It’s difficult to believe that, just a few years ago, pretty much the only people wearing backpacks were either gap-toothed school kids who needed something to stash their Pokemon cards in or, well, backpackers.
These double-strapped receptacles were always far too functional to be considered fashionable, and to begin wearing one day-to-day was to admit that you’d given up. Choosing a backpack was the sartorial equivalent of trading in your sports car for a people carrier, or admitting that you like Coldplay.
These days, however, the men’s luggage landscape is an altogether different place, and this practical type of bag has become the gold standard. Fickle fashionistas who would’ve turned up their noses and scoffed at the idea of wearing one just five years ago are now the same people parading them around proudly at fashion weeks the world over, along with cross-body bags.
But it’s not just luxury backpacks; there’s been a revival of the everyday pack too, with more people than ever before using one for their day-to-day duties. So, why is it suddenly a fashion-approved bag trend?
“There was a gap in the market for an everyday use bag – a utilitarian product with an injection of design,” explains Lyndon Cormack, co-founder of Herschel Supply Co.
Brands like Herschel have been instrumental in the resurgence of the backpack; creating functional items that, unlike some of their predecessors, actually look good and make people want to wear them.
“People are always on the move these days and they have a lot of things to carry around, such as phones, laptops, books, wallets, gym gear, etc,” adds Lyndon. “We are in more of a commuting culture than we have ever been.”
Product director of Eastpak – another label leading the movement – Domitille Parent agrees that people need bags for whatever they happen to be doing. “The backpack is a versatile piece of fashion,” he says, “you can put all your essentials in it, and more. Whether you go to work, to the gym, or into the city for a day, the backpack has got you covered.”
If you’re in the market for some hands-free luggage, what exactly should you be looking out for? “The most important point is the quality and durability of the bag,” says Domitille. “The backpack is an accessory people should be able to rely on, in all situations. Look at size and functionality, depending on where you are going, and what you need to carry. Once you narrow it down, you can choose a style that fits with your personality or outfit.”
Remember it’s a practical bag, too. Look out for things like key clips, laptop pockets, and air mesh straps. Details make all the difference.
As our pick of the best backpack brands will attest.