The sustainable Swiss brand FREITAG, known for their bags and accessories made from used truck tarpaulins, has always stood for individualism. With the new digital tool F-Cut, FREITAG now offers its customers the opportunity to design their very own super unique items. The idea behind it was born 20 years ago – and comes from a DEPT® employee.
Desire for more uniqueness
Each of the approximately 300,000 FREITAG bags and accessories produced each year is unique. A large proportion is manufactured in Zurich, where the truck tarpaulins are dismantled and washed by FREITAG employees before the bag designers cut out the best motifs with their cutter knives and templates and these are then processed into bags.
So far, so good. But more and more often, customers inquire in the FREITAG stores whether a specific bag is also available in another color, with this or that motif. The bag makers have taken these requests for (even) more uniqueness to heart – and fell back on the diploma thesis in which DEPT® employee Severin Klaus invented, designed and programmed the first F-Cut for FREITAG 20 years ago.
Democratisation of bag design
The DEPT® team in Switzerland has been working with FREITAG since 2020 and has, among other things, implemented a bag swapping campaign on Tinder for the brand. Now FREITAG approached us to awaken the online cutting table F-Cut from its slumber together with bag and UX designers, logisticians and many other experts.
The following positioning and visions were defined in a preliminary project:
Democratisation of bag design
Every interested customer should have the opportunity to design their own unique bag according to their own taste, beyond all design guidelines.
Bringing FREITAG’s values to life
Sustainability and individualism come first. The FREITAG Sweat-Yourself-Shops are to be transported from the physical to the digital world by means of F-Cut.
Revival of a classic
The new F-Cut is to be as good as the multiple award-winning 20-year-old original, but even more user-friendly and contemporary.
Linking the offline world with the online world
F-Cut offers a unique combination of rough & real materials with digital perfection and a smooth product configuration – no matter on which device, including 3D preview in real time. In this way, the offline world of FREITAG is linked to the online world thanks to a unique experience.
For F-Cut, DEPT® not only implemented the UX, UI and the 3D preview, but also the back- and frontend. The visual identity and the texts were created by FREITAG.
From a technical perspective, F-Cut is a web application that combines various systems. On the one hand, there is of course the F-Cut app – the GUI – in which FREITAG customers configure their bags. Then there is the F-Cut backend with a headless CMS, which primarily provides a database and communicates via API with the checkout (FREITAG online store) and of course the F-Cut app. In addition, there are further admin interfaces with everyday tarpaulin management functions (configuration, orders, etc.) and tarpaulin upload, editor and export (DXF) for production.
Bag dreams come true
For the first release, the focus was on the KISS principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid): we limited ourselves to one bag type, the Messenger Bag F712 DRAGNET, which can be designed using four virtual templates from a selection of 20-50 different truck tarps. The designable bag types could be expanded in the future or the bag type could change at fixed intervals.
In order to ensure fairness and equality, new tarpaulins are silently added to the system to exclude disputes about the “good” tarpaulin pieces. Another important aspect for FREITAG was the balance between maximum design freedom and sustainability: leftover tarpaulins are used for accessory products.
Already before the go-live, F-Cut triggered enthusiasm both among the DEPT® and FREITAG teams. Several further development projects are already planned: more products and features are to follow. 20 years after the birth of the idea, F-Cut has finally awoken from its slumber and will continue to grow steadily.
Over 20 years ago, I got to implement F-Cut as a student one-man show – to rethink this project now, with the support of a fantastic team, both on the DEPT® side and on the customer side, while exploiting the possibilities of today’s technology, is a great privilege.
Severin Klaus, Tech Director, DEPT®
Head of Consulting & Project Management
Marks & Spencer