A key trend that emerged at the recently concluded Pitti Uomo and men's fashion weeks in Milan and Paris was men across age groups letting their bags do all the preening. While backpacks and fanny packs have always been considered essentials, men, including actors like Ranveer Singh (his recent airport look included a sporty Gucci Adidas sling) and Ranbir Kapoor (famous for his crossbody collection), are experimenting with accessories with a slight twist.
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From rocking water bottle pouches crafted with leather to woven oversized totes, bag choices are no longer defined by their owner’s profession or gender. It’s about expressing individuality and inculcating iconography. Cross-body leather satchels, harness bags and brief boxes styled over shirts, trench coats and suits are becoming a common sight, more so internationally.
More designers are realising it, offering men's bags in quirky styles complete with whimsical touches—from the anagram debossed leather pouch from Loewe, FF jacquard technical canvas crossbody from Fendi to Givenchy's 4 G zip camo print nylon cross-body bag. The crossbody bags, especially, have had a major impact on street style with fashion designers, influencers and bloggers carrying them. The recently unveiled Louboutin's LoubiLab leather and rubber crossbody bag and Lemaire's croissant shaped leather crossbody bag are two big examples of this trend.
Tote on the turf
Stylist Akshay Tyagi, who recently unveiled tann-ed, a line of vibrant totes, bags and accessories, observes that totes and crossbody pouches speak a universal language. "Tote is the new briefcase. It's rectangular and has a masculine dimension. I'd say that tote is the new work bag and the fanny pack is a hybrid of athleisure and functionality. It's an era of accessorisation and with men opting for genderless jewellery, they need a spacious tote to dump all these essentials in," says Tyagi.
Designers also believe the increase in interest in bags has a lot to do with men accepting their individuality as well. "They want to express themselves in the light of how they feel and nothing is more expressive than fashion accessories. Those are fun and experimental and stand out in the most interesting way," says designer Jatin Malik. "They want to explore and experiment with different mini tote bags, holdall bags, crossbody slings, or even clutch bags. Over recent seasons, the bag game has become huge thanks to an increase in interest among men," he adds.
Cruise bag craze
The cloth bag, once synonymous with Cruise or beach, has been seen on Gen Z actors and celebrities across the board in street style imagery. Malik suggests two ways to style it.
"For a casual look, opt for basic ivory T-shirt and white denims and add a beanie along with a cloth tote bag like Fendi's to complete the look. For a formal outing, a pair of tailored shirt and trousers, paired with a fitted blazer and slip-on loafers would complement a cloth bag," Malik adds.
Besides usability, men have grown keen to style the product in many ways for that extra edge. "Today men have the same amount of essentials to carry like women do, if not more. So why not do it in style?" says Sayukta Chawla, founder and CEO of Label Sugar.
A casual day out to see friends can easily become an excuse to rock an abstract cloth tote or a fanny pack and pair it with denim, sneakers, and a basic white tee. "Moreover, clutches and purses pair well with trousers and a satin shirt for a fun night out," adds Chawla.
Market research shows Gen Zers like to shop out of their assigned gender category. “Be it the idea of fluid identities or the increasing need for fashion-forward utility products, the result is right in front of our eyes, men buying and carrying stylish bags,” says Ashutosh Sirohiya, senior designer, Snitch. “This is why brands have started designing more unisex items so that no one feels left out.”