Thought there wasn't enough variety? Now it is endless.
Regular readers will know that we are quite fond of FREITAG bags and have been covering them since we started. They are made from used truck tarps that are common in Europe and old seatbelts, totally recycled. Every one is different, and every store presents the buyer with an almost overwhelming choice of colours and patterns.
However, that apparently isn't enough; the company says, "Time and time again we hear questions like: 'Have you got his bag in pale blue?', 'Yellow handles would be cool to go with it', or 'Haven’t you got a crazier version of this?' FREITAG could do this, making the front, bottom and back from different colours or patterns. Managing a store with that kind of choice would be insane."
That's what is so interesting about FREITAG's new "sweat-it-yourself" shop in Zurich. You pick the materials off the rack and participate in the assembly yourself. Being Swiss, they probably don't get the sweatshop or sweat factory reference in English, which Wikipedia defines as "a pejorative term for a workplace that has very poor, socially unacceptable working conditions." This operation is anything but.
FREITAG is transferring the final stages of production and the entire responsibility for the bag’s design to future owners, in its newly converted micro-factory in Grüngasse in Zurich’s district 4. The sheer amount of color choices for tarp pieces that go into the F718 BUH shopper will probably have our part-time bag makers in the new Sweat-Yourself-Shop perspiring more heavily than the production work itself.
Sweatshop workers, a.k.a. customers, "switch on the conveyor system and then, no matter how good (or bad) your taste," pick out the front, back, bottom and flap. They then cut out the pieces using a template, play with a supersonic welding machine, and pass it over to the pros to sew and rivet it all together. "Then, your job is done – so we’ll give you an after-work drink to enjoy while you wait for your unique bag to be finished."
The FREITAG one-off is for people who like doing things for themselves, are better than the rest, and are factory fetishists with and without taste as well as all other Do-it-Yourselfies.
One of the complaints that always comes up in comments is how expensive FREITAG bags are, so I was hoping that this one might be cheaper, given that the purchaser is doing much of the labor. Alas, it is still no bargain at 250 Swiss francs, which at time of this writing is almost exactly 250 US$. But like every other FREITAG bag, it will last a lifetime.
FREITAG bags are an acquired taste; my brother-in-law says I am probably the only person over 30 to carry one. My daughter thinks it is the ugliest thing she ever saw. I happen to love it, so excuse the enthusiasm.