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Inside the men’s luxury bag boom

Despite the evolution of menswear beyond gender norms, there’s still much less variation in a man’s wardrobe to play with, so bags provide a new way to accessorise, says journalist and blogger Dino Bonačić founder of blog ‘Handbags at Dawn’. “Beyond the big brands, young menswear designers also need to be credited with creating new styles of men’s bags beyond the traditional shapes,” Bonačić says, including London designer Stefan Cooke’s reworked vintage bags with sculptural metal straps. 

Still room to innovate

Men tend to purchase bags for the longer run, so they’re not necessarily buying a new bag every season, but more based on their needs, DeLeon says. “In men’s the bag business tends to be more purpose-driven, so he might be looking to upgrade his carry-on now that he’s travelling more or realises that he needs something more luxe and professional-looking as he goes back to the office.” There’s still opportunity for new bag styles and brands to win market share because of a shortage of options, says Bonačić.

In addition to the luxury handbag styles, a new trend is emerging in modular or more utilitarian luxury bags, too. French men’s bag brand Côte&Ciel launched 15 years ago but following acquisition by Coty Inc CEO Bernd Beetz in 2020, the brand has had a revamp, with designer Emilie Arnault creating contemporary tote bags, backpacks, crossbody and more, in nylon and leather. The brand also collaborates with Yohji Yamamoto’s Y’s label each season and has previously worked with Henrik Vibskov and Comme des Garçons. Côte&Ciel pieces retail from €85 for a pochette bag to over €1,095 for a leather backpack. 

Seeing a desire for modular bags, Côte&Ciel has implemented clips and elements where customers can fasten its smaller bags onto bigger bags. “Micro accessories are something we’ve seen grow quite a lot, as an upsell on an existing piece,” says artistic director Graeme Gaughan. Some men are simply wearing lanyards from Aimé Leon Dore to carry essentials round their necks, which Throwing Fits’s Schlossman points out he’s seen around New York of late. 

These innovations could be smart, as more innovation is needed to harness the growth opportunity of the men’s luxury bag market, says Scherdel. 

“We’re still quite narrow in terms of what we see as a men’s bag,” he says. “I think it’s still a crossbody tote backpack or an oversized clutch or maybe a document holder.” Where we’ll see development is bags that aren’t necessarily a necessity, but bags that show direction of travel and a mood, he adds. “You can experiment a lot with bags when it comes to materials. I’d definitely like to see a bit more experimenting going on in terms of what the shapes are. We do see the same variations of shapes in all the showrooms. If that could come from a real headline super brand, that would be really great too — to invigorate the space a little.”

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