One of the many privileges the fashion pack allows itself is the right to carry the most mammoth bag one can buy. Whether it’s a supersized Hermès Birkin or a rainbow bright duffle from American Apparel, editors to style students like their purses portly.
This crosses gender lines too. Otherwise dapperly dressed fashion men have no issue throwing away a few masculinity points by carrying a lux, leather tote larger than Mary Poppins’ bottomless carpet bag.
Size has its purpose especially when attending Toronto’s fashion week. Every show, seats are stacked with swag (usually a disposable razor, tube of lipstick and/or chocolate truffle) and a thick, press kit folder. With shows running hourly from noon to almost midnight, a carryall quickly inflates.
The problem is while human capacity is considered when a group like the Fashion Design Council of Canada is calculating how many fashionistas they can fit in their venue, our big bags mean we’re actually taking up twice as much room. Reduced personal space, heightened claustrophobia and increased bruising from mega sacks carelessly swung in your direction as their owners navigate through the maze of other mega sacks is inevitable.
In an effort to help the lack-of-space situation, I decided to downsize this season. Surfing menswear websites like Men.Style.com and TheSartorialist, I noticed that boys from Florence to the streets of New York were converting to the portfolio. Handsome men in bespoke suits accessorized with Louis Vuitton pockets under their arms or leather bound notebooks in their hands and nothing else.
I picked my portfolio from the stock at M0851 . It was dove grey leather and the exact size of my reporter Moleskine. Inside its zipped shell was enough room for credit and business cards, a set of house keys and a Crackberry. I would not be able to stash a stitch of swag in its minimal form but if it meant freedom from the weight of my man purse, I was happy to simplify.
“Are you carrying a clutch?” questioned the FDCC’s Brooklyn Brownstone upon spotting my new diminutive bag on fashion week’s opening day?
The thought that my pocketbook actually came off a bit dainty and feminine had occurred to me but I laughed politely and carried on with my kill-the-editor’s-bag crusade.
My blackberry rang after a fashion show later that day and the boyfriend on the other end of the line wanted to know why I had called him and hung up twenty times over the past twenty minutes? I had perched the portfolio in my lap and used it as a desk during the show. My runway side scribbling must have repeatedly pressed SEND and END. It looked like all I would gain from my bag switch-up was learning how to engage my mobile’s key lock.
I’m not the only one testing the frontier of men’s bagwear. Strut fashion editor Serge Kerbel looks all business in his suits finished off with a svelte black, hard sided briefcase. Designer Marc Jacobs (pictured above) has been photographed recently carrying his take on the man clutch which looks more like a leather toiletry bag.
If you’re still not convinced, look at the other extreme of the bag trend. Shops like TNT Blu in Hazelton Lanes and Lileo at the Distillery District are selling canvas summer satchels the size of hockey bags that make the carrier look like he’s joining a pack of hipster hobos on the boxcar to Fashion Victimville. To each man, his own baggage but, in this instance, I’m packing light.