Dexter Peart has been wearing the same pair of Vans for years. “He buys them on replenishment order, like two or three pairs at a time,” his twin brother Byron explains. “More like four,” Dexter interjects, as Byron chuckles, anticipating the next thought. “To get the free shipping.”
Like a tennis match, the discussion goes as the two founders at the helm of luxury leather goods and lifestyle brand WANT Les Essentials de La Vie consider the debut of their first footwear collection. They’re in Vancouver for the opening of their first retail space on the west coast. Back and forth, sparking new ideas and train of thought as they propel the conversation forward, fast and furious. It’s the “twin condition”, they both concede. WANT’s new sleek leather, oxford-style sneaker, and classic derby shoe featuring a high performance sole are the stars of their first outing for spring 2015, so it’s safe to say Dexter will have retired his $45 habit by now. But the philosophy behind their motivation to participate in the footwear game is deeply rooted in the routine.
“When I’m running around these are the most comfortable shoes that I have,” Dexter says. “They’re easy, they’re versatile. You know, I can trust them. They’re consistent. Every time I buy them, they’re exactly the same. So we wanted to do something in line with the aesthetic of our brand: clean, sort of sophisticated, at the same time accessible.”
Since the Montreal-based brand’s launch in 2006, Byron and Dexter Peart have created the definitive line of minimal leather goods designed first for function, considering the needs of an every day professional on the go, and second with architectural-inspired sleek simplicity. Housing the essentials, such as the new iPod of their first year in business, was part of the picture. Working as twin brothers, alongside each other for each and every step, is part of it too.
“I think our time together always activated this sense of curiosity about why some things don’t exist,” Dexter says. “So even today, we’re walking down the street and it’s like little antennae go off, directed toward the things that are not there, as opposed to the things that are there. And questioning why they aren’t there. That was the impetus for starting this. I’m looking for things to carry this stuff, but I can’t find anything to carry it in.” In conversation, and an acute sense of observation, Dexter and Byron seem to live each day with an omnipresent narrative. They notice every detail, and the Peart brothers think of everything—especially while they travel.
“The one thing that the airplanes completely miss—if you just give everyone a hot towel,” Dexter laments. “It doesn’t require much but a towel and hot water. It’s the most exciting moment I have on a plane, for two seconds. And for two seconds you have this moment of peace.”
2014 was a year of firsts for WANT Les Essentials de la Vie. The Montreal-based brand opened a retail concept WANT Apothecary in Montreal, and added other stores in key cities across North America; they stepped outside their unisex philosophy to debut a line of handbags specifically made for women; and WANT put forward its inaugural showcase at the famed menswear show Pitti Uomo in Florence for Spring 2015, a fitting location to announce the brand’s first footwear collection. Inspired by “Island Life”, and “Island Time”, the Peart brothers took inspiration from their Jamaican heritage.
“There’s a renewed appreciation for things that are slow, things that are considered, things that are detailed, that are about quality,” Byron says. “But in the real world, it moves fast. You have a dog, you have a family. You move from one place to another. You don’t do business in a static environment. There’s a healthy respect for that as well too. The brand is always a careful balancing act, between that idea of having a five-hour journey with a newspaper, and at the same time you’re on Instagram.”
Dexter agrees. “I love the fact that I can do more with my phone tomorrow than I could a year ago, so I don’t want to thwart that. But in another way I want to respect the time, the love and appreciation for things. For the moments and the travel experiences you have,” he says. “Personally, I yearn for it all the time. I hope that we can give that back. Like the slow food, slow fashion movement. I think it’s the blueprint we want to be in and I think it works very well with the journeyman.”
The Lennon sneaker and the Montoro derby have all the considered details one would expect from WANT. Premium Italian calf leather, padded interior, waxed cotton laces and a completely custom, high performance cup sole, innovated for ultimate comfort and sleek style. There is a sense that WANT has, really, thought of everything.