For our new series "ask Garmento," the fashion zine's Editor-in-Chief and Founder, Jeremy Lewis, answers your most pressing questions on clothes, style and fashion. Any reader can pose a question to Garmento here. Today's question is "What is your favorite bag/purse for men?"
When I was visiting my family back in December I was shopping with my mother at T.J. Maxx. She eyed a smart looking messenger bag in the clearance section and asked if I was interested in having it as a Christmas present. My reply was the brattiest and most obnoxious possible: "Mooooooooom, I can't possibly wear a messenger bag." She didn't understand. Why not? "Messenger bags are sooooooo 2004, the new bag for men is the backpack, geez." She looked at me with with a bit of pity and shrugged.
For a long while the stylish bag of choice for the average man was the messenger bag. It assumed an air of urban cool: speedy, slick, dashing and quick. But times change and as a new craze for heritage came into vogue the messenger bag's time was up. Sure, certain brands were able to trick it out with leather trimmed canvas and old-timey buckles galore but the writing was on the wall: nice as the messenger bag is, nothing says tried and true utility like a backpack.
To be fair, my preference for the backpack is not without practical concerns. Since the weight is distributed on both shoulders and rests on the back it's far more comfortable and healthful than a messenger bag. Spacious and with copious compartments, it's perhaps more useful for housing my stash of pens and paper clips, notebooks, audio recorders, gum, etc. It's especially good for the overnight rendezvous, if you know what I mean. And should you need the option it converts to a one-shoulder carry with the simplest of ease. It's really a great thing.
Now that the heritage trend is on its last legs the backpack is still quite relevant as it fits right in with the new athletic look that's replaced it. Such bags, with fine options available from the likes of Nike, Northface, and Patagonia, exude a sporty youthfulness. Worn with athletic wear, in a total sport look, it can be even be heroic. Personally I love it most worn with a suit and sneakers, like how investment bankers do on their way home from the gym on the 6 train. There's nothing like subverting the stringency of business with some athletic affectation. Choosing a backpack can be a difficult task as manufacturers have jumped on its popularity and thus there are many many options. You can't go wrong with classics like JanSport and Eastpak which are not only affordable but also come in a wide range of colors and fabrications. Should you need a bit more luxe in your life almost every high end luxury brand sells one in leather. There is one caveat: if you do intend to carry a backpack and need to hold paper documents and files, I recommend getting a specialized document case as the backpack, designed for more rugged activities, doesn't keep them so neatly.