Is The ‘Man Bag’ The Latest Victim Of Masculinity?

It wasn’t long ago when the words ‘man bag’ were on everyone’s lips. It was a bridge into the more feminine side of male fashion, which debuted on the catwalks before quickly turning up in all high street and online retailers. But what does the future hold for the man bag? As an increasing number of designers are grabbing masculinity by the scruff of the neck, does it spell the end for a once loved accessory?

Now I am not saying the man bag is becoming obsolete. Not at all. But as the days are becoming longer and the sun is shining a little brighter, it seems that the humble backpack is still holding all the attention that it stole in the previous autumn/winter season. Over the past few years, if you decided that a Mulberry satchel (i.e. nearly a month’s salary) was a wise investment – it probably was and still is.

That said, this article will probably not be of much comfort to you. I am here to lay down the facts about the back pack – the most talked about men’s accessory in 2012, which is kind to both your wallet and your posture.

The Backpack

It could be noted that the real resurgence of this accessory can be traced back to the spring/summer 2012 runways. It was clear that the newer and more adventurous brands were toying with this idea, with the backpack showing up on a number of catwalks – including Acne and Walter Van Beierendonck.

However, it wasn’t until New Power Studio showed in London on day two, that editors and bloggers worldwide sat up and realised that maybe the backpack was here to stay. The up and coming brand showcased a rather unusual accessory; a backpack made entirely of Marigolds, which featured a small boy tucked away inside it.

Strange though it may seem, it sparked interest the world over:

Men's Backpacks on the Spring/Summer 2012 Runways

Cue end of September. In anticipation of this catwalk trend and also to run parallel with the increased emphasis on rugged workwear, high street stores began to release their own backpacks, which were turned around quickly to supply the increasing demand.

Primarily, stores such as Topman, Uniqlo and Urban Outfitters, played it safe: offering neutral colours in fabrics closely related to canvas. As popularity grew, brands such as Ally Capellino began to offer more luxurious options, with heavy exploration into leather and suede. As we progress through spring/summer 2012, it will be interesting to see what the industry produces after five to six months of development, rather than providing a quick fix to a trend hungry nation.

The New Year brought new runway shows and even though autumn/winter 2012 wasn’t particularly accessory heavy, it certainly proved the fact that the backpack will be gracing the majority of our wardrobes before the end of the year. Even high fashion brands such as Philip Lim 3.1 and Henrik Vibskov featured the accessory in some of their exits.

Functional Fashion

The backpack is a sturdy male companion. It has been there for us for over a century, as we have explored new lands, fought wars and earned our scout badges. Our two strap friend is reliable and comfortable. Fair enough – not two words that normally go hand in hand with the latest trends, but as we load up on day to necessities, wouldn’t it be nice for our shoulders to share the load, rather than one being battered and bruised?

In general, they are roomier (again, accommodating more items) which limits the need for your lunch/gym kit to be carried around in a Tesco carrier bag (Mulberry tote = no money for secondary bag).

Possibly the most important issue in this article, would be the quality of backpack you would get for your money. They are built to last, and with prices ranging from anywhere between £35 on the high street to £175+ for a specialist or designer brand, they certainly cannot be ignored. These prices also allow you to mix and match. Think black is safe but more colour is needed for the upcoming spring? Buy a red one – and have two splendid bags for the price of a designer ‘man bag’ strap.

Men’s Backpack Lookbook

Men's Backpack Lookbook

Backpack Considerations

It is important to point out, that while a backpack is a perfect choice for some – especially for the upcoming spring/summer season – it isn’t for others. A word of warning: only very few people can carry off a backpack with formal office wear. The majority of the time, it turns out to be the male equivalent of a pencil skirt and trainers (we all know how that looks).

So, if a formal look is what you are going for, then the backpack is not really for you. Dust off your trusty briefcase/messenger bag and use it for another season. If you want to invest in something new, try leather in a sludge grey, or stick to trusty burnished tan as we shake off the shackles of the cold winter months.

For all you others out there – I urge you to see what all the backpack fuss is all about. I believe you will be pleasantly surprised.

Men’s Backpacks
Trend-Led Styles
  • Herschel Camouflage Heritage BackpackHerschel Camouflage Heritage Backpack
  • Asos Aztec BackpackAsos Aztec Backpack
  • Asos Aztec Patch BackpackAsos Aztec Patch Backpack
  • Topman Tmd Yellow Printed RucksackTopman Tmd Yellow Printed Rucksack
  • American Apparel Nylon Cordura® School BagAmerican Apparel Nylon Cordura® School Bag
  • River Island Navajo BackpackRiver Island Navajo Backpack
  • Fred Perry Vintage Twill BackpackFred Perry Vintage Twill Backpack
  • Yuketen Canoe Backpack Orange CanvasYuketen Canoe Backpack Orange Canvas
  • Paul Smith Accessories Ecru Striped Canvas Washed Army Duffle Back PackPaul Smith Accessories Ecru Striped Canvas Washed Army Duffle Back Pack
Classic Styles
  • Shore Leave Beige Canvas Slouch RucksackShore Leave Beige Canvas Slouch Rucksack
  • Topman Lifetime Brown Silverlake BagTopman Lifetime Brown Silverlake Bag
  • Asos Leather BackpackAsos Leather Backpack
  • Herschel Survey BackpackHerschel Survey Backpack
  • Sandqvist Stone Canvas Roald Pocket BackpackSandqvist Stone Canvas Roald Pocket Backpack
  • Calabrese Epomeo BackpackCalabrese Epomeo Backpack
  • Herschel Supply Co. Little America Mountain Bag GreyHerschel Supply Co. Little America Mountain Bag Grey
  • Woolrich Leather And Canvas BackpackWoolrich Leather And Canvas Backpack
  • Mulberry Henry BackpackMulberry Henry Backpack