Sweet 18 for Freitag

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Published May 5, 2011

After 18 years creating durable and colorful utility bags for the European masses, the iconic Freitag is finally arriving Stateside. Turning trash into treasure or at least accessories, Freitag (it means Friday in German) uses repurposed truck tarps and seat belts to create one-of-a-kind, durable and colorful utility bags. The line was started by Daniel and Markus Freitag, two Swiss brothers, who decided to make their own version of utility bags after being inspired by New York bike messengers. For Markus Freitag, a devoted cyclist, the line was born out of necessity. “On a day like today, if you go on your bicycle and it’s raining—if it was a leather bag, you don’t go out. You stay at home because of your bag.”

With the opening of their first store in Manhattan, at the corner of Prince and Bowery across from the New Museum, the brothers are looking ahead by highlighting their new “Reference” line. While still maintaining the functionality of all Freitag bags, the “Reference” line is a bit more subdued and refined. The line was inspired by messengers of an earlier era—those that got around on horseback. Evoking equestrian utility, the bags feature dual buckles and a double-lined flap to ensure all your valuables are secure—whether or not you’re riding the Pony Express. For the brothers, this idea of function is always of the utmost importance in their designs, says Markus. “It’s not that we follow the fashion cycle… It’s more product design. I don’t feel every season you have to make everything new. It’s a more sustainable way of doing fashion.”

The brother’s unique ability to blend form and function has influenced the design of their store as well. Rather than racks upon racks of messenger bags, each item is carefully packed away in a simple cardboard box with a picture of the enclosed bag on the outside. The result looks a bit like an extremely fashionable pharmacy, albeit one that is frequented by avid cyclists. Aside from its functionality, the store’s design has already piqued the interest of a few curious New Yorkers, said Markus. “The shelf system attracts a lot of people. During the construction, people were up against the window saying, ‘Oh, it’s a shoe store. No, there must be medicine in the drawers!'”