When John Peters, the guy who created the modern messenger bag, invites you up to his home in Saugerties, N.Y., to see his latest project, you go and look. But mostly you listen. Peters, whose tall and skinny frame can be attributed to the years he spent climbing in New York, New Hampshire and beyond, touches on about 20 things at the same time — from A.T.V.’s to Levon Helm’s Midnight Rambles. But it’s talk about his latest collection of bags, called Peters Mountain Works, that overshadows all. The line is the culmination of many things: the sewing skills that Peters’s mother taught him growing up in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; the collection of packs he later started in New York with a fellow climber he met at the Shawangunks; the now ubiquitous line of cordura messenger bags that Peters created (that line, with the red and white skyscraper logo), which would begin its takeover of Manhattan in the early 1980s — “a little hillbilly line from Upstate,” he calls it, though it was anything but.
Peters Mountain Works is, in fact, something that the designer/climber has had on the back burner since the ’70s. It was Asa Nishijima, a friend from Woodstock, N.Y., who urged him to revive the line using the original PMW label. “I wanted to take Peters’s philosophy, his know-how and the techniques that he’s either evolved or invented, and make a product that’s very now,” says Nishijima, who designs the line with Peters in his workshop — a small, modern wood structure a few yards from his house. The first official collection, which includes everything from day packs to duffels, comes in a great range of colors and is sold at department stores in Japan and in the United States at Wilderness Workshop and Hickorees Hard Goods. Even so, Peters says, “I always make what I want to make. I don’t care if people want to buy it.” Lucky for him, we do.
Peters Mountain Works bags, starting at $80. Go to Wilderness Workshop and Hickorees Hard Goods.