The rise of tote bags - where did our tote bag obsession come from?

The ultimate guide as to why we love these tote-ally practical bags

multiple writers
13th March 2023
Image: Instagram @typouk
If you’re reading this article, it’s pretty likely you own a tote bag. Useful and diverse, they are one of the most popular accessories out there. 

You may choose to view the tote bag as just a shopping bag, quick, easy-to-use, practical and useful. You may have not even put any thought into this item - they can be picked up for free at events, open days and even in shops. For many people, they are simply convenient. However, I think the tote bag is a much more powerful, statement fashion piece than it appears.

However, I think the tote bag is a much more powerful, statement fashion piece than it appears

A tote bag is a means of self expression. They are a canvas to show your identity and personality to the world, as you can very obviously convey your values, interests, an event you went to, an artist that inspires you or the music you love. Their simple form makes them easy to design and easy to customise, allowing us to make our own or find a specific design online to buy; it also means they are an incredibly affordable way to personalise your outfits. It is possible to convey any message you like through a tote bag, a concept which can be personal, but has been capitalised on by many brands, shops and companies.

Image: Instagram @typouk

Organisations use them to advertise themselves, as we collect them very cheaply or for free at events. Using them in our everyday lives, walking around carrying them, provides free publicity and promotion for the companies. One example is the university tote bag, which I’m sure most of us have a few in our wardrobes, picked up from open days. Here, tote bags are incredibly powerful in marketing, advertising and in influencing our consumer choices.

They are for everyone, can be used for everything, and tote-ally here to stay

We can’t overlook the impact of fast fashion on the rise of the tote bag. As a cheap and simple accessory, they can be mass manufactured and fit into the category of ‘disposable’ fashion. Fast fashion has changed our mindset around clothing, now we buy more and buy less quality pieces, such as the tote bag. 

The main draw of the tote bag is its versatility: one day it is a reusable shopping bag, the next your everyday bag carrying all your uni essentials, part of a curated outfit or simply used for convenience. They are for everyone, can be used for everything, and tote-ally here to stay.

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