In the Bag: Why This Season is All About a Branded Tote | Accessories


NOTNaturally, neither you nor I are the type to wield ostentatious handbags that display their brand’s provenance in a showy way. That wouldn’t do at all, would it? We didn’t dream of being so brash. Attach our tribal identity to the stores we spend money in? As if!

Except … wait a minute. I just looked at the bag under my desk in the office. Not my purse, but my tote bag. This morning, he was holding my bottle of water and a dress to drop off at the dry cleaners; on the way home, I’ll need it to pick up pieces for dinner. The name Ginger Pig is inscribed in flamboyant script on its sturdy linen and oatmeal. The Ginger Pig is a chic butcher’s shop. In smaller letters, it proclaims “Rare breed butchers and farmers raised in the North York moors,” which sounds a lot fancier than the vegetable curry I’m going to cook tonight.

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And if it wasn’t the Ginger Pig, it could be a Daunts Books bag. I even have a Guardian somewhere. This is my theory of sufficiency. The tote bag is to the 21st century what the button badge on the lapel was to the 20th. It’s a statement of values ​​for a time when principles come with merchandise. It is citizenship as consumerism. Either you pay for a branded tote bag or you receive it because you bought something else. A bookstore tote tells the world not only that you read books, but also that you have great taste in retail establishments. A museum bag is a keepsake of a cultural expedition – but more specifically, of the time you spent in the gift shop.

The cultural capital of a tote bag can be simple (the vibes of undyed linen from Waitrose trump the garish orange of a Sainsbury’s), but it can also be a mind-boggling niche. The Daunts Books bag is a classic, but make sure you get the right colourway: just like with the Hunter boots, olive green is a connoisseur’s choice, so don’t be fooled by gray.

A trendy new title from Sally Rooney or Hilary Mantel is hitting stores with its own tote, a limited edition trophy for early adopters. As for my favorite of the flex niche tote bag: kudos to the man I saw on the 73 bus with the one bearing the caption ‘National Portrait Gallery Member’, with the final word in red for s’ ensure that no one confuses their level of commitment to art with that of the plebs without a map.

Tote bags have become ubiquitous as handbags have become smaller and working days longer. Now that your calendar, address book, travel tickets, loyalty cards and journal are stored on your phone, the bag that keeps your valuables close at hand can be smaller and lighter, this which is awesome, except there’s nowhere to put your gym leggings or your lunch box or the birthday cards you buy at lunchtime. This is where the tote bag comes in. They have become an essential part of the daily kit, now that a plastic shopping bag signals recklessness and irresponsibility.

Yet a 2018 to study by Denmark’s Ministry of Environment and Food challenged our assumption that tote bags are an environmentally friendly choice, concluding that a cotton tote, consuming a lot of water in production, should be used 20,000 times to compensate for its own impact. It’s been everyday for 54 years – a big question, considering most of us have a drawer full of stuff.

But I suspect their downgraded eco credentials won’t be enough to kill the tote bag. Because these bags are a matter of identity, not just transportation. Wait. Has the It bag just been varnished?


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