How To Dress Well is a series by The Daily Telegraph. Calling on a panel of experts and writers, it aims to give useful, no-nonsense solutions on what to wear to look good - whether for work, weekend, special occasion or down the pub. Here, Luke Mintz, 23, asks owner of East London fashion mecca, Goodhood, for a lesson in mastering the modern man bag.
It’s 2018, and women are no longer the only ones forced to carry a megaton bag wherever they go. Professional women might have eyed their male colleagues with envy in decades gone by, as they trotted off to work empty-handed. But in the modern world, any man with an office job is expected to bring with him a terrifyingly high pile of laptops, cables, and amorphous phone chargers. Crucial to this task is a man bag. My personal choice? The humble rucksack. Look around any rush hour train carriage and you’ll see scores of men armed with the same classic design (two straps, two shoulders, much convenience).
For three years, I have carried around my trusty Vans Off The Wall rucksack, which now costs around £30. It was a gift from my mum in fact, and probably the single item from which I get the most use, carrying it around with me virtually everywhere I go. But now I've learnt that traditional rucksacks are hopelessly out of fashion and have been replaced with much-funkier 'satchels'.
These bags hang over one shoulder and drape diagonally across your torso. Kyle Stewart, owner of East London clothing shop, Goodhood, says the company has seen a “run” on them over the last year, which swooped into fashion after they were featured prominently at Milan Fashion Week.
The bags are practical, he says, allowing professional men to access their phone or car keys without awkwardly having to swing their bag from their back. They also look better: if you want to stand out in your drab office setting, he says, a bright, vibrant man bag could be your answer. He says they first emerged in the Grime music scene, with artists like Skepta sporting them to every gig, before they were (predictably) snapped up in droves by middle-class millennials.
He fits me up with a bright number he describes as “utilitarian orange” (I’m still not entirely sure how a colour can have utility, but that’s probably the sort of philistine thinking that landed me in need of a makeover in the first place). He also suggests that you can get the same look with a bum bag, that you wear across your body (not round your waist).
Zip-up belt bag, £39, Cosstores.com
Determined to spice up my work clothes, he also gives me a striped top, baggy green trousers and a thin white jacket.
T-shirt, Norse Projects, £100, goodhoodstore.com
My first thought: how practical is this really? I was promised utility, but the bag is so small it could barely carry my laptop, let alone the assortment of novels, crumpled magazines, and six-month-old birthday cards I have acquired over the years. Kyle also said the bag would help me stand out in the office: this is certainly true, but I’m not sure it’s something I long for, necessarily. With a bright, almost-fluorescent quality, the bag reminds me of something a schoolchild might wear to prevent cars hitting them as they walk to school. I worry my colleagues would think they were in the middle of a fire drill every time I walk into the office.While Kyle opened my eyes to man bags of all shapes, sizes and (importantly) colours, for now, I think I'll stick to my trusty rucksack. It may not be popular with grime artists, but the classic design has worked for centuries.