Men's Handbags: Reshaping History

Men's Handbags: Reshaping History - C-SQUARE

Men's bags are in style right now, whether it be on the runway, in the media, or on the streets. While briefcases and backpacks never really went out of style, over the past few years, men have begun to adopt traditionally feminine accessory trends. It seems that no silhouette is off limits, from top handle purses to mini crossbody bags.


Men's and unisex handbag sales in the US increased by an astounding 700% in 2021 compared to 2018 according to market research firm NPD Group. Vogue recently reported that handbag sales are giving sneakers a run for their money on the second-hand market.


As menswear has adopted traditionally feminine items like skirts, heels, and nail polish, the rise in gender fluidity has undoubtedly had an impact. Men are now permitted to share in this practicality that has been practised for ages by women who transport their belongings in bags of all sizes and shapes. Bags can also instantly uplift an outfit.




A Look into The History of Men’s Bags

Most of the bag designs we are familiar with and use today were created by the turn of the 20th century. The popularity of sports and wellness in the 1980s, however, led to a rise in fitness-focused bags made of synthetic materials like nylon. Fanny packs, which were first created in the middle of the 20th century for downhill skiers and hikers (and are very similar to the earlier girdle pouch), became very popular and enabled hands-free fashion. It was even named the top product of 1988 by Adweek. During the decade, duffel bags gained popularity as an update to the carryall.


Pharrell with a handbag


Streetwear’s Impact on Men’s Handbags

In the 2010s, streetwear's ascent into luxury fashion completely upended the sector as we previously knew it. Major trends started to emerge on the street before being dictated by high fashion, which used to be the case.


The backpack gained popularity at the start of the decade as men's fashion leaned more toward sportswear. And in turn, they were getting promoted at fashion shows globally.


Kanye West wearing a backpack


Current Changes in Menswear

Everything seems to be acceptable these days, but the adoption of traditionally feminine bag styles in menswear is especially timely, as evidenced by Kim Jones' reinvention of the Saddle bag at Dior and Hermès' release of the Rock, the first Birkin for men. Meanwhile, brands like Telfar have made genderless mini bags popular, and more and more male celebrities are sporting handbags.


Tyler The Creator wearing a handbag