Any designer worth their full-grain leather knows one thing; toy with accessories at your peril. These are the nuts and bolts that keep the wheels of global luxury brands turning, allowing said designer to do more or less what they want on the catwalks, as long as those accessories – aspirational, but a shade more affordable than the clothes – do their job and fly out of stores and airport concessions.
Which makes Louis Vuitton’s new direction all the more bold;the house’s new head of menswear Virgil Abloh, has created a new term – “accessomorphosis” – to describe his multi-faceted men’s bags; an across-the-body bag – the like you’d normally see in velcro at a Florida theme park – luxed-up and aping the shape of a briefcase, for example.
Meanwhile at Dior Man,newly installed Brit designer Kim Jones has tinkered with the formula of the house’s iconic women’s Saddle Bag from the Nineties to apply it to a man’s wardrobe.
Does the inner machinations at a rarefied Paris fashion house have any bearing on what you’ll swing out the door with come September when we’re done with holidays and imbued with (or attempting) back-to-work vigour? Well, yes and no.
Is the average British man going to be sporting the latest avant garde designs straight off the Eurostar when he skips back into the office? Most likely not, but the shift in men’s accessories in the last decade or so has seen the evolution of items met with a degree of sniggering to part of the kit and caboodle of men’s dress.
And as they get more diverse and experimental, it’s clear they fall into two camps; classic and cutting edge. The classics are the perennial fail-safes; tote bags and briefcases in a discreet leather, and even rucksacks, with have entered the everyday arena outside the gym and are a perfectly feasible option with smart attire.
And the more hifalutin and outre; cross body bags – formally you’d term these ‘bum bags’ – worn diagonally on the torso, and if you’re taking a tip from Louis Vuitton and Dior, worn across suits to boot. Challenging for the average guy? Perhaps, but you can’t deny it looks dynamic (although my dour Scottish pragmatism has me worried about jacket and shirt creasing from the straps).
Perhaps, as you examine your return to work ensemble, a middle ground is your ally here. Prada made humble nylon a thing of desirability in the 1990s, and continues to do so in bags that are lightweight but well made, discreet enough to blend in with a corporate wardrobe but with a hint of sporty vim.
And as a natural progression along from the document wallet or portfolio cases, it’s worth considering what’s now fancifully termed a “pouchette”; the document wallet’s Frenchified brother with a dicky bow, effectively. Whatever the terminology, they’re sleek, smart and effective for stashing every day business ephemera.
Let the fashion houses angst over wording and update your return to work with a man bag that will add to your own style language.