Sales of Freitag bags have increased in Singapore, but the Swiss brand does not plan to open standalone store

Executive Vice-Pleasident for Global Happiness Allan Dransfield at multi-label lifestyle store Actually at Orchard Gateway on Feb 28, 2020. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

SINGAPORE- Unlike many fashion brands, Zurich-based bag brand Freitag refuses to open a store in a shopping mall.

"It's too commercial," said Mr Douglas Koh, 29, the brand's full-time South-east Asian ambassador, last Friday (Feb 28). "We are a niche brand and we go for things that are eccentric and offbeat."

While Freitag does not have a standalone store in Singapore, its bags have been sold here since 2006. They are now sold at 12 locations, including department store Tangs and cell phone accessory store Ante in Takashimaya, up from five locations three years ago. Prices range from $150 for a small shoulder bag to $1,380 for Zippelin, an 85 litre travel bag.

Although Freitag has seen sales increase in Singapore, the company does not plan to open a street side store anytime soon. Singapore's weather is too hot, said Mr Koh, explaining that the hot climate might deter customers from walking down open-air streets.

Freitag was founded by Swiss graphic designers Markus and Daniel Freitag in 1993 and is found in 21 countries these days. Freitag bags are unusual in that they are made primarily from old truck tarpaulins, which are washed and formed into bags. As each piece of tarp collected by the company is different, every bag is unique.

"I love that each bag is one-of-a-kind. Even if the bag comes from the same truck tarp as another, they are still different," said Ms Pamela Seto, 67, a homemaker who owns over 40 Freitag bags.

Mr Allan Dransfield, 38, a Freitag representative who was in Singapore last week, also spoke about the brand's emphasis on sustainability. Pointing to its use of truck tarps that are at least five to 10 years old, he said: "Our philosophy is to create materials and bags from existing products. It's about giving things a next life."

A Freitag fan, who wants to be known only as Charles, owns nearly 100 of the brand's bags. "I like Freitag's concept of reusing materials," said the 47-year-old, who did not want to disclose his occupation.

The idea of circularity is also what drives Freitag's Happiness project here in Singapore. Mr Dransfield, who is in charge of this project, aims to increase happiness among people around the world. "We want to create happiness that just bounces around, like a butterfly effect."

As part of his project, Mr Dransfield played a game of pick-up sticks with customers during his visit last Friday (Feb 28) to multi-label lifestyle store Actually at Orchard Gateway, which sells Freitag bags.

The Happiness project started in 2018 as part of Freitag's 25th anniversary and has been carried out in 18 countries so far.

Said Mr Dransfield: "It's all about slowing down and living in the moment."

Join ST's Telegram channel here and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.