Nearly two decades ago, designers Monica Zwirner and Lucy Wallace Eustice launched a brand called MZ Wallace to create the kind of bags that they wanted but couldn’t find on the market: bags that were both highly functional and stylish, that allowed you to carry around everything you needed to get through a busy day.
The brand now has a cult following around its nylon, waterproof, and stain-resistant bags, with many straps for different carrying options. While MZ Wallace originally marketed its products to women, the brand’s products aren’t particularly feminine, and over the years, men have purchased backpacks, gym bags, and tote bags. One particular duffle bag, known as the Jim Bag, is particularly popular with NFL players and other fitness professionals.
Today, MZ Wallace launches its first-ever line designed specifically for men: the Bleecker Collection. The line consists of pieces like messenger bags, backpacks, Dopp kits, and briefcases that come in either black or camo blue.
Zwirner and Eustice did plenty of consumer research as they designed the collection. They discovered that men were concerned with finding bags that were durable and that have a very specific purpose, while women tend to weigh the aesthetics of the bag along with its functionality. As a result, they picked a particular nylon fabric that looks very hardy and structured, and the brand makes it very clear what each bag is for. The smaller messenger, for instance, is perfect for toting around an iPad, while the larger messenger can hold a laptop. The duffle bag is designed for the gym and for travel, complete with a sleeve that fits on top of roller luggage.
Women tend to be comfortable buying products originally marketed at men. For instance, female consumers are known to buy razors, deodorants, even underwear designed and marketed to men. But historically, it’s been less common for men to buy products from brands associated with women. But MZ Wallace’s founders believe that times are changing, and men feel less constrained by rigid gender distinctions.
“I think men are able to spot a good product when they see one, regardless of the origins of the brand,” Zwirner says.
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