I have never owned a leather tote – and in fact, it wasn’t until my late twenties that I owned a handbag at all. Handbags – and especially leather tote bags – always felt like something an older, more grown-up version of me would carry. In my mind, leather totes always belonged to the type of woman who always remembers birthdays, is never without the perfect manicure, and drives a pristinely clean car.
I am not that woman.
But this year I’m tempted by a chic tote – and I’m not the only one.
Luxury retailer Matches Fashion recently reported a surge in sales of functional lifestyle bags like totes, while Afterpay’s Biannual Trends report suggests that roomier styles are becoming more popular.
“As a general trend, handbags are getting bigger,” confirms Lucy Wood, who styled this story. “While they have been cute and street style-worthy in the past, now we need more from our bags”
The Daily Edited white canvas tote with leather detail, $195; Lee Mathews tote, $199
It’s true; at a time when fewer of us are dressing up and heading into the office, our handbags need to complement our dialled-down lives and laidback aesthetic. They also need to hold different things: hand sanitiser, masks – maybe even groceries.
“As we eliminate plastic bags, we need to get more out of our day-to-day bags. I often find myself wanting to buy something from the supermarket or grocer on a whim, and when I’m without my own shopping bag, my handbag carries the extra load,” says Lucy.
That means that micro-handbags (remember them?) are out, and more practical bags like totes are in. Luckily, there’s a range of totes for every taste and budget. As well as those pictured here, there are stylish jute totes at Worktones ($45) and simple canvas totes at Able2Online ($55) and more structured and luxurious versions at AJE ($237) and David Jones, including Anya Hindmarch’s I Am Not A Designer Bag ($1299), made from 32 recycled plastic bottles.
Lucy points to the 100 per cent recycled Gunes Collective (below) as her personal favourite: “Not only is it good for the day-to-day shopping run but it would be a great beach bag and carry-on travel bag. I love the array of colours it comes in. Hello summer!”
Photographer: Sarah Adamson
Stylist: Lucy Wood