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The Man Bag Dilemma

24/06/2015 11:29 | Updated 23 June 2016

So, given that iPHONEs, Kindles, laptops et al are considered essential daily items along with wallets and keys - will man bags ever really be a thing? Or, are they, like David Beckham and sarongs - an unworkable idea that is guaranteed to make the average man on the street look like a bit of a tit?

Man bags are not a man thing

"Man bags are a woman thing. Designed by women and bought by women because they have run out of present ideas," my friend Roy says. "They are laughed at by 80% of men. The other 20% only don't laugh because they have been forced by their wife to use one themselves." Harsh? Fair? But Roy is a daily commuter from Cambridgeshire to London, in a prime position to observe men and their carrying needs and habits. But maybe he's overdosed on other people's bags. Perhaps another perspective might offer a kinder view...?

Under what circumstances am I carrying that much stuff?

"There is absolutely no justification for a man ever carrying a bag," My colleague Updesh e-mails, ranting from Japan. "That's why men have pockets in their clothes. I travel the world with a phone, passport and wallet all of which go in pockets. I don't even need a jacket."

Comments fly in from everywhere. "My rucksack fulfils all my carrying needs," one friend says defensively. One man admits to buying a leather satchel. "I was complimented on it too." Who by - a man? "No, a woman."

Sports bags and rucksacks are apparently acceptable because they have "a manly strap" plus they are a bag that "You can carry a laptop, a gun, a pair of football boots or a drill in. It will never have hair product in it."

But Chewbacca had one. So did Indiana Jones...

They can't be all bad. Is it in the name? Is 'man bag' sounding a bit too like 'guy liner'? "The name doesn't help," One friend grudgingly admitted. "When I hear bag, I hear purse. When I hear purse I think - women and shopping." He shudders.

OK, but in the age of dads sharing childcare, etc. men do need to carry stuff - so we need bags that are practical BUT still gives them the feeling that they are capable of turning up in the wilderness and building a city with their bare hands. What is the answer?

"Focus on function," says Jennifer Hamley, a designer from Bristol whose unisex bag won in the Stand Out and Look Great for Work category and the fan's favourite at http://www.instyle.com at the Independent Handbag Designer Awards in New York last week. Jen's satchel in soft leather is highly functional - and includes a Swiss army knife, a bottle opener, a laptop sleeve, phone charger, tote bag included for extra shopping - and has the all important manly strap.

"I think for a man bag to work they have to be worn with confidence," says Jen. "I think men often tend to carry a bag as they carry a bunch of flowers they have bought for their mum - awkwardly, as if they are about to either drop them or drag them on the floor. Buy one with the functionality you need, work out how it looks and feels best on you, and don't look back. Style it out, boys."