Because you can't have depths without surfaces.
Linda Grant, thinking about clothes, books and other matters.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Is this a handbag? Harry poses a question




Of course it's a back pack. Or it could be called a day sack, or ruck sack, or a shoulder bag. Its near relatives might be called a messenger bag, a courier satchel, or laptop case. They are all bags for men.

I have occasionally referred to mine as a handbag, and have met with looks somewhat askance ( female) or mildly uneasy ( male). It would seem to be a bit of a gender tease .
But the truth of the matter is that I am not a messenger or a courier, and my bag rarely has a laptop in it. It might be retailed as a day sack, but I'm not actually going to call it that. It's a handbag in so much as it is where I carry my keys, diary, analgesics, notebook, umbrella, indigestion remedy, sunglasses, i-pod and Murakami novel. 
Stating the blindingly obvious: men do not have the same relationship with their bags that women do. But bags for men have been evolving and it is now possible to make more discriminating choices in this area. Without compromising one's masculinity. Well, the younger members of the species seem to be able to. But it remains a conundrum for the older male. Or perhaps it's off their radar.
Earlier this year I bought a lap top case by Mandarina Duck. I had coveted something from their range having seen the most stylish of briefcases in Venice a few years ago.The Mandarina  Duck case is immensely practical; it even has its own rain hood built in. But it is pleasingly designed, and manages  to avoid being one of those macho executive statements by brands such as Tumi that shops in departure lounges are so full of. And that makes a change.
Yesterday in  the quite modish Reiss menswear window display  I noticed two handbags. Of course they call them despatch bags. 

Hadley Freeman is banned from Paul Smth shows

Although bans have been sprinkled around the fashion press for some time, they do seem to be coming down with increasing frequency - a sign, perhaps, of a growing anxiety in the luxury market that with the impending economic downturn not as many people are buying £900 dresses and trousers. It is also likely to be a reflection of the power of advertising. Fashion magazines and some newspapers are financially dependent on fashion advertisers, which muffles the writers who work for them. They are unable to say anything remotely negative about the clothes, out of fear of losing that precious £100,000-a-year advertising account, which is why so much fashion coverage often reads as little more than advertorial puff and fluff. Designers then get used to such obsequiousness so that any words of dissent are treated as a shocking display of heresy.


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