We might have disparagingly branded them ‘murses’ only a few years ago, but bags for men are big business these days. No longer feared as flamboyant appendages, we’re buying them up in our droves – with one in every five luxury handbags sold now a ‘man bag’. Surprised? You shouldn’t be. Where else were you planning to throw your phone, wallet, cardholder, laptop, business cards, keys and gloves?
A bag is one of those rare dual-purpose accessories, not only fulfilling its primary function (holding your crap), but adding another element to your overall look at the same time.
Not sure which is right for you? We’ve done the dog work and rounded up this season’s key styles. Bag it up. As it were.
The Fabric Holdall
No one’s going to dispute the fact that a brown or black leather holdall is a classic style which every man should own, but textile options are worth considering too. And while wool or canvas might not be the first materials that spring to mind for an autumn/winter bag, as long as you opt for coated versions, or give them regular spritzes of protector spray, they’ll shield your essentials from the elements.
Wool, although usually reserved for knits and outerwear, makes richly textured bags that can instantly add depth to your outfit. Try a tweed or herringbone option to add some heritage-inspired character to your cold-weather tailoring, or grab a plain black or charcoal grey design if your style leans more sports luxe.
Coated canvas, meanwhile, makes for bags that are not only lightweight and durable, but perfect for the casual looks you’ll be falling back on this season – from grunge-inspired to workshop-ready.
Scandi labels Fjallraven and Rains produce some excellent canvas styles that are built to deal with inclement weather, while here on home soil Ted Baker and Marks & Spencer offer a variety of high quality wool options.
- River Island Grey Jersey Holdall Bag
- New Look Grey Twill Holdall
- Forbes & Lewis Somerset Grey Canvas Holdall Bag
- Ted Baker Madnas Holdall
- Mulberry Medium Clipper Holdall Bag
- J. Crew Wallace & Barnes Duffel Bag
- J.crew Abingdon Waxed Cotton-canvas Holdall
- Ted Baker Budapes Small Holdall
- Barbour Wax Holdall
- M&s Collection New Pure New Wool Checked Holdall
- Mulberry Camo Canvas Clipper Bag
- Rains Travel Bag
The Leather Backpack
Once the preserve of schoolchildren and gap year hikers, the backpack has swiftly established itself as the contemporary bag style to get your hands on, with everyone from city bankers to chart-toppers like Kanye and Chris Brown seen sporting shoulder straps.
In fact, backpack sales have grown every year since 2008 according to market intelligence firm Euromonitor. And with demand comes ever more stylish supply; designers from Alexander Wang to Z Zegna are this season continuing to take the silhouette upscale.
By swapping traditional synthetics like nylon for premium leather, and budget buckles for gleaming, tough-as-nails hardware, brands like Reiss, Miansai, Herschel and Porter-Yoshida & Co are providing us with backpacks that work as well for the boardroom as they do for a weekend abroad.
Far smarter than their predecessors, leather backpacks will round out everything from minimal tailored ensembles to your steeziest streetwear looks. Pick one up in classic black, midnight blue or dark chocolate brown, and bid farewell to carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Reiss Giani Leather Backpack Black
- Topman Brown Leather Look Backpack
- Sandqvist Helmer Leather Backpack
- River Island Black Bucket Rucksack
- Maison Margiela 11 Leather Backpack
- Herschel Supply Co. Bad Hills Lawson Backpack
- John Lewis & Co. Leather Backpack
- Michael Kors Dylan Milled Italian Leather Backpack
- Stighlorgan Cillian Grey Leather Backpack
- Paul Smith Shoes & Accessories City Webbing Textured-leather Backpack
- Want Les Essentiels De La Vie Kastrup Leather Backpack
- Coach Pebble-grain Leather Backpack
The Barrel Bag
Coach potatoes rejoice! This season you needn’t keep pretending you’re going to renew that gym membership just to carry a barrel bag. Thanks to trends like ‘athleisure’ or ‘sports luxe’ (or whatever you want to call the fact that you’re as likely to see a pair of trainers and joggers on a leading stylist as on a cider-swilling hoodie), gym bags are no longer mere pieces of kit to cart pungent gear in.
To find the best all-round fit, look for nylon or cotton styles in one or a maximum of two colours (contrast handles or detailing works well) and sidestep any exterior Velcro details or flashy branding if you want to be able to move seamlessly from benching to a few hard-earned brews. Protein beer only, of course.
- Asos Barrel Bag In Grey Faux Leather
- Mi-pac Classic Barrel Bag
- Fred Perry Navy And Green Tartan Millerrain Barrel Bag
- J. Crew Harwick Duffel Bag
- Topman Black Frat Branded Gym Bag
- Asos Gym Barrel Bag In Black Faux Leather
- Mantaray Navy Canvas Barrel Holdall Bag
- Canterbury Navy Logo Barrel Bag
- Burton Black & Tan Barrel Bag
- A.p.c. Campus Bag
- Herschel Supply Co. Bad Hills Sutton Bag
- Fred Perry Classic Barrel Bag
The Modern Work Bag
Don Draper might have looked sharp with an old-school briefcase, but he didn’t have the contents of a small electrical store to lug around. Between an iPad, iPhone and an annoyingly coiled mass of miscellaneous chargers to contend with, you’re going to need a different game plan.
First up, check your pockets. Tech pockets, that is. Whether or not your company’s Fortune 500, no IT guy is going to appreciate you rocking up to his desk with a battered MacBook and your tail between your legs. Brands like Want Les Essentiels de la Vie, Aspinal Of London, Troubadour and Mismo offer supremely stylish options fitted with padded interior and exterior pockets that boast sturdy fastenings and zip closures.
For added versatility, hunt down a soft-sided briefcase with a strap – you’ll be able to switch to messenger mode for a speedier, handsfree commute.
- Reiss Robin Contrast Briefcase Black
- He By Mango External Pocket Tote Briefcase
- Calvin Klein Briefcase
- Ted Baker Picton Leather Document Bag
- John Lewis Strasbourg Leather Laptop Briefcase
- Berluti Emio Leather Briefcase
- Mulberry Core Elkington Briefcase
- Tods Textured-leather Briefcase
- River Island Black Perforated Workbag
- Burberry Newburg Briefcase
- Brics Life Large 2-handle Briefcase
- M&s Collection Formal Briefcase
Sleek, sophisticated and pretty much impractical, it’s for good reason the folio’s bringing up the rear in this list. Fine for holding a few contracts, a phone and a cardholder (at the very most), this accessory is by no means an essential.
But there’s no denying it looks pretty damn good. Think of a folio as less a utility piece, more a stylish accessory – like a pocket square, fine watch or a masterfully crafted pair of shoes – to set you apart in a sea of suits.
Since this is basically the men’s equivalent of a clutch bag, we’d advise against busy prints or bold colours and suggest you steer classic instead; look for leather (grain, crocodile and nappa are all valid options) designs in versatile colours like black, navy and shades of brown.
- Reiss Linton Leather Document Holder Black
- Tom Ford Leather Document Bag
- Celine Vintage Logo Detail Document Holder
- Ted Baker Weezal Striped Leather Document Bag
- River Island Black Zipped Document Holder
- Thom Browne Large Document Holder
- Lotuff Lock And Key Bridle Leather Document Case
- Tom Ford Leather Document Holder
- Comme Des Garcons Classic Leather Document Holder
- M&s Collection Large Leather Document Holder
- Saint Laurent Textured-leather Pouch
- Maison Margiela Two-tone Leather Pouch
Time was, you were considered a grade-A tool if you were caught carrying a bag. Now, however – since we’ve managed to put our weird bag-gender binaries aside – you’re missing a trick if you haven’t several in rotation.
When purchasing, keep both form and function at the forefront of your mind. The perfect bag will complement the majority of your existing wardrobe and hold a day’s worth of essentials securely.
Are bags now an integral part of your wardrobe? Which styles work best for you?
Share your thoughts below.