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Men bag themselves a new best friend

Sitting at my feet as I write this week’s column is an old pal, a lovely caramel-coloured, super-soft friend who I feel has come to the natural end of his life.

To dispose of him, instead of “sending him off to a farm” or taking him on a harrowing journey to the vets, I’ll simply squash him into the back of the wardrobe. But don’t ring the RSPCA just yet - I’m not talking about the family dog but my trusty man bag.

Ever since Mark Simpson first used the term ‘metrosexual’ in The Independent back in 1994, the man bag has been a symbol of a more liberal attitude to fashion’s gender stereotypes but, at getting on for 20 years old, it looks like this dog had its day a long time ago. Some had already resigned man bags to the style scrapheap aeons ago while other, less cosmopolitan souls labelled them feminine and never gave them a chance. But they now feel well and truly over.

If you looked around an office 10 years ago, men would sport one of only three styles: an awfully smart and serious briefcase, a sad-looking variety of despatch and record bags and the plasticy, Grange Hill-style cheap rectangular bags. As such, the man bag flourished, offering a mature, smart but more personality-rich and less stuffy option for stylish men.

Today the need for such a bag remains but the choices are far more varied: satchels got cool again (the pinnacle surely being the work Julie Deane at The Cambridge Satchel Company is doing with the likes of Christopher Shannon), backpacks grew up, totes became more structured and holdalls went upmarket. In short, men’s styles have become more luxurious, more desirable and more refined - where there was ‘man bag’ is now just ‘bag’.
Finally, men’s accessories have truly caught up with women’s - looks like you can teach an old dog new tricks.

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