FREITAG Stores Are Full of Cardboard and Chopped Up Old Tarps. How Do They Look So Good?


Every bag they make is different, which creates a real marketing and display problem.

FREITAG has been making bags out of used vinyl fabric from the sides of European trucks since 1993, and I suspect that almost every single one is still in service. The fabric is tough and the straps are old seat belts, all materials that last almost forever. Margaret described them:

Perhaps what is most remarkable about Freitag is that it is the antithesis of fast-fashion. The first messenger bag designs, introduced 25 years ago, are still for sale. Some designs may be retired, but the introduction of new items operates completely outside of the fashion world's arbitrary seasons. The price tag is comparable to some haute couture handbags, but the design and durability will outlast them.

Lloyd Alter/ a truck on the autobahn/CC BY 2.0

But as I noted in my post about buying my bag in Berlin, they have a marketing challenge. Because they are made from used tarps from the sides of trucks (they can pack in more stuff and it is easier to access than solid sides), every bag is different. It's harder than marketing shoes, where you have lots of different styles but you can keep the different sizes in the back room; in this case the customer has to be able to look at every bag.

big bag on display

Lloyd Alter/ big bags in Freitag store/CC BY 2.0

So the stores are basically a wall of cardboard boxes, with little pictures of the bag inside. It's hard to make a good looking store out of a wall of cardboard, but they pull it off by leaving a few boxes pulled out and using them for a sort of minimalist display. Really, these stores are built out of almost nothing.

Freitag interior of store

© FREITAG/ Nils Claus

That's why we're showing this new store in Seoul Apgujeong, South Korea. They are displaying 1100 bags in just 66m2, or 710 square feet, a lot of bags in a small space. They gutted the existing store back to the load-bearing elements:

And because the Swiss, with all their mountains, can’t resist building tunnels, or because every highway service station needs both an entry and an exit, they decided to take out the wall to the backyard while they were about it. So, the new Seoul Apgujeong FREITAG Store now offers our Korean truck tarp bag fans direct access to a business-free garden for spontaneous time-outs and laid-back parties, where they can also give one of the three rescued trees a gentle hug.
Interior of store

© FREITAG/ Nils Claus

Talk about being treehugger correct: an exposed structure, a recycled product, a cardboard display system and trees to hug. I would ruin it all if I mentioned what these bags cost.