The messenger bag

One of the things I immediately noticed when I moved here was that there’s a kind of Bay Area casual dress code, particularly in the downtown/SoMa areas. It consists of sneakers, dark colored jeans or twills, a hooded sweatshirt (in colder weather, with a jacket on top), and a messenger bag. It took maybe a week before I found myself wearing the exact same thing. Why? Practicality. You need the sneakers because in the city people walk, bike or take public transportation rather than drive. Jeans are fashionable and have remarkably good windbreaking capabilities, keeping the wearer comfortable and stylish both morning and evening. Hoodies are warm but not bulky, and the hood can block the wind/rain/pigeon shit, eliminating the need for a hat and scarf. And of course, if you’re in transit without a car you need something to carry all your stuff, preferable something spacious and yet easily slung across your body for maximum theft deterrance and stability.

I recently came across this article from 1997 about the need for more stylish, masculine carrier bags. What caught my eye, apart from the fact that I have still not seen much in the way of stylish bags for men eight years later, is that the author uses the term “manpurse”. If I remember correctly this was originally coined in a Seinfeld episode. It’s not a very nice word, it’s deprecatory and there’s a strong implication that the bag is unmasculine. And then what do you call it when a woman carries one? It’s not really a purse, and “messenger bag” is long and unwieldy. I have a solution. According to Merriam-Webster, a “satchel” is a small bag, often with a shoulder strap, and has it as a small bag, often having a shoulder strap, used for carrying books or clothing. Perfect, right? Satchel is a solid, gender-neutral, inoffensive word that means exactly what we’re talking about. Help me spread it.

I’m currently perfecting my satchel-construction skills as part of my crafting efforts. Send me your ideas and requests and I’ll see if I can incorporate them into a redesign of the modern satchel.


3 responses to “The messenger bag

  1. I believe the first reference to the manpurse was not in Seinfeld, but in an episode of Family Ties when Alex has his first date after a break-up with his long-time girlfriend.

    I’m trying to find the episode on TV Tome, but work keeps rearing its ugly head.

  2. While you’re out creating things, check this out: This woman is making a zillion armed with just a pair of scissors and some skinnyass models. Dude. We can do that!

  3. Hmmmm, maybe you can do it. It’s the opposite of what I’d do, I’m all about carefully constructed clean lines and simple shapes. But if you like it, go for it.

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