The venture Freitag: From recycled bags to sustainable fashion

Abstract

The Swiss venture Freitag, founded in 1993 by the two brothers Daniel and Markus Freitag, pioneered the idea of product upcycling by producing functional and fashionable bike messenger bags out of used truck tarpaulins. Relying on its unique raw material of recycled truck tarps, Freitag developed a coherent brand identity and gradually extended its product portfolio of bags and accessoires over the years. From 2009 to 2014 however, Freitag engaged in a development process of manufacturing sustainable clothing which meant nothing less than the entry into an entirely new product category and market. For Freitag, this step constituted a core strategic investment decision, which would have major consequences on its innovation, marketing and branding activities. Due to Freitag’s self-understanding as a sustainability-oriented and design-driven business venture, the challenge was to come up with a profitable clothing collection which would not only meet the venture’s high sustainability critieria but also its aspiration to produce functional and stylish fashion. Yet, the Freitag brothers still had to decide which customer segment they should primarily target with their new product offering. Should they primarily accommodate the needs of these customers which bought Freitag products because of their design and stlye or should they priortize the segment of sustainability-conscious consumers? Or should they even target the mass market with their new product? To reach a well-informed decision, the Freitag brothers had to develop a fine awareness for the peculiarities of Freitag’s brand identity and an in-depth understanding of the socio-ecological impact of sustainable fashion. As two professionally trained designers, Daniel and Markus felt committed to the idea of holistic design-thinking and therefore strived to approach these issues in an integrated fashion, from the procurement and design stage all the way down to the marketing and branding of their products.

AuthorReinhard von Wittken
InstitutionTUM School of Management (TU Munich)
Competition Year2017
PlaceFirst Prize
TrackCorporate Sustainability
Key WordsSustainability Fashion Entrepreneurship
CoursesSustainable Finance, Strategic Management, Finance, Business Sustainability, Business and Society, or Environmental Entrepreneurship
Target AudienceMBAs, Undergraduates
Permission rightsThis case is part of the oikos free case collection. Download a free online copy below. If you are a faculty member and you are interested in teaching this case, you can request a free teaching note by sending us an email to freecase@oikos-international.org.
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posted June 19, 2017

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