Tote Bags

There was an article in the New York Times titled, A Message on Every Arm, published Dec. 9th. This article is about totes bags becoming the new “it” bags.  Totes are practical and cute for running errands around town. I personally hate the plastic bags handed out at CVS, etc so I love the idea of carrying a cloth tote.

Some people who are privileged enough to attend fun fashion and art shows can acquire fancy sought after free totes that are handed out on a limited basis. But this is not your only tote option. If you would like a cute tote that supports a good cause check out the feed bags at The money from these bags helps bring food to Africa. Bloomingdales has a Feed tote with four Clairns products for $90.

Another option: the designer Dan O. Williams creates a new cloth carry all for the intellectual quarterly N + 1. This year’s version is available in blue, yellow, purple or black. If you are looking for a classic, casual tote you can shop at LL Bean. There are a lot of options with different colors and designs. If you would like a more quirky design, check out You can get a tote with Kermit, Hello Kitty, Snoopy, and other fun animal designs.

If you are willing to spend more money and want a nicer tote, check out Coach, Marc Jacobs, Kate Spade, Michael Kors, and Tory Burch.

Bottom line: Find a tote that fits your style or find a fun tote that changes up your daily look.

Here is the article:

December 9, 2011

A Message on Every Arm


BEFORE the Fendi baguette grew stale and Marc Jacobs Stam knockoffs were sold on Canal Street, a young woman in the city’s creative fields might have considered a luxury bag a necessary investment. These days, thanks to the ascent of the humble cloth tote, she can save her shoe budget and still look, well, smart.

“I often only carry a tote,” said Sadie Stein, the chic deputy editor of The Paris Review. But not any tote: “Either my PR, or the 100th anniversary of Barney Greengrass,” Ms. Stein said, referring first to The Paris Review and then to the charmingly fusty Upper West Side smoked-fish emporium.

Seemingly democratic and certainly affordable (if not free), the tote might be the ideal carryall for these post-luxury recessionary times. The tote’s status is stealth. It telegraphs not money but access, ethics, culture — encapsulating the idea psychologist Daniel Gilbert popularized that happiness grows more through experiences than purchases.

“I’ve never paid for one,” said Cheryl Huber, a nonprofit manager who was strolling along Fifth Avenue in Park Slope, Brooklyn, recently. Emblazoned with a detailed line drawing and the words “Lady Bug Transistor,” a friend’s band, her tote hit perfectly at the hem of her peacoat.

The independent curator Alison Gingeras wrote in an e-mail that she often forgoes “the ‘real’ purse for cloth totes.” Ms. Gingeras’s clients include Francois Pinault, the president of PPR, whose holdings include Gucci and Bottega Veneta. Her holdings include totes from the Hamster Wheel show that was organized by Franz West in Venice and another — “really distressed,” she said — from Nate Lowman’s show at Astrup Fearnley. “I have a total fetish for them and get upset when I lose one.”

In the signed-satchel realm, new is not necessarily better; indeed, some people wash before use for the crinkly, Rag and Bone anti-polished look. “I keep and treasure the one Alber Elbaz created as a giveaway for his 2010 Halloween party,” said the public relations entrepreneur Cary Leitzes, of Leitzes & Company (no, Mr. Elbaz is not a client).

Is this yet another sign of the 1970s revival? Then, the cloth Le Bag hit big, along with “message” T-shirts, and Channel 13 supporters and their ilk made use of nonprofit logoed totes. Now the resurgence of the environmental movement, coupled with the graphic design boom and lowered screen-printing costs, has helped make totes ubiquitous.

Anya Hindmarch, in 2007, designed the popular “I’m Not a Plastic Bag” canvas satchel, publicized on Oscar nominees with the help of Vanity Fair. Boutiques supporting young designers and sustainability, like Bird in Brooklyn, began giving away logo bags with purchases: the perfect size for the laptops we all have to lug hither and yon.

Lauren Bush’s FEED bags, made to support her foundation to bring food to Africa, definitively de-frumpified the notion of the charity or nonprofit tote, lifting the unbleached satchel off the arms of middle-aged people carrying fund-drive contribution giveaways onto the shoulders of the young and glamorous.

The designer Dan O. Williams creates a new cloth carryall for the intellectual quarterly N + 1 every year. This time the run is being upped to 250, from 200. The editors, five men and one woman, all carry them. Their film critic, A. S. Hamrah, however, gave his to his girlfriend. “Robert Mitchum would not carry a tote bag,” he explained.

Joe Del Vecchio, a tall fellow on the F train one recent evening who works at the art-investment advising firm Montage Finance, was unperturbed by any breaches a gape-mouthed Brooklyn Museum carryall might make in his masculinity. “My boss has a Judd Foundation one I’ve got my eye on,” he confessed.

Like “it” bags before them, totes have become useful for quickly deciphering social strata.

Spot a mysterious peach on a black background? Restaurant addict ID’ing himself as a fan of David Chang’s Momofuku noodle empire.

Knoll, Artek, Cappellini? A furniture design aficionado.

A lucky few in-the-know architect types will have gotten their hands on one of 20 unique totes from Heyday, a hot Los Angeles firm that works to create attractive affordable housing. The firm invented a machine incorporating bike wheels that sprayed paint over its name printed on 20 Muji totes hung on the wall at an event at the Architecture and Design Museum of Los Angeles. “You can’t just grab a Trader Joe’s bag anymore; everyone wants the cool one,” Kevin Wronske, a partner, said.

Art Basel Miami Beach insiders can be seen around town revealing their recent pilgrimage with a pair of bright red lips (200 were given out to the first purchasers of a book-length interview with the conceptual artist Hans-Peter Feldmann) or a hot-pink-and-black font celebrating the fair’s 10th anniversary.

Highbrow? Last Sunday, guests who made it through five hours of “The Adventures of Mao on the Long March,” Frederic Tuten’s avant-garde classic — read by a roster that included the actor Wallace Shawn and the writer Lydia Davis, in a standing-room-only crowd at the Jane Hotel in the West Village — not only came out intellectually enriched, but also got a free tote from the event that the producers, ForYourArt, printed with Roy Lichtenstein’s Mao portrait.

Politicos, if they weren’t able to avail themselves of the free screen-printing at Occupy Wall Street, wave the left’s intellectual radical publishing imprint-of-choice, Verso.

A fashion devotee shows her feathers with one of the limited-to-2,000 Yves Saint Laurent deep (useful for laundry) bags that housed the printed Manifesto magazine given away outside the runways. Or one scrawled with “Savage Beauty,” commemorating the Costume Institute’s Alexander McQueen show last spring, snapped up and sold out.

And although these anti-purses are constructed from organic cotton instead of crocodiles, they’re also not a bad way to read bank accounts. Moms who throw on their children’s private school tote from desirable bohemian halls like St. Ann’s in Brooklyn Heights, the Little Red Schoolhouse in the West Village, or Friends Seminary, where tuitions hover around $30,000, may as well be wearing a Birkin.

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