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Q: A friend recently told me that if I went to Zurich, Switzerland, I should stop by the Freitag bag store. I had never heard of these accessories. But apparently they’re quite famous in Europe. What’s up with that?

A: Far be it from us to give free advertising to the Freitag operation, but the story of two graphic designer brothers and their success is a pretty cool “bags-to-riches” story.

It seems that in 1993, Markus and Daniel Freitag wanted a sturdy, waterproof bag to use when biking around the city — the common mode of transportation for many in Europe. They couldn’t find what they wanted, so they invented it.

According to the company Web site, the brothers were inspired by the colorful traffic on the highway extension in front of their apartment. So they looked for materials in what they saw.

They sewed together a messenger bag from an old truck tarp, took seat belts for straps and used a spare bicycle inner tube to keep the edges from fraying. And voila! The first Freitag bag was born.

The colorful bags are now sold internationally (and they cost a pretty penny.) And they’re still produced at a factory near that original highway extension.

And, the flagship store in Zurich is made with the same “reduce, reuse, recycle,” mindset. It is built of recycled freight containers, piled one on top of the other.

Got a question about goings-on Europe? E-mail Stripes at: news@estripes.osd.mil

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