Switzerland’s Bag Men

Switzerland’s Bag Men

After spending a couple of days digging into the past of the buzzy city of Zurich, a visitor can be completely mellowed out by the beautiful old buildings, historic structures and the cosy vibe of the inner working of the old town. But as pleasant and pretty as Zurich is, there’s the ‘other’ side of town where light industry chugs away and the buildings aren’t going to win the princess pageant.

Zuerich West, Viadukt-Boegen, Frau Gerolds Garten

There are parts of the industrial sector here, but no longer traditional industry or fabrication. And like many diminishing industrial areas throughout European metropolises, neglect and dilapidation were the starting points for gentrification and new beginnings in the 21st century.

Zurich west used to tap along to the sounds of machines and black soot would hang in the air – but now it’s the hippest place to visit in town, Buildings have been renovated and windows made over in a modern way – sympathetic to the past and the people who slogged away here – architecture on every street is innovative and thoughtful. Facades remain and the buildings behind them peep through with a wink to previous generations and a nod to the future.

One such standout here is a building block constructed of steel containers – the flagship store of Freitag.

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Freitag is a ‘bag concept’. Freitag’s original products are made from recycled materials – used truck tarpaulins, car seat belts, air bags and bicycle inner tubes. Because these materials are tough, the products are too. Wonderful bags, wallets, satchels, back packs and overnighters are part of this super cool range – and there is not one product the same as another because they are made from original pieces of tarps, Every Freitag item is an individual.

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The first bag was sewn 24 years ago – a messenger bag sewn by hand from an old tarp. Early pieces were put together in a Zurich apartment by the young founders themselves, two graphic designer brothers Markus and Daniel Freitag. They had been inspired by the multicoloured, heavy freight traffic that hummed through the Zurich transit intersection in front of their apartment.

The first bags were sold out of the brothers’ living room and in 2006 they decided to sell their bags from a store made of freight containers – the ‘floors’ are home to more than 1600 individual bags for sale.

The Freitag Store Zurich is completely built from recycled containers which were gutted, reinforced, piled up and secured. Zurich’s first bonsai skyscraper: low enough not to violate the city’s restrictions on high-rise buildings; high enough to produce vertigo.

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From the Freitag Store Zurich looking into the colour of the west end – the coolest address in town.

Freitag has grown rapidly ever since the first tarps were washed in the brothers’ bathtub. The bag makers have gone from two to around 170 employees, from one to more than 40 bag models, and is now producing cool, and comfortable workwear – t-shirts and shorts and accessories.

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Head west in Zurich to stroll the area and visit the shop that started a worldwide trend and if you can depart that little high-rise without making a purchase, you have more self-control than this writer.

Writer Bev Malzard purchased a cool bag after much deliberation over the colour. Of course I did!

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My bag.

 

FACTS & FIGURES

Headquarters: FREITAG lab. ag / NŒRD, Zurich-Oerlikon, Switzerland

Year founded: 1993

Proprietors: Markus and Daniel Freitag
Number of staff: around 170
Production: around 400,000 products per year

Number of stores: 17 F-Stores, with six in Switzerland (Davos, Flagship Store Zurich, Grüngasse Zurich, Zurich Noerd, Lausanne, Basel), four in Germany (Hamburg, Cologne, Berlin, Frankfurt), one in Milan, one in Vienna, one in Bangkok, one in Taipei, one in Melbourne and two in Tokyo
An Online Store based in Zurich-Oerlikon and 450 retail partners worldwide

Materials used: 390 tons of truck tarpaulins, 150,000 car seatbelts and  15,000 bicycle inner tubes per year

Products: around 40 bags, around 30 accessories and FREITAG F-ABRIC workwear

Visit: www.freitag.ch

Vist here for some fun videos:  https://www.freitag.ch/en/tarpblanche

Read the origins of this tarp tale from rooms to riches from the source:

hhttps://www.freitag.ch/en/about/history

 

 

 

 

 

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Free stuff in Beverly Hills – yes, FREE!

Free stuff in Beverly Hills – yes, FREE!

My previous blog told a tale of my first visit to the city where the Bold and the Beautiful hang out. This one is all about today and as much as a credit card is your token to get through the hallowed gates – there is FREE stuff. Yay! 

Just check out this lineup and see how many items you can tick off the list without having to sell a kidney.

 

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1. Try to spot your favourite celebrities on Rodeo Drive and restaurants around the Golden Triangle – an area ripe for star sightings!

2. Capture a perfect souvenir by snapping a picture in front of the famed Beverly Hills sign in Beverly Gardens Park.

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3. Window shop ’til you drop on Rodeo Drive! These three blocks of luxury shopping are the best in the world for day-dreaming and indulging!

4. Spot your favorite designer, model or other fashion legend on Rodeo Drive’s Walk of Style. Each honoree has a plaque embedded in the sidewalk with their name, a quote and their autograph.

5. Watch the Electric Fountain come alive with varying light and water patterns. Look familiar? The fountain has made appearances in the movie Clueless and the Go-Go’s Our Lips Are Sealed music video.

6. Admire Bijan’s signature Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupé which is nearly always parked outside the Bijan store on Rodeo Drive.

7. Get lost in the vast department stores along Wilshire Blvd – aptly nicknamed Department Store Row. Barneys New York, Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus provide hours of shopping entertainment.

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8. Feel like a celebrity when you walk the red carpet entrance at The Beverly Hills Hotel.

 

9. Admire the silver torso sculpture in the Rodeo Drive median at Dayton Way. “Torso” by world-renowned artist Robert Graham is the symbol for the Rodeo Drive Walk of Style.

10. Head to the edge of town to view the signature Beverly Hills city limits street signs. One is located on the northeast corner of Santa Monica Blvd and Moreno Drive.

11. Strike a pose with the family of statues outside the Fred Hayman commemorative building on North Canon. The building, with eye-catching yellow and white striped awnings, is a recreation of Hayman’s storefront of Giorgio Beverly Hills, the first luxury retailer on Rodeo Drive.

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12. Take a seat on any street in the Golden Triangle and see some of the world’s finest cars whiz by. Ferraris, and Maybachs, and Lamborghinis, oh my!

13. Pick which public art sculpture in Beverly Gardens Park is your favourite, from the wildly colorful Hymn of Life: Tulips by Yayoi Kusama or the stainless steel Erratic that measures 15 feet long.

14. Don’t miss a look at City Hall’s Spanish Renaissance-style architecture, including an eight-story tower with blue, green and gold tiled dome.

15. Head into Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel to admire the beautiful lobby floral display and get a peek inside this famous hotel where Pretty Woman was filmed.

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The original post box in The Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel.

16. Walk just north of Beverly Gardens Park onto a quiet residential neighbourhood and receive a major surprise as you stumble upon a real life Witch’s House! This whimsical cottage was built on a film studio lot and relocated to its current location, where it is used as a private residence.

17. Take a seat inside the lobby of The Beverly Hills Hotel and absorb the luxurious grounds that many celebrities have walked upon throughout the hotel’s 100 year history.

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18. Pause on the 300 Block of Rodeo Drive to see the Frank Lloyd Wright designed “Anderton Court,” marked by the identifiable spiral ramp and triangular tower.

19. Take a somber moment and reflect on the events of 9/11 at the 9/11 Memorial Garden. A structural beam recovered from Ground Zero acts as the centerpiece of this space.

20. Hotel hop! You don’t have to be a guest to check out the impressive exteriors and lobbies of a dozen hotels around town, each with their own interior décor style from mid-century modern to Italian Renaissance.

The Beverly Hilton Hotel.

21. See the state-of-the-art Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts which opened in 2013. The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts transforms a Beverly Hills city block into a vibrant new cultural destination with two distinct, elegant buildings: the historic 1933 Italianate-style Beverly Hills Post Office and the new, contemporary 500-seat, state-of-the-art Goldsmith Theater. Together these two structures embrace the city’s history and future, creating a new cultural landmark.

22. Head up to Greystone Mansion & Park, a legendary estate built by the Doheny family, which is now a park open to the public. Can you find the koi and turtles on the grounds?

 

Greystone Mansion, way up in the rarified air of Beverly Hills.

23. Print a Beverly Hills Walking Tour from LoveBeverlyHills.com or pick one up at the Beverly Hills Visitor Center and then explore the city on foot!

24. Take in the sunshine and sounds of the courtyard’s babbling fountain as you relax, on the grass or at café tables, in Beverly Canon Gardens.

25. Jog on the pedestrian trail down 11 blocks of Beverly Gardens Park. Shaded by ample trees, it’s also a great trail for a leisurely stroll.

 

26. Make your way to the “Mecca for cheese aficionados.” If you call yourself a cheese lover, then you cannot miss the sight – and smell! – of The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills. The staff is delighted to share their extensive knowledge of cheese as well as offer free samples.

27. See the world’s first 24-hour Cupcake ATM at Sprinkles Cupcakes. Though it’s viewable without making a purchase, it’s worth every dollar to try Sprinkles’ signature Red Velvet treats.

28. Indulge your sweet tooth at Edelweiss Chocolates, one of the oldest confectionaries in America that still processes its chocolates by hand. You may have the opportunity to take a tour of their chocolate factory.

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29. Check out the gourmet candy shop Sugarfina and indulge in a sample of their candy at their Tasting Bar. For a specil experience, chat with their Candy Concierge to create a custom Sugarfina gift.
30. Peruse the Beverly Hills Famers’ Market every Sunday from 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. A feast for the senses, the market features farm fresh produce, artisanal packaged foods, and flowers alongside live music and activities for kids.

31. Groove to the sounds of live music – from rockabilly to jazz – in Beverly Canon Gardens during the summertime Concerts on Canon series.

32. Get fit with Lululemon! The fitness apparel retailer offers free yoga classes and a weekly run club, all open to the public at no cost!

33. Wednesday through Sunday, visit The Paley Center for Media where you can access a library of some of the best television programming of the past decades or catch a screening. Visit the Paley Center’s website for daily screening schedules.

34. Explore the literary world at Beverly Hills Public Library. With 2-hour free parking adjacent to the library, you have the time to curl up and read a favorite book.

 

35. Let the Beverly Hills Visitor Center Concierge assist you with all of your needs, from securing sightseeing tour tickets to making dinner reservations at one of the exquisite restaurants.

36. Not quite free, but at just $1 for children under 12 years of age, the Beverly Hills trolley tour is quite a deal! Hop aboard for a 40-minute narrated tour of art, architecture, historical and renowned areas of the city.

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37. Stop by the newly opened Community Dog Park to watch the posh pooches frolic in the fenced-in area. If you wish for your pup to partake, be sure to register in advance as it is exclusive to Beverly Hills residents and those staying in the city.

38. Enjoy two-hour free parking at one of the many City of Beverly Hills operated lots on S. Beverly Drive, Brighton Way, Rexford Drive and N. Canon Drive.

39. Pick up a booklet of Exclusive Offers at the Beverly Hills Visitor Center which can be redeemed at shopping, dining, sightseeing, and spa and salon locations throughout Beverly Hills. Including two-for-one ice cream at Sprinkles and 20% off lunch or dinner at CIRCA 55 at The Beverly Hilton, these special offers are not to be missed!

40. Access free Wi-Fi at many of the local coffee shops and on the Beverly Hills Civic Center grounds.

Visit the Beverly Hills Visitor Center, the gateway to the city! Our Visitor Center Concierge are pleased to help you plan the remainder of your time in Beverly Hills and Los Angeles, provide insider tips and help you shop for Beverly Hills-branded merchandise.

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Beverly Hills – the first time around

Beverly Hills – the first time around

Just returned from a sensational trip to Beverly Hills, California and I came back satisfied and with memories of inspired shopping, friendly natives and a relaxed and inclusive vibe.

It was many years ago that I first strolled the streets of Beverly Hills. I admit I was a bit of an inverted snob and didn’t really want to connect with what I perceived as brashness, shallowness and the high and mighty exclusivity of the bold and beautiful; less than six square miles of high maintenance characters and unrealistic real estate desires.

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In fact, I was intimidated and nervous about entering shops to check out the fashion, I expected to get the ‘Pretty Woman’ treatment. And indeed I met many a fashionable boutique skeleton who had no interest in me nor my credit card with its small limit.

I stayed at the Beverly Hills Peninsula which was and is pretty classy and I now thank the Peninsula for my bed linen buying habits – it was all about the bed I slept in at the hotel. After sliding around on that thread count – you can’t go back.

I took off on an adventure from that wonderful hotel and caught a local bus downtown. This was such a social faux pas! Nobody walked in Beverly Hills and busses weren’t even considered a form of civilised transport. But I had a chat with my fellow travellers and exited the bus in a lovely Mexican market precinct. I ate great food, shopped and purchased an excellent pair of riding boots. The boots were not of the Big Label ilk, they were made in Mexico and they cost me about $50.

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On my return to the hotel, the doorman drew me aside and quietly asked me to hand over my shopping bags (all scrappy white plastic bags). He whisked  them away and before I actually entered the foyer he handed me two rather large and spiffy paper bags with Beverly Hills Peninsula written across the front.

Would madam like to try on a Chanel bracelet?

I went red and realised that I has come close to shaming him, the hotel and myself! But instead of sheepishly slinking away I sashayed through the hotel like I owned it, swinging my ‘shopping’ bags. Without turning into a total wanker, that taught me the lesson that it doesn’t take much to feel at home in the world of the rich and famous:

  • Dress suitably and nicely;
  • Walk with your head high and smile at your fellow rich bastards, they’ll always smile back;
  • Act as if – there’s no shame in taking your place in the world of the rich and famous, they’re lucky to have you.
  • DON’T carry anything around in a plastic bag.

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The Beverly Hilton, the original part of the building – it’s rad to be retro.

Over the years, this has worked well for me, and on a recent visit to Beverly Hills, me being older and wiser, I stayed at another beautiful hotel, was welcomed like a long-lost rich bastard, and I was at home as soon as I saw the beautiful bed linen.

The hotel had a private car for special guests (yep, me) and me in a cool and worldly manner said to the driver, “this is a lovely car, what is it”, he coolly replied, “this is a new Rolls Royce Ghost madame”. So much for the local busses . . .

Writer Bev Malzard travelled under her own steam the first time around. And she still has the boots she purchased and sleeps on a million thread sheets!

Beverly Hills – the first time around