There was a time when these male accessories were scoffed at by Desperate Dan types, who would have sooner shaved their legs than carry a handbag. But no longer. It helps that man bags come in many guises, from messenger bags, big enough for a laptop, to wrist-strap-size; from hunters’ style to funky. Gucci has brought out a camel brown messenger bag, stained to give a vintage look, which costs £2,320 – proving that women don’t have a monopoly on spending silly money on such fripperies. See it on ManBags.org.
Stowing all your daily junk in one carry-all puts less strain on trouser pockets and doesn’t wreck the line of a jacket, although the health and safety mob, ever vigilant, do point out the dangers of developing back problems. The average man apparently carries up to 6.2kgs in his bag. How, then, they are meant to stuff it all into the latest fashion fad, the man clutch, is beyond me. So let’s just park that concept for the time being and consider its bigger, butcher, older brother.
Having decided a man bag doesn’t make you look like a big girl’s blouse, then, which one do you buy? A good place to start is Blokesbags.co.uk. Its Texas model (sounding suitably big and butch) by Hanssen costs £104.99, comes in black or brown and has a removable leather wrist strap. The Visconti ring iPad/netbook bag is a natty design, with the outer flap cut on the diagonal, in brown hunter leather, costing £69.99.
But the show-stopper has to be the Makki eel skin messenger bag at £270. It’s the rea-eel deal, made from hundreds of eel skins sewn together, and is very soft and hard wearing. The skins are a by-product of farmed eel food production in South Korea. And no, the bags do not smell!
Thomas Lyte, the luxury leather and silver goods retailer, offers a very English dispatch bag, the Duxford (above left). In black leather, lined with plum silk, it is a classic design with a substantial lock. It costs £395.
Online leather bag store Myleatherbag.co.uk can do you an eco-friendly messenger bag, the Tribe Veg Tan (left), made of leather tanned using natural dyes rather than chemicals. It is based on the design of leather map cases used during the two world wars, is about the size of an iPad, and costs £99.95 (free UK delivery).
Mulberry goes from strength to strength and its new Rockley Messenger Bag at £575 comes in chocolate brown or gunmetal smooth leather and has a cross-body strap. I recommend its factory outlet store for massive savings. It has the Byrnmore bag for Macbook Pro at £150, down from £666.
Designer Paul Smith has his finger in many pies, so it’s no surprise to know he has a range of man bags to complement his fashion range. It’s hard to resist the Las Vegas range, including the messenger bag showing a Mini car parked in front of the Las Vegas sign (right), at £265. Stockists include Selfridges, which is also selling the tactile Madpax range of backpacks. They come in a range of colours, in the Spiketus Rex or Gator design, and are £40 each.