What Your Canvas Tote Bag Says about You

Are you carrying a Soulcycle tote or one you got through your New Yorker subscription?

By: Emily Ramshaw
Photography: Paige Campbell Linden

With the totally unbranded fishnet market bag being the most carried bag of New York Fashion Week (you can pick yours up for all of $18 here if you feel so inclined), it’s safe to say we’ve entered an It-bag-free trend zone. Sure, the Célines and Guccis aren’t going anywhere, but there’s a certain subtlety that’s come into vogue when it comes to our most statement-prone wardrobe choice. That said, we’re shleppers by nature (aren’t you?) and we carry about five times too much stuff at all times, so while our purses might be trendy, bags are required to actually carry all our shit as well. And for those practical purposes, we’ve always turned to the canvas tote, the undercover workhorse of our wardrobes—after we’ve put our credit cards and iPhones into our miniature Simon Miller Bonsais, of course.

Thing is, with its emblazoned logos and quotes and drawings, and with the advent of swag and merch, the totes that somehow accumulate without purpose in our cupboards actually say a hell of a lot about the carrier. Many you can’t even buy and only get with, say, a subscription to The Paris Review of Books. Why, canvas totes are a status symbol within themselves. So, what does your favorite tote say about you? Find out below...

 

The Feminists

The tote: Boys Beware tote

Who is she: A card-carrying member of The Wing.

Filled with: A pair of flats; an excess of declarative pins to give to whoever she meets; an agenda bursting with meetings.

Purse partner: The J.W.Anderson Knot bag—the pink shade goes with her aesthetic.

 

The Intellectuals

The tote: The New York Public Library tote

Who is she: A born-and-bred New Yorker who keeps a Film Forum program on their refrigerator and maintains a membership at the Public Theater.

Filled with: Ancient ticket stubs; a volume of Proust “to read on the subway”; wire-framed glasses that may or may not be legitimate.

Purse partner: A Nico Giani Adenia bag—sober, serious, and just the right size for a notebook and a pen.

 

The Hipster Hippies

The tote: Sky Ting tote

Who is she: She practices yoga because of “how it makes me feel.”

Filled with: Leggings (high-waisted); pastel-colored headphones; an Outdoor Voices loyalty card.

Purse partner: An Abacá Malinao backpack with a yoga mat sticking out the top.

 

The Working Millennials

The tote: Beyoncé Conversational Tote

Who is she: Anyone who watched Lemonade and will forever worship at the shrine of Queen Bey (all of us?).

Filled with: A clutch to carry when going out after work; a laptop and charger; Sriracha (actually).

Purse partner: Mansur Gavriel Mini Mini bucket bag, full of random receipts and lip gloss.

 

The Weekenders

The tote: Katama Surf Lodge tote

Who is she: Her weekend plans are made for the next six months.

Filled with: A small makeup bag containing the essentials (toothpaste, Aquaphor); a bikini; a Jitney schedule.

Purse partner: A very sandy Poolside straw tote.

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