So it seems someone is trying to send me a sign about the bad habit I have got myself into; namely stuffing my pockets with my daily necessities. I have spent the last few days on the hunt for decent man bags for the new Brighterman collection this autumn/winter, I stupidly lost own my bag on the train, and I have just finished reading an article regarding two Mulberry bags that were donated to my local charity shop (gutted I didn’t shop there that day).
So I decided that with the amount of times I have been made to think about bags the last few days, it was only right for us at FashionBeans to put together this guide to men’s bags.
The Rise of The Man Bag
Men are finally changing their opinions on carrying a bag, and the bad habit of stuffing your pockets with everything from your keys and wallet to iPhone and mints is ceasing. The way menswear is progressing, with a move to a slimmer silhouette and the design of our trouser fits getting tighter, stuffing your pockets is becoming impractical, never mind unsightly.
A bag is no longer just seen as a women’s fashion accessory, and the selection available on the market today in fact enables you to add some edge and masculinity to your outfits. A bag is a great addition to any man’s wardrobe, and we are going to be discussing the selection of bags available to you today, as well as what to look for before purchasing.
The overall practicality aspect of a bag is obviously the main reason for owning one; giving you another option in which to carry your phone, wallet, loose change, freshen ups, telephone numbers written on serviettes, iPad, iPod… you get the idea. A bag is an accessory, but if you invest wisely in the correct style, material and colour for your personal style then it will last you a lifetime and become the perfect addition to the capsule wardrobe you are building.
So what are the bag styles you should be looking at this coming season?
Men’s Holdall Bags
Currently a very popular style of bag for men, a classic holdall is perfect for occasions such travel, business and gym use. What was typically a bulky bag in the past has been transformed into a stylish and sleek form of luggage, with the latest collections on the market being a lot lighter in weight.
Holdalls generally give off a very masculine vibe, probably to do with the ‘bigger is better’ ethos that men tend to adopt. As such they look great when paired with classic masculine pieces – think shirts, suiting, tailoring and thick outerwear – as well as some mainstay trends. The Military and Rocker inspired trends are perfect for integrating a holdall, as the large bag produces balance to chunky complimenting footwear such as boots, as well as hard and edgy leather jackets.
The selection of holdalls available these days leaves your options endless, although you cannot go wrong with a classic leather version. This should be seen as an investment for most young men, as this is a bag that you will use throughout your lifetime and never date. The leather will only get better with age, and will tell a story with each distressing and nick it takes on your world travels.
When utilising a leather holdall, try to keep your surrounding pieces classic, timeless and refined like the gentlemen shown below. The sleek lines of the holdall lend itself very well to this type of dressing and the leather holdall is a classy man bag. Canvas versions will adapt much better to trend looks as they are not as limiting as leather – they can be dressed up or down dependant on your mood.
Reminiscent of your youth, backpacks have come on leaps and bounds from the days you use to carry that bulky bag to and from school.
The backpack has become a trend bag to own this year throughout the spring/summer seasons, and it is easy to see why. First off, it was quite rare for a backpack to be spotted on anyone over the age of 16, which of course made them sought after and unique for men to rock. We know how everyone likes to stand out right? Also, the designers started to pay more attention to the backpack, with premium fashion houses and the high street all revamping their offerings which included bold coloured versions, patterned varieties and a mix of fabrics and finishings available.
They are also very versatile and work well within all the current major trends. When you think of all the great outdoors trends we have been seeing recently, what better bag would be suited to the look than a backpack? Navajo, Heritage, Town and Country and even all the Military inspired looks would all benefit from a hard wearing, rugged canvas backpack to finish them off.
The backpack is generally most suitable when utilised in casual looks. This is due to it being synonymous with youth, as well as the fact that most backpacks are made of canvas, which gives off a more relaxed aesthetic when compared to leather. As such, they are great for throwing on at the weekend, taking to the gym or for students but they are typically not suited to the office. Saying that, with the recent progression in design of backpacks, and with many premium designers releasing classy and chic versions, this might just be the clash of styles that could come off as ironic and stylish when done correctly.
So, a canvas backpack is definitely something to consider this coming autumn/winter season. With the bag adding a casual yet effortless touch to your look, it can also be used to add a dash of colour or integrate a bold print. Both of these add some flair and a focal point to your outfit – often neglected in the colder seasons.
Men’s Tote Bags
Generally more suited to the summer seasons, tote bags look set to continue their prominence throughout autumn/winter this year as well. This was due to a large backing from designers in the catwalk previews, who were pairing totes with everything from classic tailoring to thick outerwear and knitwear. Here at FashionBeans we have mentioned a couple of times throughout the spring/summer season that the tote bag is THE major bag trend for 2011.
A simple yet effective way of carrying your necessities, a tote bag is sometimes seen as a women’s shopping bag. The designs currently available disregard this notion though – coming in hard wearing, rugged canvas or classic manly leather varieties. Our favourites from the new season have to be the leather versions (or canvas with leather trims), as they look refined and sharp – perfect for the way menswear is heading over the next few years.
For something a bit different, there are currently a few suede versions on the market that not only look great, but are very unique and individual. The texture and finish of suede gives your accessory that little bit extra and is perfect when you want a real statement piece on your arm.
Other key versions to look out for would be patterned or bold colour totes. Both of these styles are great for adding a shot of life to an outfit; whether you are using them to break up a monochromatic work look or simply using the bag to coordinate and compliment the other colours in your outfit.
Also known as the messenger or an over the shoulder bag, satchels have been popular for a while now due to their functionality. Perfect for a variety of occasions; such as carrying documents to and from college, school or work, carrying goods for travelling or even for gym use, the selection of satchels is probably the biggest on the market currently.
Another benefit of owning a satchel is derived from its practicality. They are so easy to carry, due to the shoulder strap, that they are perfect for the morning and evening commute – where you need to navigate crowds and traffic quickly and efficiently. Lugging around a holdall or tote in this situation is not always practical, whilst backpacks can be a target for thieves as you cannot see what is happening behind you.
Again, when it comes to material, leather satchels lend themselves very well to more refined looks and classic pieces, whilst canvas types will afford you more versatility and ability to adapt to trend looks easier. However, my favourite version this year are the waxed canvas satchels being brought out by true country brands like Barbour, which are not only perfect for hitting the ever present heritage trend, but also just look beautiful. A waxed satchel would be the perfect compliment to a quilted jacket or tweed/cord blazer.
With many men much more receptive to carrying this form of bag, their popularity looks set to increase further as new designs and new collections are developed. A satchel carries with it masculinity, and if the wise words of Alan Garner from the hangover have an impact on us men, look out an influx of satchels on your local high street – “it’s not a purse, it’s called a satchel. Indiana Jones wears one.”
So man bags should definitely have pride of place within any true fashionable gents wardrobe, and hopefully this guide will help you decide what style is for you.
What bag do you use on a daily basis? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.