John Peters New York: Original Brilliance


A backpack is just a backpack, right? And it’s always been just a backpack, right?

Wrong. Backpacks weren’t always the way we know and love them today. That only happened around the 1970s and 1980s. But while there are a few unique and original styles coming out, most of today’s backpacks just seem to be versions of same thing.

That’s probably because many of them are — in fact, many are copies of the original 1980s John Peters New York backpack designs. That claim may sound hard to back up, but it’s actually not: designer and avid outdoorsman, John Peters, was at the front of backpack technology.

Mr. Peters greatest contribution was changing the material from canvas to nylon, now almost universally used. He also saw the interest in using plastic zippers and closures instead of metal, making the backpack more lightweight. Do those things seem simple? They are now, but they weren’t when he did it.

Dozens, perhaps hundreds, of other brands (such as the ubiquitous Jansport) copied the original John Peters New York backpack designs, which is a big reason why so many backpacks look alike today. But while other brands were copying the original, John Peters New York and its designer were looking forward, inventing, redesigning, and perfecting.

That’s why today John Peters New York backpacks capture a certain original brilliance that many brands lack. They never lost the pioneering spark from which they were made, but didn’t get stuck in the rush to copy at ever cheaper prices. John Peters New York prides itself on just focusing on how to make its backpacks better by doing what it’s always done: innovate. 

To find out more about the history of JPNY and browse the collection for yourself, visit 

John Peters School bags

John peters student backpack

John Peters New York