Let’s Sing A Little Song Of Praise For The Hardworking Canvas Tote

My tote habit is starting to spiral out of control - I've got them crammed in my wardrobe, hanging off the backs of doors and coat hooks and piling up all over the place.
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Publish date:
March 27, 2013
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Tags:
shoppables, fashion, canvas totes, shopper

If there’s one thing I own more of than Breton tops, it’s canvas totes. Shoppers, bags, call them what you will, you know exactly what I’m talking about don’t you? A sturdy cotton square with two straps, long enough to hook over your shoulder.

This ‘supplementary’ bag helpfully holds spare shoes, books, tins of beans, make-up and magazines when the dinky little clutch you’re carrying barely fits a phone and a lipstick. It's tough enough to stand being kicked around, plonked on pavements and the grubby floors of tubes and buses, dutifully doing its bit to assist in your everyday errands.

My tote habit is starting to spiral out of control - I've got them crammed in my wardrobe, hanging off the backs of doors and coat hooks and piling up all over the place. Here are just a few from my collection.

Every London Fashion Week, Mulberry designs a special canvas shopper which you are given when you register at the BFC’s press desk. Each season the design is different - they're often whimsical illustrations of rabbits or monsters, or a trompe l'œil depiction of a classic Mulberry bag like the Alexa. I’ve been going to the shows for ten years now so I’ve amassed a fine collection of these lovely totes (and my mum has a few now too!)

Let me tell you how good this bag is: I was carrying a can of paint home and the bus driver wouldn’t let me on the bus with it because apparently I look like the sort of hoodlum who gets my kicks from hurling white emulsion around the interiors of buses. He zoomed away, leaving me steaming at the bus stop, so I emptied the contents of my trusty tote onto the pavement, put the paint inside, and got on the next bus. Yeah, REBEL! And the bag held – it’s so strong.

Canvas bags are like badges – you can express your love for a particular band, book or movement without uttering a single word. I love checking out cool-looking girls and boys when I'm out and about to see what statement they’re making about themselves via the slogans and images that are swinging from their shoulders (there are lots of Daunt Books bags around at the moment – support your local bookshop!)

This kind of utilitarian fashion item appeals to me because it’s so practical and yet can be incredibly creative – just like the slogan tee. I suppose they’re the antithesis to a showy stiletto or minaudière (those hilariously useless, microscopic clutch bags), which exist purely to give visual pleasure.

Do you have a collection that’s as out of control as mine?