The idea behind Freitag has always appealed to me – those rugged but cheeky bags, stitched together from used and weathered lorry tarpaulins, discarded seat belts and bicycle inner tubes. The brand was founded by two brothers in Zurich a few years ago who managed to break their mother’s sewing machine stitching a prototype together; now it’s a big enough operation to have full-time spotters posted at Swiss borders who will zero in on the most attractive-looking lorries and offer to buy their tarpaulins from the owners.
On a recent trip to Zurich, I found that the firm’s HQ was one of the city’s standout sights, made from shipping containers stacked together like a mini skyscraper. But the real discovery was Freitag’s new Reference line. It’s made the same way as the multicolored main line, hand cut from old tarps, but this more grown-up line is sleeker, with less gimmickry, and monochrome in grey, white or red. It looks like hefty leather, but wears as well as industrial plastic – and, given the range’s waterproof coating, bags such as the Murray (pictured, $518) are ideal as gym bags.
I resisted buying a bag in Switzerland, but then got home to find that Freitag’s first stateside store had opened three blocks from my apartment in New York, where I finally succumbed to buying that Murray.