I don’t know about you guys, but I am the kind of man who cannot leave the house without bringing along a few portable necessities. With this in mind, I nearly always carry some kind of bag with me, in order to keep all of my daily essentials in one safe place. Although a man carrying a bag has been the subject of stigma in the past – with bags often being viewed as a typically feminine accessory – I think the modern man is much more open to carrying some form of daily baggage.
With items such as keys, wallet, smart phone, mp3 player, tablet, book, deodorant, hair wax, gym kit, magazines etc. now included in the everyday man’s daily luggage, the notion of carrying a stylish bag is becoming more and more prevalent amongst men. And this autumn/winter, smarter, more structured cases and handleless envelope-style bags are taking over from the popular 2012 summer choice of the tote.
On the AW12 catwalks, some of the most popular styles were briefcase-like bags – supported by high fashion powerhouses such as Lanvin and Louis Vuitton. Lanvin’s collection included slimline briefcases in boxy, almost art Deco type designs, which came in shades of grey, black and tan.
The collection also included a crocodile skin textured case in a sophisticated pale blue, and although Lanvin paired the majority of these cases with tailored suiting, their use of more casual quilted jackets and hi-top trainers within the looks showed that such briefcases are versatile enough to work successfully when matched with more casual garments.
Over at Louis Vuitton, the AW12 collection featured a boxy briefcase-style bag that almost looked like a small toolbox – helping reassert the masculinity of a small and portable accessory which can often be deemed quite feminine. They also featured a similar case in a slightly more edgy, barrel-shape for a modern take on a classic accessory:
Both Esquire and Details magazines recently featured articles on soft-sided briefcases, claiming they were a supple yet sturdy choice of bag. These soft-sided briefcases are much less formal than the hard-sided ‘banker’ style alternatives we are accustomed to, but they are just as sturdy and additionally waterproof for those inevitable autumn/winter downpours.
The soft-sided cases featured in the Esquire article came from a range of designers, such as Prada, Mulberry and Hackett, but they also featured slightly more affordable options from Aspinals of London and Jack Spade. Due to the lower level of formality that these soft-sided cases represent, it means that they are much more versatile and work equally well with a suit as they do with a more casual choice of jeans or chinos.
It isn’t just the high fashion houses that have noticed the potential of the briefcase, everyone from Ben Sherman and Massimo Dutti to Zara and Reiss have included their own modern take on the style within recent campaigns and lookbooks:
The second type of bag proving to be popular this AW12 is the handleless bag – carried under the arm or in the nook of the elbow. A similar comparison from the female accessory market would be a clutch bag, but the male versions popularised by high fashion designers such as Valentino and Burberry Prorsum retain an element of masculinity in their design and look much more like document holders than feminine envelope-style clutches.
In an era where e-readers and tablets are becoming more and more popular, it is now relatively common to see men carrying A4 sized tablet holders and bags in styles that resemble traditional clutch bags – again, helping reduce the stigma that comes with carrying such a style. It is this that could help push this undeniably useful accessory to the forefront of men’s fashion over the coming year.
Burberry Prorsum in particular showed a preference for this type of bag within their collection, featuring timeless handleless bags in black leather as well as a couple of statement styles, coming in the form of a silver studded version and a brown/burgundy patchwork suede-style with both envelope popper and zip fastenings.
In addition, Valentino’s collection featured a document holder-style bag with zip fastening in a classic brown leather and more daring camouflage print, whilst Gucci featured a striped, zip-fastened bag that had a more ethnic feel.
Looking forward to next year, Louis Vuitton featured hand-held square bags within their SS13 preview, which almost looked like wash bags – illustrating that the handleless clutch is likely to remain a popular choice for the foreseeable future. Jil Sander’s SS13 collection reinforced this by featuring leather document holders with neon pink and yellow trims for a pop of colour (also highlighting an upcoming trend of neon for SS13):
Many may still assume that this is a style of bag that will never transcend to the high street – however, as the lookbook below proves, everyone from Reiss and Zara, to Ted Baker and The Kooples, to Emporio Armani and Kenneth Cole have been featuring these clutch bags/technology holders in current campaigns:
Clearly, the modern man is slowly but surely moving away from the more casual spring/summer offerings of canvas backpacks and tote bags into slightly smarter, weather-resistant styles for the autumn/winter months. But where do you stand on this?
Could you see yourself rocking a handleless bag and retaining a masculine edge, or do you think that pockets were made to be filled (no matter how unsightly bulges are) and that carrying a bag is reserved for the ladies?
Perhaps you like the thought of carrying a briefcase-style bag but feel that it doesn’t fit in with your image? Maybe you think a briefcase is fine for the office but not for any other occasion – even in the more contemporary soft-sided design?
As always, we welcome your thoughts and musings below…