The Everyday Man Bag: Essential Accessory or Metro Sexual Phenomenon?

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Published: 30th April 2009
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Up to fifteen years ago everyday bags for men mainly consisted of stiff and structured briefcases for work. Most men wore suits to work, and this best suited the look. For casual use the only option was a backpack which does not offer a fashionable look. As we have entered the 21st century, men's designer bags have exploded in popularity with new choices such as the messenger bag and tote. In this article I will analyse whether these new style designer bags are accessible for all men, or just the 'Metro Sexual' man.



Society is constantly changing and fashion is very quick at reflecting this. With the bag, it has traditionally been considered a fashion item for women but a purely functional one for men. The classic briefcase was intended to look smart with a tailored suit, and suitable to fit some papers and very little else. As we have moved into the 21st century there have been some interesting social, technological and cultural changes. A change in the workplace has been the switch from suit and tie to 'business-casual' attire, which has allowed more self expression for the man. In addition, the traditional roles accepted by men and women have been challenged and broken down. With the common use of a laptop computer and other accessories such as an ipod, men simply have more to carry than just a few papers.



Modern society has therefore created a demand for a fashionable and more casual bag for men. Men's bags have become more relaxed (made from softer materials), more spacious, more comfortable to wear and much more individual and fashionable. Because these ideas have been associated with the handbag, some may consider the man bag a bit too feminine. The truth is though that the man bag has become a hugely popular item, adopted by all types of men. Designers have made every effort to design fashionable bags that retain a masculine identity (e.g. more chunky) so as not to put the general population off.



The messenger bag has allowed men to use the shoulder bag, without looking feminine. Initially used by courier messengers, they have entered the mainstream due to its comfort, practicality and versatility in design. Most importantly it has a more urban cool to it than a briefcase, suiting today's casual work environment. Messenger bags are less structured and softer than a briefcase, offering much more flexibility in what can be carried. There are many different designs and fabrics used on messenger bags. They can be more structured, ideal for a professional look, or soft for casual wear. Leather messenger bags look smart, whilst canvas or nylon is more relaxed.



Most men now accept the messenger bag as a male fashion accessory. There are bags however that push the boundaries of masculinity, most noticeably the tote bag. Its appearance can be likened to a designer shopping bag with carry handles and a zip fastener. A horizontal design gives the appearance of a soft briefcase, and is therefore quite acceptable. A vertical shape give a more feminine look and is best suited to the confident metro-sexual man. Most tote bags have the option of using a shoulder strap, which gives an appearance similar to a messenger bag.



It seems briefcases are out, and relaxed everyday bags for men are in fashion. I don't think this is a passing fashion craze, as this change has been driven by the needs of the modern man. As more men start using shoulder bags and totes, the more it becomes accepted as a masculine fashion accessory. As with all fashion, there is a wide variety of bags that range from the classical to the more risky. Don't let these metro-sexual bags put you off a man bag altogether, as they are a hugely useful and trendy item.


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