Unless you’ve been living in complete sartorial seclusion for the past few years, it should come as no surprise that bags are big news in menswear.
Design teams have moved on from the ‘man bag’ messenger creations of the early 2000s, offering a range of decidedly more sophisticated options that not only serve the practical purpose of carting your work/life essentials from A to B, but can also succinctly round off a look.
Is this article, we take a look the key bag styles for 2013/14 and present a hand-picked edit of our favourite carry-all creations…
The Briefcase
The briefcase has undergone a complete reinvention in recent years. It’s still traditionally a business bag, but the modern workplace has changed a great deal, requiring gents to carry more than a few sheets of paper, a Parker pen and a questionable Braeburn apple to and from the office.
Tech devices are a major part of our lives and have influenced both work and play. Modern briefcase styles reflect this change and have been designed with the tech-savvy gent in mind, featuring robust but lightweight structures and padded compartments to store laptops, tablets and multiple smartphones.
Not only do the sleek lines of a briefcase give a tailored look a sharp finishing touch, but this practical design ensures you can take your essential tools of the trade anywhere so you never miss a deadline.
Additionally, there’s always a little extra room for your personal essentials, ensuring the lines of your jacket and trousers are kept neat and trim as intended.
Key briefcase brands to consider include Reiss, Ted Baker, Mismo, Sandqvist, Mulberry and Burberry.
Briefcase Lookbook
Men's Briefcases Outfit Inspiration Lookbook
The Folio
The folio, with its absence of handles and clean-cut silhouette, has been a rising star of the menswear bag scene for some time. Likened to the gent’s equivalent of the clutch, and affectionately dubbed ‘mutches’, folios have divided male sartorial opinion ever since their emergence several seasons ago.
Available in a host of materials including leather and canvas, these streamlined bags coerce you to simplify your life, as they can just about fit a slim laptop or tablet, a few pieces of essential paperwork and your pens. Fastenings are also varied, ranging from zip-top designs to envelope buckle-fastening systems.
Folios are not necessarily about function, but for making a clean, streamlined statement they always come out on top.
A particular favourite of ours is the Goswell folio from London-based Swedish leather brand Oppermann, which reflects the label’s passion for luxurious materials and considered masculinity.
Folio Lookbook
Men's Folio/Clutch/Pouch Outfit Inspiration Lookbook
The Backpack
Previously considered a functional item well out of range of the fashion radar, backpacks are now firmly rooted on the menswear map.
As much of a style statement as they are practical load-bearer, the backpack’s reinvention by fashion forward designers is evident from high-end houses to the high street.
Spurred on by the technical and athletic trends in menswear, brands such as Sandqvist and Mismo with their Scandinavian-inspired canvas rucksacks have brought a new dimension to an everyday design, which are ideal for the more casual dresser.
Luxury brands such as Givenchy and Marc Jacobs have also tapped into the trend, combining their statement graphic and geometric prints with the backpack’s street-ready appeal, epitomising the definition of ‘fashion meets function’.
Backpack Lookbook
Men's Backpacks Outfit Inspiration Lookbook
The Holdall
With our lives increasingly gaining pace, many business and pleasure trips require us to travel for short periods, with minimal luggage. The 24/48-hour holdall has become an essential item for many gents with busy lifestyles.
Requiring a robust construction to cope with the rigours of travel, while spacious enough to stow all your necessities for an overnight stay, a good holdall should have a strong pair of top handles and a detachable shoulder strap to help lighten the load when waiting in the inevitable departure lounge queues.
Usually rectangular or barrel-shaped, the holdall is also ideal for trips to the gym, with enough room to hold your sporting attire and equipment.
Some of our favourite holdall designs can be found at HE By Mango, Herschel, Bill Amberg, Oppermann and Reiss.
Holdall Lookbook
Men's Holdalls Outfit Inspiration Lookbook
The Tote
Exceptionally easy to carry with the same practical load-shifting potential as a backpack, the tote benefits from its open top design, enabling the wearer to quickly add or remove items while on the go.
A great city or beach bag, totes are a relatively recent import from womenswear, with designers bringing a masculine flavour to the style.
Available in a wide array of designs, totes range from simple cotton affairs to more structured, durable leather and canvas combinations.
Constructed with two large top handles to allow the tote to be carried on the shoulder or held in the hand, they are typified by their large storage capacity.
Some key brands that have really brought the tote into its own within the menswear arena include Alexander McQueen, Burberry, Want les Essentials De La Vie, Zara and Filson.
Tote Lookbook
Men's Totes Outfit Inspiration Lookbook
Final Word
Despite the fact that menswear design has often been governed by functionality, men are becoming more experimental than ever with their style, and designers are responding by producing contemporary takes on traditional designs to suit a more cultivated audience.
Owing to their mobile nature, bags are, like shoes, subject to more wear and tear than the average piece of clothing, so investment in quality and durability should be at the forefront of your mind when selecting the perfect style.
Not only do bags prevent your pockets from becoming a lumpy disorder and keep your daily essentials in check, they can also form a pivotal feature of your look, which is something our female counterparts have known for years.
So whether you’re a briefcase, folio or backpack man, there’s never been a better time to invest in a bag to suit your needs – remember that great bags aren’t just for girls.