If you grew up watching ’90s American sitcoms, chances are you have seen a man’s bag more as a punchline and less as an accessory. After all, both Jerry Seinfeld in Seinfeld and Joey Tribbiani in F.R.I.E.N.D.S were mocked for carrying a “man purse”.
Twenty years later, the tides are finally turning. The accessory is a huge hit with the fellows, and bags, in particular, are having a moment like never before. The man bag is not a new phenomenon, but the difference is that men earlier considered bags as luggage, and not as an accessory. Times have changed, and men nowadays have an evolved outlook toward dressing up and grooming. Today’s man is embracing fashion, and new trends. This is one of the pivotal reasons why bags for men have gone from being something to be scoffed at and almost taboo to something sought after, with the biggest industry players keen to jump on board and join the ‘bagwagon’.
Dilip Kapur, founder & president, Hidesign, credits global lifestyle trends, modern work culture, and frequent travelling for the growth and popularity of bags among Indian men. “Laptops and tablets are default companions, and bags are required daily at work, meetings, and on travels. In recent years, emphasis on accessories is slowly getting men to ditch the cheap synthetic bags that come free with laptops and instead, pick a handcrafted leather bag. While functionality still remains a key choice, Indian men are looking for brands that are sustainable, and convey a sense of prestige and success.” Brands and designers are going all out and presenting their boldest creations. Rahul Vijay, senior fashion editor, Tata CLiQ Luxury, observes, “Thanks to the return of tailoring and workwear this season, designers and brands made sure the bags are functional, sleek, and minimally designed.”
A bag is arguably the most used male accessory. Here’s an update on all the coolest ones you need to get your hands on this season.
A briefcase for work might seem just as groundbreaking as florals for spring, but today’s briefcases are nothing like the rigid square boxy ones our fathers used to carry. In its current iteration, the briefcase is a redesigned, updated version of the classic piece, decked out with a detachable shoulder strap and compartments aplenty, including a dedicated padded one for your laptop. For a refined look, Rahul suggests pairing the briefcase “with a classic 80s suit a là Richard Gere in American Gigolo”. Bombata’s Siena Cocco laptop briefcase would pair perfectly with it. For a not-so-formal look, pair Hidesign’s Kenji 02 messenger bag style briefcase with a polo shirt, cuffed chinos, and sneakers. Meanwhile, Tumi’s Alpha Bravo modernised laptop bag is ideal for those who want an entrepreneurial yet stylish look. The bag goes well with a tailored shirt, fitted trousers, and a blazer.
Ever since it made its appearance on countless runways, the humble fanny pack has emerged as the most unexpected must-have men’s bag. Once stereotyped as a tourist troupe, the fanny pack — also known as a bum bag, waist pouch, or belt bag — has now emerged as a wardrobe staple. The size is just about right for when you have a few things to carry and don’t want to bulk up your pockets. The best part is you no longer have to wear it only around your waist. You can wear it across your chest like a crossbody bag, or throw it over a shoulder like a backpack. Catering to a larger audience, fanny packs now come in many interesting silhouettes, colour choices, and materials. Coach’s green and blue belt bag looks great with a lightweight hoodie and casual pants, while Superdry Revive bum bag with logo applique paired with a solid colour tee, cotton shorts, and sneakers works for a friendly gathering and an informal meeting.
There was a time when you and your backpack were inseparable. Then, you outgrew it. However, like everything else from our childhood, the backpack is back too. The modern interpretation comes in various versions, shapes, and sizes, with functional options offering plenty of utilitarian pockets, sizable main compartments, ergonomic design and sophisticated aesthetics. Given that every major fashion brand has put forth its own take on this multitasker, there is guaranteed to be one for your style. According to fashion stylist Roxanne D’Souza, “The backpack is one you actually wear rather than carry, so it literally becomes part of your outfit. You can use the backpack as a round-the- clock accessory, especially on vacation and holidays.” For a sporty airport look, pair an Adidas top-loader backpack with comfortable joggers and a jumper. Else, opt for a Hidesign’s Barcelona 03 for a more street style vibe vacation look with linen shorts, a printed shirt, and sunglasses. Superdry’s Mountain Montana vibrant colour backpack is ideal for a road trip and looks great with a white tee, distressed jeans, and sneakers.
Between the messenger, satchel, crossbody, micro pouch, and laptop bag — what is a man to carry when he needs to impress a love interest? The tote is supersized, the fanny pack screams street, and the briefcase is too formal. None of them work in a romantic setting. A classy date night calls for a functionally fashionable bag that adds finishing touches to the look. D’Souza recommends a sling bag, preferably with an adjustable strap. A contemporary classic such as Hidesign’s Brick Lane 02 crossbody is well suited for a dinner date. Wear it with a tailored shirt, slim-fit pants, and luxe loafers. Pair Tumi’s utilitarian-inspired Alpha Bravo crossbody bag with a striped polo, classic jeans, and moccasins for a late-night movie date.
Practical and effortlessly portable, there’s a reason so many men still carry a wallet. And yet, something that is a necessity and gets used almost every day in a man’s life, is rarely a considered purchase. Today’s men’s wallets are leaner and cleaner than the previous ones. They are good-looking, have interesting details, and plenty of storage space.
Subtle yet distinct, they are the ideal accessory for festive occasions like weddings. Take the Montblanc Sartorial wallet, and pair it with an impeccably well-made designer suit and cap-toe Oxford shoes for a wedding reception. Tru Virtu’s textured wallet goes well with an Indo-western ensemble. Michael Kors’s Michael Hudson colour- block logo wallet makes a bold statement, and is a flattering companion for a regal white or cream shade sherwani and embroidered mojaris.