Tote bags are some of the most prevalent bags on the market, and some of the most common bags on the shoulders of both women and men across the world. With something as ubiquitous as a tote bag, it’s hard to imagine these bags not being around at any point in history. But, of course, as with all women’s handbags, tote bags had to be invented and grow to prominence before they could be what they are today.
If you’re wondering: What is a tote bag?; What are its unique qualities that make it unlike any other women’s handbag?; or How did we come up with tote bags?; here is a brief history and overview.
The word “tote” comes from the Latin “to carry.” This is an apt name for modern tote bags, as they are typically some of the largest handbags on the market and they are typically used to carry numerous objects or larger items, like laptops, notebooks, school books, groceries, and more.
History of the Tote Bag
Tote bags as we know them were first popularized in the 1940s and 1950s when L.L. Bean, an outdoor supply company and outdoor outfitters, introduced their “ice bag.” These ice bags were used to carry logs and ice—some of the heaviest and most cumbersome items to tote back then.
These bags were made of canvas, a style that has prevailed up into modern times. In the years since the ice bag, there have been new ways to style these bags, new trims, new materials with which to make them, new additions of inner and outer pockets, new sizes, and more. The first introduction of tote bags in the designer handbag sphere came in the 1980s when Bonnie Cashin created the iconic Cashin tote, an elegantly designed tote bag for the modern woman.
Tote Bags Today
Totes since the Bonnie Cashin tote bag have only become more ubiquitous. They’re popular merchandise items that organizations and causes can promote themselves with, they’re often used as bold statements in fashion—akin to the graphic tee, and they have been more recently promoted as eco-friendly alternatives to shopping bags.
Though many Americans forget their reusable tote bags at home, tote bags in theory provide a greener way to carry groceries and personal items than the traditional paper or plastic bags available at many retailers.
Tote bags are featured in almost every fashion designer’s handbag line, as large tote bags are the bag of choice for many women. Working and commuting women especially may opt for large tote bags that allow them to carry all their work material and their personal items, too. Our Essex Tote is one such large tote bag that offers plenty of storage for commuters, and in gorgeous colorways, too.
Tote Bag Styles
Every woman is different, so it only makes sense that tote bags for women should come in numerous different styles, shapes, and colors. For instance, the trendy Malibu Satchel may appeal to a younger woman who wants to make a bold fashion statement. This bag is also convertible—with straps that can be shortened to shoulder length or extended into a crossbody style.
Tote-ally Worth It
Tote bags are some of the most popular handbags for women, from graphic and unique handbags from your favorite band or restaurant to higher-end designer totes, there’s a tote bag for every lifestyle and fashion sensibility.