The SCOUT Bag was designed to fill a void in the tote market— offering style, function, and affordability in one bag with multi-uses. Deb Waterman Johns and Ben Johns and noticed a unique material being used by Chinese street vendors to store their goods, which remained relatively untapped in the design world. Deb had come across it twice before, both times during the '80s in Soho, NYC: The shopping bag from Dianne B, which became her favorite tote for the summer and the other from a company called Wolfman-Gold & Good, a high end home goods store in Soho. The bag was patterned in an exaggerated gray and white check and became the perfect schlep bag for travel.
Not long after, while working as a color and trend forecaster in New York, Deb traveled overseas for a color meeting with Interstoff Asia in Milan. She was on her way back to the hotel before getting on her flight to leave, and she walked by Helmut Lang and saw the plaid Chinese vendor bag in the window with a true leather bottom and a Helmut Lang insignia on the side. She was thrilled to find a bag at the upper end of the fashion market and bought it for $450. She called Ben with the news, and the SCOUT bag was born.
Having purchased these bags at the highest end of the market and at the very bottom end of the market, Deb and Ben knew there was a need for a middle ground — the same fabric was being used but in different styles and with different detailing. In the states, consumers like to have proof that whatever they are buying into is going to be around for a while. There are very few outliers in the fashion world outside of New York and L.A. so when trends appear on the street and in the designer shops at the same time, these looks are likely to meet in the middle and become directional and very commercial in the market.