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The rise of the man bag

By FashionUnited

4 Jul 2017


Handbags have been the ultimate in luxury leather goods since Coco Chanel created the highly coveted 2.55 bag back in the 1950s. They were the ultimate accessory for women, and completely functional. They hold money, keys, toiletries, gum, etc.

While women have long got to enjoy the luxury and glamour of handbags, men were restricted to briefcases and messenger bags. There came a turning point in the last several years when luxury fashion companies decided to expand on their leather good offerings, and thus the man bag had its true birth.

In 2014, man bags appeared on the runways of fashion brands including Fendi, Gucci, Jil Sander and Burberry. It was the catalyst to a trend that became a staple. The designer who made the man bag most popular would arguably be Gucci's Alessandro Michele.

Men's handbags are the new menswear must-have accessory

Michele, who is credited with reviving Gucci to peak luxury status, has made the brand a go-to choice for celebrities, fashion influencers, and street style stars of all ages. His designs for Gucci, such as the bee, tiger and snake print tote bags, are always toted around at New York Fashion Week, and have even been featured in top men's magazines like GQ.

Historically, men's bags have been limited to utilitarian things like camera bags and duffel bags. In the past several years, the idea of a man's bag as a true fashion piece has flourished.

Louis Vuitton, which has long offered men's briefcases, began to offer more fashion statement pieces in their men's line under the creative direction of men's artistic director Kim Jones. The growth in their men's sector led to collaborations with artists like Jake and Dinos Chapman, and more recently Supreme. The Supreme collaboration practically broke retail on the day of its launch last week, with some people lining up from midnight to get their hands on the items.

Louis Vuitton also broke the internet during Paris Men's Fashion Week with their new Monogram Outdoor bag for spring/summer 2018. The photo on their Instagram page has garnered over 83,000 likes, and has made its way to the must-have list of luxury fashion lovers.

Recently, smaller man bags, dubbed "the man purse" by GQ, have become increasingly trendy thanks to hip-hop stars like A$AP Rocky and designers like Virgil Abloh.

Of course, now begs the question, how did we get here?

Men needed something more convenient to transport rather than a briefcase. In the age of technology, it didn't make sense to have a clunky briefcase just to hold your iPad or Macbook Air. Lighter weight more functional bags like totes and small messengers became a matter of practicality.

As gender norms become less and less restrictive in society, the idea of carrying a tote or small crossbody was no longer seen as just a feminine thing. If a woman could carry a handbag, a man could to.

Between that and the era of "peacocking" menswear has entered, men's fashion lovers are now fearless when it comes to drawing attention to themselves. As the men's wear market is also seeing continuous growth, brands are capitalizing on every category possible too.

What may have seemed like just a trend at first is now a permanent staple among menswear, and a coveted accessory for all men.

During the month of June FashionUnited will focus on the menswear catwalk season. For all reads, click here.

Photo lookbook via Gucci.com, photo still handbag via Bloomingdales.com
Homepage photo + catwalk photos: “LOUIS VUITTON Men Collection Spring-Summer 2018/2019 © Louis Vuitton – All rights reserved