Emerging Trends, Student Life

Tote bags: Tote-ally cute or tote-ally cringe?

From my daily commute, to literature classes, to my close friend group—everywhere I go, tote bags follow me. I have always dismissed this as an aesthetic trend, making fun of my friends carrying a tote to campus compared to the practical, and may I say classy, backpack. However, I recently bought one as a birthday gift for a friend and, as hypocritical as I feel in admitting this, am now considering buying one for my own daily use. Why this change in opinion, one may ask? Simply, because I have been convinced that, in some cases, they may be even more practical and convenient than the age-old backpack itself. There, I said it. Phew. 

The tote bag market has seen a boom because of the multi-faceted nature of this versatile bag. Going grocery shopping? In go your (expensive) fruits, vegetables, bread, milk, and that extra thing you don’t really need but bought anyways. Headed to the gym? You’ll only need one bag for your towels, water bottles, shoes, and headphones. Heck, you can even take it to work or university, with all your books and chargers thrown in with your laptop—as long as that expensive MacBook you bought last semester is covered for accidental damage.

As Mira Cantor, U3 Arts, explained, the tote bag is helpful in more than one way.

“I prefer to carry a tote bag because it gives me something to do with my hands. I can grab the handles while walking, which is something I’m unable to get with a backpack,” Cantor told The McGill Tribune

Aarthy Thiruthanikan, U3 Arts, further highlighted the versatility of a tote. 

“It allows me to focus on the essentials, easier on my shoulder[s], and it’s stylish,” Thiruthanikan said. 

There are many factors that go into deciding what your perfect tote bag would be . However, the aesthetics of its design and the quality of the material often take precedence. So, when you head over to buy your first tote bag, make sure the art on it speaks to your soul and that it’s built strong enough to last through those heavy grocery runs and your two-kilogram laptop. 

“[The key to a successful tote bag purchase is] getting one with long enough handles that don’t slip off your shoulders and having one with a unique design,”  Cantor said. 

So, where did this trend emerge from? The Tribune tried to get to the bottom of this new and popular fashion statement, only to find out that it largely arose out of peer pressure.

“I saw all my roommates get one to go grocery shopping and I thought, ‘why do I not have one?’ and that’s the story of why I bought my first tote,” Cantor admitted. 

Thiruthanikan was also driven to this trend by a thoughtful friend.

“When I got my first tote bag as a gift, I decided to see if I would actually use it in my everyday life. I found it to be extremely practical and decided that I wanted many more in different designs,” Thiruthanikan said.

Now, you may be wondering—after this wonderful, albeit unpaid, promo of tote bags—where can you get one? Thiruthanikan recommends Society6 or Amazon and Cantor swears by Citizen Vintage. However, both of them also claimed that most of the tote bags they currently own are gifts from friends—so, perhaps the best way to obtain some totes is to invest in generous friends whose love language is gift-giving. 

Or, for those of you who are lucky enough to have been blessed with the art of graphic design (yes, I’m envious), you could also consider options that allow you to customize your own totes, such as Custom Ink, Vista Print, and Zazzle.

Whichever option you choose, this purchase is guaranteed to be a life-changing experience for those who have shunned this trend until now. While backpacks and crossbodies will always have a special place in my heart, the versatility of the tote will make it tote-ally worth it, I promise. 

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