We’re now deep in the throes of summer, when you have to weigh your desire to flex against your desire not to sweat buckets. With layering off the table, the best way to boost your style in these scorching months is by focusing on accessories, which we dove into on our latest episode of Itemized. In this space, we’re going to focus on a New York City staple: the tote bag.
Whether you’re a backpack or side bag devotee, the tote is an excellent summer alternative that’ll save you from awkward sweat spots. All you really need is something that can fit your lunch, a water bottle, your keys, and any other small essentials. Anything else will just weigh you down, literally. With its large canvas, the tote also gives you another platform similar to a T-shirt, allowing you to broadcast your interests to the world.
If you want to look educated, you can rep your favorite media brand. GQ ranked the best such totes, although we were conspicuously absent. Maybe someone missed out on our exclusive POWERS collab. In all seriousness, as much as we want to toot our own horn, you should look into expanding your streetwear tastes to include the beloved tote. Many of our favorite brands, from high-to-low, offer their own totes.
If something simple and branded is what you’re looking for, Stüssy has a standard canvas tote for just $36. You can’t go wrong repping one the of the OGs of our crazy world.
For more hype, consider picking up Supreme’s most recent tote for (a reasonable) resale price. It’s the perfect way to rock Supreme while displaying a semblance of taste.
Human Made’s collab with Girls Don’t Cry appeals to vintage heads and fans of classic workwear. Reinforced with rivets at the handles and bottom, it’s a versatile tote that makes a statement to the most discerning of fuccbois.
If you’re looking for something nicer, consider making an investment in a bag you’ll have for life. Kapital offers a seriously durable tote with thick canvas and reinforced leather straps. Rendered in a tasteful army green with brown leather, it’s got a cheeky accent with the brand’s signature smiley face tucked into a corner. Of course, $455 is a lot for a tote, but you won’t need to replace it any time soon.
Noah also has its own heavy duty tote in its WorkBoat Holdall. With webbed handles, snap closures, and six eternal pockets, it’s the perfect bag to pack for a day at the beach. The embroidered patch is also a great kicking off point for you to customize it by adding your own patches.
Nigo has been customizing his Goyard St. Louis totes for years, adding the BBC Ice Cream and Human Made logos to the luxurious bags. If you have the ability to ball out, you could do the same. The bag retails for a little under two racks, but online consignment sites like TheRealReal often have them for (a bit) less. It’s still mad guap, but if you can afford the flex—why not?
But you also don’t have to spend rent on a statement bag. To follow Nigo’s lead, you can pick up one of L.L. Bean’s classic Boat and Tote bags. They offer monogram options, so you can make the bootleg of your dreams (like say, using their academic typeface to create a faux Off-White™ logo). Or if you’re artistically inclined, cop some acrylic leather paint and have at it.
If you don’t trust your brush game, consider commissioning an artist to do it for you. What Nigo proves is there’s no bigger flex than taking an item and making it your own. If all else fails, tie-dying is much easier than you think, as you can see in our handy instructional video. Give any old tote bag a second life by tie-dying it, and you’ll have no problem recognizing which one belongs to you.
Dior’s oblique book tote is a true grail, although at $2,700, it’s not for the faint of heart (or bank account). Speaking of customization, Dior used to allow customers to customize its tote under its abcdior program, which Matthew Williams utilized to say “Baby X” for his daughter Alyx. Kim Jones even laced up his dog Cookie with one, giving Choupette a run for her money for most luxurious pets. While not currently available, it’s worth keeping your eye out for a return.
Whatever you choose, may the tote be with you this summer. No other accessory will be more handy.