“Complete overhaul” typically alludes to one thing – past failures. If a company decides to remake a product from the ground up, it’s a safe bet that the product wasn’t functioning, lasting, or selling well. Why spend the resources to fix something that isn’t broken, right? Every once in awhile, though, that isn’t the case.
Today, Peak Design launches the updated version of its Everyday line: a backpack, messenger bag, sling, and tote for travelers, commuters, hikers, cafe-goers, students and photographers. The San Francisco-based company is renowned for innovative and sleek designs, winning seven major awards and numerous smaller accolades for the Everyday line alone. Since 2011, Peak Design has raised over $15 million on six different Kickstarter campaigns too, with $6.5 million coming from the original Everyday line.
Not only has that record made Peak Design the most successful Kickstarter company in history, but it also helped the brand build a feverishly loyal base of consumers. It’s a community that readily offers what Art Viger, Peak Design’s Lead Designer, jokingly describes as “more feedback than we often know what to do with.” But Peak Design certainly doesn’t ignore it. Integrating this swath of knowledge into a new product, like the Everyday V2 line, takes time. Curious how the team invested years of R&D into an already beloved bag collection, we called Viger to learn more about how they did it.
Q: What is Everyday V2?
A: The V2 line distills everything that made the original packs great, plus everything we’ve learned in the last couple of years through feedback, new hires, new ideas and new inputs. The company has grown, and the design team has vastly improved since we made the original pack. We are now better at reimagining products that are better, faster, and stronger while staying true to the original goals of the Everyday line.
Q: What were those goals?
A: The Everyday line has always been about crossover versatility. Most other camera bag companies basically make a camera bag and then try to make it not look like a camera bag. We see this differently. We wanted a bag that offered protection, organization and carrying function, but one that isn’t necessarily for camera gear. For instance, Everyday’s access is what resonated with customers – not just photographers.
Q: What are the major changes in V2?
A: The new version is a complete overhaul. Almost everything has changed. The silhouette of the pack may look the same, but the actual design and engineering have little to no carryover. The patterning approach is quite different, with complex, darted panels. We eliminated topstitching, meaning the new packs have reduced opportunity for loose threads or seams to fail. This also reduces water entry points. Less bulk, too.
Q: Any difference in the materials you’re using?
A: Yes, a lot. All of the fabrics are updated. We have Bluesign approved coating on most of the fabric. Most of the major fabrics are recycled, and we now employ solution dying on some of the colorways. We’re working really hard to make our packs more sustainable on many levels. We use a lot of stretch materials, which helps with pocketing and organization.
Q: What were the biggest challenges in the process?
A: By far, trying not to mess up a good thing. The original bags have won major design and industry awards, and more importantly, our customers love them. We’ve had incredibly positive reviews. To be honest, we were terrified to mess up a good thing but felt a need to update the packs to a new level of design. The biggest challenge was distilling what makes V1 great and not deviating from that. That’s really hard to do while taking some big design swipes and redesigning from the group up. We wanted to remove and add features without disappointing people on both sides.
Q: How many new versions of the bags did you work through?
A: Some bags have as many as 20 revisions until we get to a final design. Typically after seven or eight iterations, we format freeze, and the rest of the prototypes are all about refinement. Then testing begins – UV testing, cycle testing, basically just beat it up and find the weak points that break first. Eventually, you get a golden sample, which you use as the mold for production. All of our bags are made from that.
Q: What’s the biggest sustainability improvement?
A: Honestly, probably the zipper. It sounds silly, but zippers are where most bags fail, and then get thrown away. We’ve tested the new zipper thousands of times, and it still hasn’t shown wear and tear. Broken zippers put bags in landfills. They are super hard to repair or replace. The longer bags last, the longer we can use them, and the fewer people have to buy.
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