brothers (source: qdaily.com)

When it comes to FREITAG, it’s not only about “Recycling”, but about “Upcycling”. The bags are not made by the machine, but by hand with F-crew’s meticulous attention to detail: the collected old tarpaulins are first taken apart, carefully washed and cut to size, and then redesigned and hand-sewn by designers and craftsmen. Each finished bag will be photographed and recorded to make sure each one is one of a kind.

Workers cropping the old tarpaulins (source: houseofcoco.net)

Fashion icons across the globe are obsessed with FREITAG’s one-of-a-kind feature, and they can’t wait to visit the offline stores just to look for a unique “true love” for themselves. Apart from the attractive design and style, FREITAG provides you a full range of over 80 different models for all your carrying needs: from the classical messenger bags to backpacks, from handbags, tote bags to travel bags, even smartphone and laptop sleeves--there’s always a right piece for you.

Different models of FREITAG bags collected by a Freitager (source: WeChat account “mars探索新鲜城事”)

Vision: Think and Act in Cycles

Before you get to know FREITAG, you cannot imagine “Upcycling” has been infused into every step of the manufacturing process.

FREITAG bags are all made of recycled materials (source: WeChat Account “ROSSO国际艺术中心”)

As we know, each one-of-a-kind piece is made from truck tarpaulin, discarded bicycle inner tube and car seat belt; FREITAG only collects the tarps that’re 5-8 years old; The water they used to clean the tarps is filtered from the rain. The electricity is generated by solar power; the remaining tarpaulins parts, rope belts, metal buckles and other broken parts will be used to produce accessories. Interesting to mention, even the building of FREITAG’s headquarter is built with containers that have “travelled” around the world, undoubtedly becoming the No.1 tourist spot for the brand lovers.

FREITAG’s headquarter in Zurich: Building NOERD (source: sohu.com)

It’s reported that, from 1993 to 2011, FREITAG has recycled 2,300 tons of old tarpaulins—that in total equals to a 350 kilometers long fleet of 17,500 trucks—turning into more than 300,000 pieces of products. Just as the bag swapping platform S.W.A.P shows, FREITAG is trying to encourage its consumers to think about the way they consume, and convey the brand philosophy “Think and Act in Cycles” to more people.

According to its official website, FREITAG believes that “Everything deserves a second chance at life, even something that’s usually viewed as garbage.” Based on this, the concept of “cycles” is given center stage in the company. In 2015 together with Mudac (Museum of Contemporary Design and Applied Arts), FREITAG launched a project to collect 100 FREITAG bags that’re too old to be used from people in Zurich and Lausanne, and transformed them again into a colorful truck tarpaulin—"Made from tarps, and made for tarps”. 

A new truck tarpaulin made from old FREITAG bags (source: qdaily.com)

Universe: A Chic and Recyclable World

Nowadays, while brands emphasize more on high-quality materials and craftsmanship, FREITAG focuses on exploring “the texture of time”. Every FREITAG bag is made from discarded tarpaulins that’re 5-8 years old, therefore, what you see and touch is not just a bag made from old tarpaulins, but the many traces left by the time and space, whispering the long journey they’ve been through. Every Bag is extending the life of waste truck tarp in a brand-new way, and every Freitager like you is expanding the influence of upcycling on behalf of the brand.

Meet another Freitager like you (source: digitaling.com)

FREITAG has made its ideal into practice, in an innovative and sustainable way. The FREITAG bags are the combination of “vintage” and “modern”, connecting different groups of people who believe in the brand philosophy,—they want to be different and are open to new things. Thanks to the communications of these brand advocates, FREITAG has nearly been the “unofficial outfitter of all urban, bike-riding individualists” and known as an attractive and fashionable brand.

Social media posts about FREITAG (source: Instagram user_freitaglab)

Personality: A Creative Environmentalist

If you ever watched the videos on FREITAG’s YouTube channel, you must be captivated by its simple, smart and witty tone. FREITAG is someone cool to hang out with: humorous, eco-conscious, perseverant, and most importantly, creative—he’s good at coming up with great ideas and spares no effort to bring them to life, a totally creative environmentalist.

FREITAG F729 Extra+Large (source: FREITAG Official WeChat)

Where there’s FREITAG, there’re interesting stories—Each FREITAG bag owns a unique name, for instance, the name of F41 “Hawaii Five-O” originated from a drama series in the 1960s; The names of Pouches series “Blair, Serena, Chuck and Dan” are exactly from 4 main roles in Gossip Girl; Interestingly enough, the brand name “Freitag” also means “Friday” in German… You never know what kind of surprises he’ll bring to you.

He hates to be the same all the time, daring to explore things differently—24 FREITAG stores all over the world are uniquely designed to resonate with local consumers. In 2014, FREITAG launched its own textile F-abric, a completely compostable material for clothing making. It’s the continuous innovation that shapes FREITAG as what we know today.

FREITAG store in Osaka, Japan(2018) (source: nowre.com)

Conclusion: Keep Upcycling, Keep Moving Forward Like the Truck

In this day and age, a lot of fashion brands have been embracing “sustainable consumption” in their marketing campaigns, but FREITAG is the one that actually living up to it and turn it into a successful business worldwide.

For any brands, the good product or service is the core of foundation, apart from this, it’s the brand philosophy that leads it all to a larger stage and attract more customers. Fortunately, FREITAG knows that very well, making “Upcycling” a shared belief amongst the brand devotees and gathering them all together. Just as Markus Freitag said in an interview, “Keep upcycling, Keep moving forward like a truck.”

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