At long last, bags are taking centre stage in the male fashion ensemble. It’s not surprising that we’re being inundated with different styles, different materials and, of course, different brands. But having the right bag isn’t where the job ends. In fact, that’s where the real job begins. At the end of the day, the accessory can’t break a look, but it certainly can make one. So just like everything else has an appropriate time and place, so do bags. Your Valentino polyurethane messenger bag may work for the daily walking commute, but travelling with it for an overnight trip is just not right. Theoretically, matching your bag to your outfit would make the most sense. If you are wearing a sharp three-piece suit for a business meeting, perhaps carrying that canvas backpack may not make sense. In general, know your audience. Premium fabrics generally help to dress up smarter, so just know that you are what you wear *and* carry.
On that note, beyond the fabric, these days we’ve got patterns and colours that run the gamut. Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Fendi have taken their iconic prints and flipped them on their heads, with limited edition Supreme-sanctioned street collabs. These are surely statement bags, much more likely to draw heads than any snazzy tie or pair of socks. But remember, sometimes too much crazy takes away from your style, and you become a walking advertisement for the brands. Taking a bold colour and simply making the colour the statement is a great way to succumb to becoming the brand. I had a red Prada leather Saffiano bag that frankly did the job of distinguishing me, without trying hard. Of course, it takes time to build up to red and other bright colours. Just like shirts and trousers, have your basic colours (black, tan, navy) and a solid pattern (be it quilted or chequered) in your wardrobe. Once you are stocked, then explore the louder and more unique bags.
Budgets aren’t unlimited, but keep in mind that investing in a good quality bag trumps having a variety, and while it may seem vegan-kosher to buy faux leather as opposed to pure leather, just be aware that the quality won’t compare. While I’m not a huge proponent of leather and I opt for different materials altogether, trying to replicate a feel and fabric isn’t the way to quality. A good leather bag isn’t as costly as you think, and remember, a vintage leather bag can also work, especially if it’s been maintained well. You are recycling a good quality product, and you aren’t adding to the sales of new leather goods.
It’s important to recognize that there’s a reason so many different styles of bags are now infiltrating the market. Different needs demand different bags. Recognize that carrying a book may only require a shoulder bag, but carrying a change of clothes may require an overnight bag – these are logical questions you have to answer before determining what bag to take and when. Be practical in your choice selection, and when that fails, backpacks and messenger bags can get you through many different scenarios.
Utility is important. While women often choose the bag that best serves their outfit, practicality matters for men. You need compartments to fit the chargers, the accessories, the documents needing to be carried. Don’t let vanity result in your work not getting done. After all, the bag is meant to help you, not hinder your life. At the end of the day, a bag is only as good as it is useful. Whether it is meant to be a statement or actually just a vessel for transporting the things needed for the day – that’s your choice. But always remember that no bag is simply a bag – so know what you want it to say about you, or else be ready for it tell your story to others without your say.