Totes for Blokes: In Japan, bags like this one (right) from Tsuchiya Kaban are similar to women's totes; Gucci's rugged tote (below) has been selling well among trendier U.S. men. Japan's Twist on the Man-Bag By AMY CHOZICK April 28, 2007; Page P4TOKYO -- The latest in men's fashion in Japan: large over-the-shoulder totes that look very much like women's purses. Japanese men began to depart from the standard briefcases a decade ago, but the trend has since evolved from messenger bags to small under-the-arm clutches and now to totes strewn over the shoulder with nonchalance. The look is making its way through Asia and is reaching some fashion-forward men in the U.S. A few years ago, Japanese designers began noticing that men were buying women's handbags to lug around their usual load of iPod, cellphone and magazines. So designers started coming out with versions exclusively for men in dark or neutral colors, with minimal trim and a place to put business cards or hold a pack of cigarettes. In the past year, men in South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan have started carrying similar totes. China's newly cash-rich male consumers are buying unisex Louis Vuitton and Burberry totes to show off their wealth. Some makers are trying to tempt men outside Asia. In the U.S., Coach has expanded its offerings of masculine-looking totes for blokes. Saks Fifth Avenue says a natural-colored cotton tote with tan and blue handles and leather trim by Gucci has been selling well among trendier men. Still, most American men would prefer a messenger bag so that their hands are free, says Michael Macko, Saks's men's fashion director. Tokyo-based bag maker Tsuchiya Kaban was one of the first Japanese companies to notice that its male customers, mostly in their 20s and 30s, were yearning for an over-the-shoulder bag of their own. Sales of Tsuchiya Kaban's "toto" bags for men are now equal to its briefcase sales. "Men want a bag to go with suits but that also matches their casual daily life," a company spokesman says.