In 1993, graphic designers Markus and Daniel Freitag were looking for a functional, water-repellent and robust bag to hold their creative work. Inspired by the multicolored heavy traffic that rumbled through the Zurich transit intersection in front of their flat, they developed a messenger bag from used truck tarpaulins, discarded bicycle inner tubes and car seat belts. This is how the first FREITAG bags took shape in the living room of their shared apartment – each one recycled, each one unique.
It’s hard to believe with the endless columns of trucks on the road there aren’t truck tarps just lying around on the street. Well good quality ones wouldn’t be anyway… Sourcing raw materials for FREITAG may not be Glencore but it is definitely hardcore. To ensure that our 200 F-Workers always have something to do, our five tarp-buyers – also known as truck spotters – have to find and bring back approximately 640 tonnes of tarps to Nœrd each year. To accomplish this, our truck spotters are on the phone non-stop, or prowling around the truck stops of Europe to hunt down the best tarps in the hottest colours from trucks, truckers and shipping companies.
It’s no walk in the park freeing tarps from their imprisonment as dirty, bulky truck covers. We need men like Thomas to turn the gigantic tarp monsters into R.I.P.s (Recycled Individual Products) by first freeing them of eyelets, straps, belts and anything else that a FREITAG bag doesn’t need. With a sharp eye and an even sharper knife, the toughest boys on the F-Crew see the potential of each tarp that lands on their table. They then hack and carve prime cuts from the scruffy beasts and cut them into standard 7.8-foot pieces, fold them together and send them off to the Laundry Department.
This isn’t your ordinary washing process. What happens in the NŒRD cellar has nothing in common with what you do in your laundry room. The real work that our tarp washers carry out is to transform “used” into “patina” and “old” into “vintage” using 3,963 gallons of rainwater daily along with our secret tarp-wash bath additive. After they have released the inner beauty of the old tarps and dried them, the tarps are bundled according to colour and sent to the bag designers.
The bag designers ensure that our one-of-a-kind products are not just unique but uniquely beautiful as well. This means creatively working their fingers to the bone. Lara and her co-designers fashion each individual bag by using their templates and cutters to carve the most beautiful and exquisite designs possible from the tarps and then making sure that the rest of the pieces match as well.
Only prototypes and test bags are sewn at the F-actory. We entrust the sewing of your FREITAG bag to experienced partners in Switzerland, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, France, Portugal and Tunisia. These countries understand how to carefully stitch together tarps that are thicker than leather. As soon as the bags are back at Nœrd, we show off our Swiss side and go over the bags with a fine-toothed comb. This ensures that everything is in order so we can select the products that will end up in a crate together according to the secret FREITAG colour scheme. Our most unique products are photographed from every angle and sold online.