Now that the backpack’s seen off the briefcase, it’s time to upgrade your bag arsenal. And the tote should be next on your wishlist. It was one of the dominating trends on AW15 runways, from Bally’s retro interpretation to vintage black leather at Balenciaga and a plethora of colours, fabrics and cuts at Burberry Prorsum.
As ever, designer style has trickled down and you can now grab a luxe tote on the high street too. Although the silhouette doesn’t stray from tradition, materials do. Which means heavy canvas and leather.
The perfect bag has straps short enough to hold by your side without it brushing the floor, but should still be slingable across your shoulder when you’re manhandling a coffee and croissant.
We’re a far cry from the heavily branded products of the early noughties, but there is a certain appeal to a bag with an understated logo. Loewe’s textured leather tote gives off the essence of a hand-made vintage piece rather than an off-the-rack item. “I’m really into the Loewe logo, but as a rule would shy away from big branding. This one is subtle enough,” says Chris Hobbs, menswear fashion editor at MATCHESFASHION.COM.
The modern tote’s key is practicality, and as you’d expect from a house with Loewe’s leather pedigree, this will battle weather and the daily commute admirably. Team it with slim-fit trousers, a crisp shirt, a heritage knit cardigan and a pair of leather brogues for an update to your office wear.
Loewe Textured-Leather Tote, available at Matches Fashion, priced £850.
You’re not your dad, so update how you get your stuff to work. Reiss’ canvas tote is your basic briefcase re-packaged as a fashion accessory, with exterior and interior pockets so that you can easily organise and store your laptop, iPad, notebook and keys.
“It has spacious compartments, while the leather trim and handles appeal to the more fashion-forward dresser,” says Nick Keyte, head of menswear buying at John Lewis. “The navy colour palette adds an essential day-to-evening versatility.”
Pair with your suit or dress down with a grey sweater and slim-fit flannel trousers.
Reiss Trapper Canvas Tote Bag, available at John Lewis, priced £130.
The current trend for cloth tote bags originates in Japan and works perfectly for the man who’s outgrown the rucksack but doesn’t carry enough on him to warrant a holdall. Don’t let the fabric put you off. Cheap Monday’s tote accessorises with your streetwear, without bruising your wallet.
“Team a monochromatic style with a black overcoat, black jeans, white Oxford shirt and some black and white runners,” says Luke McCarthy, style editor at The Idle Man. “It’s a great mixture of both presentable and street-ready pieces.”
Cheap Monday Tote Bag with Opposites Print, available at The Idle Man, priced £5.
Catherine Dang’s totes offer laid-back luxury. They’re made of sustainable materials like cork and IKAT fabrics, so you can accessorise with a clean conscience. And because of the technique and the nature of the materials used, each item is slightly different than the next. So you know no one else is biting your style.
The BEECH collection of tote bags comes in grey and white or blue and white stripes. “The grey stripe is probably my favourite,” says menswear stylist and blogger Karlmond Tang, aka Mr.Boy.
“It goes well with denim, goes well with smart trousers or a clean crisp shirt, goes well with a long black coat and a simple black jumper.”
Beech Grey Bag, available at catherinedang.com, priced €215.
Marni’s soft leather totes offer smart design without complicating things. Which makes them super-versatile. The navy tone works with everything else in your wardrobe while the robust handles and detailing should outflank any suggestions that you’ve picked up your girlfriend’s bag by mistake.
It’s also functional, with space for your office essentials and an extra sweater so you can transition straight out in the evening. “Marni’s version is roomy enough for the thousands of things I manage to cram into my bag on a daily basis,” says Hobbs. “I’d wear it over my shoulder – or even in my hand – with my Raey flares, a shrunken knit and Converse trainers.”
Marni Soft Leather Tote, available at Matches Fashion, priced £790.