Montreal-born twins Dexter Peart and Byron Peart came up through the fashion industry together, working in marketing for brands such as Diesel and Miss Sixty, starting a distribution business, and then embarking on their own line of travel accessories in 2007. Since then, Want Les Essentiels De La Vie has developed a cult following among retailers like Opening Ceremony and Paris-based Colette due to its fine craftsmanship and intuitive, functional design.
Fast Company: How did Want start?
DP: It started with us. We were traveling back and forth [a lot] between our offices in Montreal, which we’ve made our hub, and New York. We were looking for a [travel] solution that would move seamlessly into our lives.
BP: There are two pillars in the brand: There’s this notion of desire, and there’s les essentiels de la vie. We’re thinking of customers like that: If they need their phone, how does their backpack need to work for them?
How does that play out when you’re collaborating with another brand–say J.Crew or Barneys, both of which you’ve teamed up with in the past?
BP: The first question for us is not how to design something pretty that’s J.Crew. It’s what does J. Crew not have? The first time we did a collaboration, we went to the J.Crew website and typed “organic” in search, and nothing came up. So we said, “Let’s present a collaboration called Want Organic for J.Crew.” Just as we are committed to designing and producing the highest-quality products, we are equally dedicated to ensuring all aspects of our business are socially and ethically responsible. The collaborations let us step outside of our wheelhouse and extend our creative reach.
So obviously, materials are important to you.
DP: There are three main components in the materials we use to make the bag: the leather, the organic cotton, and the zipper. It’s really important for us to show the quality of the product as opposed to distracting from it. [The zipper is] also one of our branding executions. It’s two-tone: silver on one side, gold on the other. It speaks of the blurred lines of our brand: the French and English, the old code of luxury mixed with a modernity our customers want today.
Where or how do you seek out creative inspiration?
We travel together a lot, and are inspired by the many elements in the cities we visit and discovering the culture, the architecture, and the local experience of life.
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?
DP: I kiss my two daughters good morning
What is one thing about your job that you think would surprise people?
How much time we spend in airports.
What’s your favorite Twitter or Instagram account and why?
What are some things you do to refresh your mind when you’re in a rut?
BP: Take a walk around the office
Who outside of your field inspires you the most and why?
BP: Dieter Rams. We try our best to follow his 10 guiding principles of good design.
DP: Ilse Crawford. She creates unique environments for the art of living.