The Fashionization of the Tote Bag

Today I spent more money than I’d like to admit on… a tote bag. Yes, a tote bag; the bag I used to think of as beige cloth bought at book stores for dirt cheap, or given out as ‘branded swag’ at events, often accompanied by plastic sunglasses.

Well, not any more.

Now, you can’t walk around Soho without seeing a Cool Person™ with a tote on their shoulder.

Now, Gucci has more than twenty different tote bags to buy on their website.

Now, Outdoor Voices, an A.P.C-esque fitness brand, has proclaimed that their tote is the ‘new Birkin’.

Now, Opening Ceremony sells totes emblazoned with their name for upwards of fifty dollars, and stocks totes from Bao Bao Issey Miyake and Mansur Gavriel that reach a thousand dollars.

Now, Balenciaga makes a leather copy of Ikea’s Frakta tote, a multicolored Bazaar shopper tote modeled after Thai market bags, and a leather copy of their own paper shopping bags.

It’s official: the tote bag has been fashion-ified.

Is the transformation of the tote bag into a highly priced designer item fashion elitism, or simply taking inspiration from the mundane?




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