I WAS WALKING across East 72nd Street in Manhattan recently and began to count the number of people around me who were wearing a backpack. Within half a block I realized it was easier to count those who weren’t wearing one.
Backpacks make so much sense. And yet . . .
I don’t aspire to the “working journalist” look of a nylon lump slung across one shoulder. (I don’t wear Dockers either.)
The two older women I saw on the street looked forlorn with big pouches drooping down their backs. Even some otherwise-fashionable young women had their crisp look taken down a notch by the hump of molten nylon that dragged along behind them.
Throwing money at the situation may not help. Hermès and Chanel and Gucci make backpacks, but spending $3,000 or $6,000 or even $9,500 (here’s looking at you, Hermès!) won’t make me feel not stupid wearing something I still associate with kids and their lunchboxes. And not feeling stupid (or for that matter looking stupid) is a benchmark I like to nail.
I looked around and spotted some models that might make the leap from “useful” to, dare I say it, “chic,” or at least trendy. If I decide to take the plunge it’ll be on the inexpensive side . . . until I know somehow that I don’t look like an idiot.
RIGHT: Another cutie is Baggu’s Mini Backpack, which is small (10 x 12 inches) but can hold a 10½-inch iPad. If you’re an Apple kind of gal, you’ll like that it also has an interior pocket that can hold an iPhone Plus. It comes in Taro Nubuck (shown) and pebbly black leather, on sale for $140 at Baggu.
LEFT: This Mini Backpack by Boutonné comes in dark gray, ivory, luggage tan and black leather. Technically, the Mini is made for kids, and there’s a larger Mommy version, but I suspect that the Mini’s 8½ x 13 inches is big enough to be useful and tailored; $138 at Anthropologie. (Besides, the Mommy version, 15 x 15 inches and $248, is designed to be a diaper bag.)
RIGHT: There’s a lot going on with Tory Burch’s Jesse Flap Backpack—buckles, snake-embossed leather trim, velvet pocket flaps—perhaps too much for some, but it certainly signals that it’s not from REI! At 11 x 12 inches, it also has a top handle and is $658 at Shopbop.
ABOVE, LEFT AND RIGHT: Valentino Garavani certainly has had a hit with his Rockstud collection, from skyscraper heels to flats. Here it takes the form of the Mini Rockstud Backpack, about 7 x 8 inches and $1,945 at Farfetch.
ABOVE, LEFT AND RIGHT: Prada’s small Odette Saffiano leather backpack may look like a little tortoise strapped to your back, but its Prada cred cannot be denied. At only 7 x 6¾ inches, it’s $1,990 at Prada. (Okay, I’m not saying you have to buy it; it’s okay just to look.)
ABOVE, LEFT AND RIGHT: From Zac Posen, the name of the Eartha Iconic East West Convertible Backpack is a mouthful, but it really is convertible. Available in the color-block combo shown or in all black, it measures a ladylike 7 x 9.5 inches and is $395 at Shopbop.
LEFT: All the kids seem to want Gucci these days; goodness knows how they pay for the pricey brand. But if the linked Gs do it for you, too, here’s a splendid effort in red velvet (also available in dark blue) that will set you back $1,980 at Gucci. It measures about 12 x 13 inches.
RIGHT: The MZ Wallace Metro Backpack is a bit on the large side, 12 x 16 inches, but it stands out with the glossy black lacquer finish on its nylon body. It’s $255 at Bloomingdale’s.
LEFT: From Madewell comes the Canvas Somerset Backpack, in olive (shown; they call the color British Surplus), black or natural canvas color. It’s 12½ x 15 and $78 at Madewell.