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This Men's Brand Thinks It Knows What Women WANT

Photos by <a href="http://drielys.com">Driely S.</a> for Racked.
Photos by Driely S. for Racked.

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"Sometimes we think of ourselves as a solutions company over a design company," Byron Peart, one half of the design force behind bag line WANT Les Essentiels de la Vie, told Racked as he and co-designer Dexter Peart walked us through the brand's first women-specific offerings. After seven years offering rich, minimal leather totes, backpacks, briefcases and more with guys in mind, the Montreal-based brand is attacking the handbag market, launching the new range exclusively with Barneys, their very first retailer.

Dexter explained WANT aims to fill the void between lower-priced bag lines "with less attention to raw materials" and designer brands in the luxury stratosphere that are doing beautiful things but with skyrocketing price tags. "Easy," is a word he came back to again and again, saying they tried to create an investment bag for their customer that fits into "the real way she lives—not the caricature of how she's supposed to live." This translates to details like zippers that go both directions to make entry points foolproof, heavy-duty hidden magnets that allow bags to be opened extra wide and quickly snapped closed, and internal pockets designed to organize iPads, phones, and cards.

The City Crossbody, front and center.

The hidden magnet under the tab (left) allow the bag to open extra wide (right).

The women's collection is tightly edited, consisting of the City Crossbody ($595), the Douglas in large ($1,495), and mini ($1,295), and their existing O'Hare Tote ($950), done in a new leather quality that has a touch of sheen, making it "three percent dressier," said Dexter. It was important to the duo that the bags they offer women be lightweight yet durable, structured but still soft. Colors are based in black, a deep red aptly named "Pinot," and what Dexter dubbed a "versatile brown." At Barneys' Madison Avenue flagship in Manhattan, the bags will sit on the eighth floor with like-minded designers Alexander Wang and 3.1 Phillip Lim.

Pared down has always been the brand's thing. Through restraint in design, the designers find more people are able to access their products and call them their own. "It's like an Eames chair: It can be in any room and look great," said Dexter. These bags aren't intended to be the focal point of the outfit, but rather a beautiful tool, passively integrated into the daily grind. As the name translates: the essentials of life.

· WANT Les Essentiels de la Vie Women's [Barneys]