Boy bags were big news in the AW14 Menswear collections, from the obligatory and ubiquitous Satchel, to the opinion dividing Backpack and the quite frankly curious Mutch (yes, that’s a man clutch). Bags are back, and boy do boys do bags well. Whereas women’s handbags are influenced heavily by aesthetic allure and the ‘it bag’ epidemic, the man bag more faithfully follows the principal of function over fashion. In anticipation of the SS15 Menswear collections championing the man bag movement moreover, we look at some of the portable pieces us girls might just have to borrow from the boys.
First up is the ultimate macho man bag – the briefcase. With its connotations of business and monetary acumen, the briefcase is to men what the ‘it bag’ is to women – a showy statement of success. AW14 harked back to Great British heritage for its inspiration, with brands like Hackett presenting a plethora of Dickensian-esque vintage briefcases in start contrast to the season’s often futuristic, sports luxe inspired menswear trends. Christopher Raeburn mastered next level Nike techno touches like mesh, toggles and zips for a funky, unisex look, whilst Gieves and Hawkes and Kent and Curwen kept it old-school archetypal with elegant and timeless structured pieces in neutral palettes – gorgeous miniature boxy styles in exotic skins by Gieves and Hawkes were number one on our wish list. The briefcase is always best as a classic, especially when transitioning the piece to transcend gender, so ladies, look for great quality leather and a timeless design in either black or a shade from the Sherlock Holmes palette. Rustic oak browns, tans or mahogany will always work, or for a touch of quirk choose this season’s shade du jour, fir green. Mulberry and Burberry are leaders in the field, with Reiss on the high street offering some really covetable and affordable unisex gems.
Next up is a ubiquitous and universal staple, the holdall. Luggage luxe has always been led by carryall connoisseurs Louis Vuitton, whose unisex designs have meant that women have always had a smart, functional option for overnight bags and hand luggage which is still beautiful and fashion forward. Today, women need 24/48 hour bags on the regular – in the city, for weekends away, even for trips to the gym. So when mixing business and pleasure, why not choose a holdall which does just that?
Black has always been the dominant hue for mens travel accessories, but Burberry Prorsum got it in the bag with their incredible AW14 St Ives carpet carryalls, made from kilim rugs in a sophisticated rustic palette of terracottas and burnt ombres, with triangular totes also dazzling in bright whites splashed with primary colours and graphic prints. Whether male or female, today sometimes travelling light just isn’t an option, and we love that the men’s collections are cottoning on that bigger is usually better – with fantastically wearable yet overtly oversized unisex options debuted by Hermes, Dolce & Gabbana, Paul Smith, Alexander Wang and Bottega Veneta on last season’s runways.
Next up, because we can’t avoid it any longer, is the backpack. Ok, we admit it boys, back packs are brilliantly functional, and the thought of having both hands free is dreamy – dreamy being the operative word because the reality is that back packs are incontestably ugly (remember that episode of Ugly Betty where Betty turns round and Amanda has snipped off her rucksack with scissors?). Or at least, they were.
Last season saw a surge of high-end designer brands like Marc Jacobs and Givenchy embellishing the style with technologically savvy, athletic and sports luxe inspired elements, unashamedly brandishing their back packs with loud graphic prints. From animalism to neon Nike sport chic, our advice is to embrace an urban appeal when choosing your backpack. The best are those which suggest they’ve been nonchalantly added on as an afterthought, or borrowed haphazard from a boyfriend – big, bold and brash – for the ultimate laid back London street style statement. And, for the faint hearted, there are some beautifully classic black leather options most recently seen at Givenchy, and at least because you wear it on your back you can’t see it yourself, right?
Finally, because they might just be the future, its time to embrace the ‘mutch’. As amusing as the concept may be (and also just a little bit too much for the average fashion-fearful male who was also faced last season with Burberry Prorsum’s ‘mankets’) these tablet-laptop-essential carry pouches are actually gorgeous, practical and covetable – although potentially more so for women than men.
The AW14 menswear runways were dominated by chic, no-fuss mutches from leader of the pack Louis Vuitton, and effortlessly elegant versions by Balenciaga in soft creased leather. Our pick of the oversized carry clutches available in current Womenswear collections include Saint Laurent, Valentino and Versace, and All Saints offer some really credible unisex high street options if you want take our advice and do it like a dude. Oh, and you can term it a Folio if the ‘mutch’ is a bit too, well, much.
Essentially, when it comes to bags the boys really do do it best – bigger, better, and increasingly just as beautiful. Whether male or female, we all come with baggage and we could all do with investing in classics which will stand the tests of time and travel. We can’t wait to see the newest SS15 Menswear Accessory additions and encourage our other halves to bag them* (*for us).