Man Bags


Feb 23, 2006

How to Succeed at Carrying It All

Philippe Regard for The New York Times
Only three bags, from the reliable luggage makers Il Bisonte, Ghurka and Filson, could be found that precisely meet the specifications cited here and look stylish enough to pass as a professional work bag. But several, from Mulberry, Louis Vuitton, Bally, Jack Spade and Cloak, come close. They are the right size to accommodate both kinds of sweat (literal and metaphoric) and lack only the very desirable barrier that keeps the two from mingling. Top row: Mulberry canvas and leather bag, $995 at Mulberry and Bally leather bag, $950 at Bloomingdale’s. Filson paraffin-coated twill and leather laptop bag, $295 at Camouflage and Middle row: Il Bisonte expandable leather briefcase, $1,588 at Il Bisonte. Jack Spade cotton duck briefcase, $545 at Jack Spade and Bottom row: Ghurka twill and leather bag, $995 at Ghurka and Louis Vuitton leather bag, $1,650 at Louis Vuitton. Cloak calfskin shoulder bag, $545 at Cloak.

Published: December 7, 2006

WHEN future students of civilization and its contents pore over early 21st-century fashion shows for signs of life, dissertations will doubtlessly be revved up to deconstruct contemporary man’s apparent obsession with dashing away for the weekend. But those dissertations will falter when a little digging reveals that all of those weekender bags in the men’s runway shows were packed with the emperor’s new clothes.
It is a mystery what man — or, indeed, if any man — buys such bags. They are far too costly, precious and unwieldy to toss around with ease (much less with brio), lacking as they do wheels, shoulder straps or even the materials (crocodile?) that are all but standard for luggage makers today. Moreover — and here’s the killer — if you were going to plunk down some serious green for a status-y bag, wouldn’t you spend it for one that the world could see every day?
With these common-sense principles in play, the greater mystery is why it is so difficult to find a bag that men really do need: one that can comfortably and stylishly hold both work stuff and gym gear. Most men make do with two: a shoulder bag for, say, papers and a laptop; and a nylon gym bag with Adidas or Puma blaring from the side that is so oversize as to suggest that your gym makes you bring your own weights.
Such bags should abound. And yet inquiries at paragons of luxury like Prada and Gucci, Barneys and Saks were met with rebuffs shaded with surprise. “You’d think, right?” was uttered more than once. Yes, you would.
If the universe (also known as Miuccia Prada) is listening, maybe it will hear what men need. That is, a single bag that is not too big or too small — about 17 inches long, 12 inches high and 6 or 7 inches wide. It should have one compartment just roomy enough for a modicum of gym gear (a modest pair of sneakers and your workout clothes). And it should have another compartment large enough for the papers, laptop and maybe the latest copy of Men’s Vogue, just so you can imagine what it would be like to go away for a weekend with an $8,000 bag.
Nice article. Men's bags are usually ignored. My husband is so hard on anything he carries. I upgraded him from a nylon bag to a coach messenger, and that's holding up quite well.

What are everyone elses SO/BF/HB carrying or getting?


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