Men’s and women’s bags started off looking pretty much the same. Men and women may have held different items in the bags – the men’s bags usually held pipes and coins, while the women’s bags held lucky charms and jewellery – but the shape and materials were essentially the same. Women made both out of cloth and embroidered them. The shape was fairly simple and usually intended to be attached to the belt or wrist.
The change really came about when men’s clothing started to be made with pockets attached. All of a sudden, men did not really need bags anymore as all the essentials could be kept in the pockets. Their breeches and coats could hold everything they needed.
Women’s handbags really took off toward the end of the 19th century and the early 20th century. They evolved from practical carry-alls to fashionable items to be displayed.
However, it was not until the 1970s that men’s bags became fashionable. The reason for this is that men did not really need any bags before, as they could carry shoulder bag for women their personal belongings on them. It is with the development of technology that men really began to look at handbags.
Once upon a time, men could keep their work documents at work, but with the development of technology, it was not just the papers that needed to be carried, but also phones, laptops and so on.
The most popular men’s bags tend to be backpacks and messenger bags. These are designed to carry a large number of items without being too bulky and without placing too much pressure on the shoulders and back of the person carrying them.
On the other hand, women’s bags tend to be more fashion-conscientious and less practical. Nowadays, most women’s bags will hold a laptop, but functionality is not always the first concern.
The positive outcome of men starting to use handbags is that well-known companies are making them for both men and women and, while differences still exist, handbags have become a fashion statement for both. Men’s bags have retained their practicality while gaining looks. Women’s bags have retained their looks while regaining practicality. Both now come with separate compartments to be used for keys, personal items, laptops and so on. Even the best known makers, such as Christian Dior, will make bags for both men and women. There is even a whole new market available now – unisex bags. Everyone can wear them while being practical and fashionable at the same time. It seems that handbags have come a full circle to right where they started from.