Have you noticed? Men’s handbags, man bags, murses, or man purses are popping up on the runways, in stores, and all over social media. (Read: The Next Trend: Men with Bags) Historically, men have used briefcases, backpacks, gym bags, and weekender bags without much notice. Any other type of bag was generally considered off limits. Designers of menswear are now promoting the use of handbags by redesigning them with a thicker shoulder strap and a more (dare we say) “masculine” cross body aesthetic. Others are designing popular women’s bags in larger sizes to appeal to men, such as the Birkin 40, Kelly 50, the oversized and colorful Chanel flap bag, the large Dior Book tote and saddle bag to name a few.
In fact, Dior reintroduced the man’s version of its saddle bag by adding a more “masculine” cross body strap, making it the most desired menswear accessory of the season. Once considered the most feminine handbag in the early 2000’s, the saddle bag’s introduction into the menswear line has exploded in popularity. Designers are including handbags on men as an extension of their clothing. The function of a handbag is to carry things regardless of gender. Men have just as many items to carry as women, wallet, electronics, cell phone, glasses, etc. The more men’s clothing is designed as “genderless,” the more men will find carrying a tote bag, saddle bag, or other handbag, just an extension of their outfit. (Read: Why We’re Obsessed With Men’s Spring/Summer 2020 Bags)
The existing gender neutral bags on the market are merely redesigned backpacks, gym bags or weekender bags that offer more options, such as smooth leather, choice of colors and textures, and a phone charger. None of these fit the fashionable modern man’s aesthetic. Which is why we are seeing more men carrying versions of women’s designer handbags.
At Hermès, the Birkin 40 and Kelly 40 and 50 are considered travel bags with a masculine flare. However, more men are carrying these larger sized totes not only for travel, but for daily convenience and fashion.
At Chanel, we are seeing many men sport a Boy Bag cross body as well as the oversized flap bags introduced by Pharrell Williams in 2019. Although it was a capsule collection for Chanel, was this Chanel’s attempt to start a menswear line? (Read: Chanel x Pharrell: Bags from Chanel’s Unisex Collection)
On the men’s page of the Hermès website, the “man bags” listed are actually the same bags offered on the women’s page, in a larger, redesigned version. There is the “traditional” backpack, briefcase, messenger bag, tote bag, and overnight travel bag. But there is also the Bolide 1923 in size 45 with a baseball design, the Herbag Zip Retourne Cabine Bag, a Garden Party 49 Voyage Bag, three belt bags, and several briefcases including the Kelly Depeches 36. There is also a Birkin Endless Road pictured, but not listed for sale, on the website. We often see men on social media sporting Birkin 40s, Birkin HAC, and Kelly 50s. (Read: Birkins Aren’t Just for Women)
Men now carry their man bags on their shoulders and under their arms, the same way women do. Men are buying and styling women’s handbags to go with their outfits and it is becoming more commonplace among menswear, streetwear, and in the hip hop world. Designers embrace men’s desire for a bag that is both stylish and functional, whether it is a larger version of the women’s bag, or the same size bag women use. Designers realize they can sell twice as many bags by promoting all their bags in both the women’s and men’s departments. Similarly, women are enjoying the option of buying handbags in the men’s departments as it may offer a unique twist on the design they are used to seeing. (Read: Men’s Handbags – Shopping the Other Side)
Ethan Price said it best in his article, “How the Handbag Became Gender Neutral:”
“What Stefan Cooke and other designers are trying to do is turn
the handbag into a genderless object, giving men the opportunity
to enjoy beautiful things without shame. A man wearing a handbag
is just a man with a bag, trying to get on with his life. The
handbag . . . [is] simply a beautiful and practical thing without gender.”
How do you feel about your man sporting a bag across his chest, on his shoulder, or under his arm? We at Pursebop think the more the merrier. We embrace the fact that men can appreciate what we have known all along. The handbag is a key focal point of any outfit, hence our obsession.