‘Boys wearing bags’ is not a new concept. It is a growing trend featured heavily on runways and in crowds outside menswear fashion shows. From purses to backpacks, crossbodys to bumbags it is becoming the norm for men to confidently accessorise with bags. Our Head of Handbags and Accessories, Reece Morgan reveals more about the industry and his views on the ever changing fashion landscape for men.
Handbags are an accessory traditionally associated with women’s fashion, however we are starting to see attitudes towards bags in menswear fashion changing. Where does your inspiration come from for wearing bags?
I have been wearing handbags for such a long time now that it feels like second nature to me and an integral part of my personal style. Yes, handbags are traditionally associated with women’s fashion, however, there is an exciting shift happening within the industry; we are seeing the fluidity and androgyny that I have always longed for within the luxury sector.
I wouldn’t say I draw inspiration from anything or anyone for wearing bags in particular, although, from a young age I have always admired the likes of Marc Jacobs for having the confidence to sport a Hermes Birkin on the beach for example, he has always been so cool to me and a great example of someone who dresses and accessories fearlessly!
I love seeing other men express themselves through their handbags on Instagram too, it is such a great way to find inspiration for your next purchase! Shout-out to my dear friend Nehemiah (@nehemiahfalber), his taste in handbags is impeccable! I also draw bagspiration from Phil Pierce (@birkinclub4boys), Garrick (@gaaarrickk), The Birkin Boy (@thebirkinboy) and Ezra J William (@ezrajwilliam) - be sure to check them out.
Do you think it's a culture change for men wearing bags?
In recent runways there has been an obvious movement with the relationship between men and bags. It is clear handbags are becoming more acceptable for men to wear as a part of their everyday look. However, this isn't a new concept, bags have been integrated into the male wardrobe for years. City workers use briefcases as second nature, travellers use holdalls and festival goers use belt bags - so function has historically played the largest part in mens accessories. These examples are typically quite masculine, featuring a muted colour palette of black, brown, beige or navy with the exception of luggage maybe showcasing a monogram print.
Exploring the concept of wearing bags more fearlessly however, such as wearing a Fendi Baguette crossbody bag, a Dior Saddle Bag or Louis Vuitton Pochette Voyage clutch is definitely a culture change. These bags are worn to be seen. They come in a spectrum of colours and designs to add to your outfit as a staple accessory - function is secondary. I hope that men wearing bags as an accessory will become increasingly popular and slowly become a permanent integral feature in the male wardrobe.
What is typically inside your bag?
It really does depend on the bag I am carrying and how busy I am. I am an over-packer so if given the space, I will fill it! However, on a typical day you will find:
Two phones; one business, one personal.
Louis Vuitton Cosmetic Pouch
Chanel Small Boy Flap Wallet
Keys; usually inside another pouch so I do not scratch the interior of the bag I am using
Travel Size Fragrance; at the moment I am wearing Dior Oud Ispahan.
How many handbags do you own?
Last time I checked, I had around twenty handbags in my closet and I intend to keep it at this number. As much as I long for a hundred item strong collection, I now have a one-in-one-out rule as I simply do not have time to wear them all and it seems a waste them sitting in my walk-in. My collection is highly varied in terms of styles and includes everything from cool Givenchy pouches, modern Louis Vuitton backpacks to classic Hermes Birkin’s.
Do you see a bag as a key accessory to completing your look, or more of a statement or status piece?
They are definitely a key accessory to my look, a staple in fact! However, as handbags are such a passion of mine, I have never seen them as a status piece; I wear them out of admiration of the brands, craftsmanship and simply because I love them. Secondary to that, I choose my handbags based on style and of course, how it will look with the outfit I am wearing that day.
Although my personal style is relatively eclectic, I always purchase classic handbags as they are better investments and can usually be worn with any look; I always go for neutral colours, classic monograms and plenty of black!
Fendi and Louis Vuitton have been first movers in the world of fashion, dressing male models with handbags on their recent catwalks. With Virgil Abloh being an innovator for mens fashion, changing the direction of fashion and trends for Louis Vuitton and breaking barriers. Do you take inspiration from this? And do you think it's only a matter of time before other fashion houses begin to integrate the new movement on their catwalks, slowly becoming the norm?
I think Virgil Abloh is key player in the evolution of luxury menswear. He is part of the change in male perceptions on fashion and has breathed a breath of fresh air into Louis Vuitton; it is just what they needed. I am excited to see what else he does for the brand in the future as I am already highly impressed.
Since Virgil was appointed at Louis Vuitton, Kim Jones at Dior and Hedi Slimane at Celine, it has shaken the industry up and become one of the most exciting times in menswear history for such a multitude of reasons, not to mention record-breaking sales for 2018. The collections feel more free, fluid, younger with lots of cultural influence.
What do you think about Pharrell Williams new Unisex line that he has just launched with Chanel?
I think being a unisex line, it is already such a different approach for Chanel as a brand. Lots of men have been wearing items from Chanel’s ladies collections for years so it was only a matter of time before they released something solid for us guys too! With someone as celebrated as Pharrell being Chanel’s first ever guest collaborator, we will hopefully see a positive impact and desensitised views on unisex fashion within the luxury market; not to mention the handbags are so playful - I need the Canary Yellow XXL Flap Bag in my closet!
Have you ever felt uncomfortable or out of place purchasing a handbag from a typically female dominated shopping environment?
I can’t say I have ever felt uncomfortable, however, it always aggravates me when I am advised to wear something hyper-masculine and extra large just because I am a guy - it’s just not my vibe at all. If I want to wear a Chanel Mini Flap Bag in Fuschia Pink, I will!
What handbags would you recommend for a man who is looking to start a collection?
I think it is best to start with what you are comfortable with, for me I use my bag to carry around my necessities, so if you are struggling to fit your iPhone, wallet or whatever you may need for that day in your pockets then trial a bag that is practical and versatile like a Louis Vuitton Bum Bag that can be worn 3 ways or their new Utility Side Bag (which is super stylish) and see how you get on.
Trust me, you will soon start to think how you ever survived without one before! For me, a Hermes Birkin, Gucci Belt Bag or Goyard St. Louis are my staple handbags that I wear for everyday use. I tend to be more playful in the evening and wear my Louis Vuitton Mini Speedy or Petit Malle, Hermes Kelly Pochette or Chanel Classic Double Flap Bag.
It is important to wear whatever you want to wear and what makes you feel great, and not because you feel pressured. Popular handbags with my male clients include the Hermes Birkin in larger sizes including HAC’s, Dior Book Tote’s and most Louis Vuitton models.
Do you experience any negative comments or remarks when wearing a handbag? If so, how do you deal with it?
To be honest, I would be lying if I said I didn't get some people looking at me and probably wondering why I am carrying a handbag; nine times out of ten they are staring in admiration of whatever I am carrying that day! For me, it has always been a great talking point and I think people are interested by my personal style and confidence with self expression, hopefully.
Finally, a question we ask everyone; What is your dream handbag?
My dream handbag changes all the time. I have always wanted a Hermes Birkin 30cm Club in Etain, they are so hard to find in this size. Also, I have a Hermes Veau Doblis suede obsession at the moment and dream of a Birkin 25cm in Noir, another very hard to find item.