Handmade in Devon
Each bag is carefully made by hand in the Tanner Bates workshop by skilled leather craftsmen. Our patterns are selectively positioned on the hides and the leather is cut by hand using specialist semi-circular knives.
Tanner Bates bag are made to last.
Love Your Leather
Our leather is tough and can take a battering. We stitch it with a durable rot resistant thread which will give years of service. Occasionally a dose of Tanner Bates Liquid wax will make it look good as new.
Naturally tanned leather benefits from and will look its very best if given an occasional dose of natural waxes and oils. Our Leather care information card is included with every purchase.
The History and Evolution of the Leather Tote Bag
The tale of the Leather Tote Bag
is an intriguing one, steeped in history, culture, and innovation. From a practical utility bag to a fashion statement, the leather tote bag has undergone a fascinating metamorphosis over the centuries. In this article, we delve into the captivating journey of this iconic accessory, tracing its roots from its humble beginnings to its contemporary glory.
Understanding the Leather Tote Bag
In essence, a tote bag is the purest form of all bag designs. Stitching a single panel of fabric on two sides forms the rudimentary structure of a tote. The bag is then completed by affixing looped handles on either side of the aperture. This basic blueprint can be enhanced through the addition of base and side panels, as well as interior and exterior pockets.
The magic of the tote bag lies in its simplicity. With its large opening, it can be packed and unpacked swiftly, making it a versatile accessory for a myriad of uses. This characteristic has led to the tote bag being used for shopping, hitting the gym, as a work or school bag, as a laptop carrier, or even as an overnight bag.
In its purest form, a tote is made from cotton, plastic, or nylon, allowing it to be folded and kept in a pocket when not in use. More robust totes, however, are crafted from canvas or leather, giving them a rigid structure and enabling them to retain their shape. The allure of the leather tote bag is its pairing of utility with elegance.
Origin of the Tote Bag: The Etymological Roots
The term 'tote' is of American origin, with its earliest appearance dating back to 1676. Its precise origins are somewhat obscure, but it is likely that it derived from West Africa, possibly a variant of 'tota' - to pick up - in Kikongo or 'tuta' - to carry in Swahili. It is believed that the term was brought to the American South by slaves.
Initially used as a verb to denote 'to carry as a burden or load', the term 'tote' did not gain popularity as a noun to describe a bag until the mid-twentieth century. Its transformation from a verb to a noun marked a significant milestone in the evolution of the tote bag.
From Utility to Ubiquity: The Rise of the Tote Bag
In 1944, American brand LL Bean presented a large, box-shaped bag planned for moving ice from the car to the freezer. The bag's strength and versatility made it instantly popular. Recognising the potential, LL Bean added a splash of colour to the design and expanded its range.
However, in the 1960s, American designer Bonnie Cashin made a leather tote bag in an array of colours. This marked the entry of the tote bag into the world of fashion, and since then, tote designs have proliferated.
The tote bag's two flat sides effectively make it a portable billboard, and its use as a promotional tool has now become ubiquitous, further boosting its popularity.
The Most Expensive Tote Bag
At the other end of the scale is the Birkin Bag by Hermes, a tote bag that holds the record for being the most expensive Tote bag in the world. The Birkin Bag, inspired by actress Jane Birkin spilling the contents of her straw tote over a Hermes executive, has a six-month waiting list. One Birkin Bag sold at auction in Hong Kong fetched a staggering $377,261.
Art Tote Bag: A Ubiquitous Accessory
The tote bag has been described as 'The Art World's most ubiquitous accessory'. Numerous museums and exhibitions around the world commission their own specially designed tote bags. Owning one of these bags becomes a statement of self-promotion, showcasing your intellectual credentials, cultural awareness, and affluence.
Jute Tote Bag: An Eco-friendly Alternative
While the leather tote bag is a symbol of luxury and timelessness, the jute tote bag represents sustainability and eco-friendliness. Jute, a vegetable fibre used to make traditional burlap or hessian sacking, is now commonly used to make tote bags. Jute totes have become increasingly popular since the ban on plastic bags due to being cheap, robust, and biodegradable.
Tote Bag vs. Other Bags
When it comes to selecting a bag, several factors come into play, such as comfort, capacity, security, and convenience. A tote bag is casual, easy to access and keep close, making it an ideal choice for quick errands or a casual day out. However, for carrying heavier loads, a backpack could be a more comfortable option, albeit less secure in crowded spaces.
For those who prefer hands-free convenience, a messenger bag or satchel might be a better choice. They usually come with secure fastenings, making them a safer way to carry valuables. However, if quick access is a priority, a tote bag would be the best bet.
The Tote Bag in the Modern World
The tote bag continues to evolve and adapt to the needs of the modern world. From IKEA's Frakta bag
, which revolutionised the concept of reusable shopping bags, to The New Yorker's promotional tote bags for subscribers, the tote bag has proven its versatility and enduring appeal.
Brands like Balenciaga, Givenchy, and Louis Vuitton have further elevated the status of the tote bag, transforming it from a functional accessory into a fashion statement. Despite its evolution, the tote bag remains true to its roots - its simple, practical design continues to be its most enduring feature.
The history of the leather tote bag is a testament to its versatility and timeless appeal. Its journey from a functional utility bag to a high-fashion accessory reflects the dynamic nature of fashion and consumer needs. As we move towards a more sustainable future, the tote bag, with its functionality and eco-friendliness, is set to continue its reign as the bag of choice for many.
Frequently asked questions about Tote Bags:
Why are tote bags popular now?
Tote bags have seen surges in popularity over the years for various reasons. Several factors contributed to the popularity of tote bags:
1. Eco-Friendliness: With growing concerns about the environment, many people are looking for reusable alternatives to single-use plastics. Tote bags, especially those made from canvas or other durable materials, are a more eco-friendly choice compared to plastic bags.
2. Versatility: Tote bags are versatile and can be used for a variety of purposes – from grocery shopping to carrying daily essentials. Their general, open design makes them adaptable to many uses.
3. Fashion Statement: Tote bags have become fashion-forward, with many designers and brands offering stylish and high-quality versions. They're seen not just as utility bags but as accessories that can complement one's outfit.
4. Customisability: Tote bags can be easily customised, making them a favourite for promotions, events, or as personalised gifts. Companies and organisations often use them as promotional items, adding their logos or slogans.
5. Affordability: Compared to other types of bags, tote bags are often more affordable, making them accessible to a wide range of people.
6. Minimalism: There's been a growing trend towards minimalism and simplicity in fashion and lifestyle. The straightforward design of tote bags aligns well with this trend.
7. Promotion of Sustainable Practices: Many stores and businesses promote the use of tote bags by offering discounts to customers who bring their own bags or by selling branded totes. This both encourages sustainable practices and serves as a form of advertisement.
8. Regulations and Bans on Single-Use Plastics: Some regions have instituted bans or taxes on single-use plastic bags, prompting consumers to switch to reusable options like totes.
9. Durability: High-quality tote bags can last a long time, making them a good investment compared to continually purchasing disposable bags.
Is a tote bag still trending?
Tote bags remain popular for many of the reasons previously mentioned. However, the trendiness of specific items, including tote bags, can vary with time, region, and shifts in cultural or societal priorities.
To determine if tote bags are still trending in 2023 or later, you might consider:
1. Checking Recent Fashion Shows: Fashion weeks in major cities like Paris, Milan, New York, and London can provide insight into current and upcoming trends.
2. Exploring Retail Sites: Online retailers and fashion-focused websites often highlight trending items, including bags. By browsing these sites,
you can gauge the current popularity of tote bags.
3. Fashion Magazines and Blogs: These sources can provide insights into what's currently in vogue. They often have features or articles on trending accessories.
4. Social Media Platforms: Platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, and TikTok have become major indicators of fashion trends. By searching or following certain hashtags or influencers, you can see if tote bags are being prominently featured.
5. Consumer Behaviour: Look at the practices of major stores. If they are promoting tote bags or if you see many people using them in daily life, that's a good indication of their continued popularity.
6. Regulatory Environment: Continued or new bans on single-use plastics in various regions can boost the popularity of reusable bags like totes.
Remember, even if tote bags might see fluctuations in "trendiness" in the fashion world, their practicality and eco-friendly nature may keep them in steady use by many people regardless of the latest trends.
Are tote bags classy?
The perception of "classiness" is subjective and can vary based on cultural, regional, and individual preferences. That said, tote bags have been embraced across a spectrum of styles, from utilitarian to high fashion. Here's how they might be viewed in terms of classiness:
Designer Tote Bags: Many luxury fashion houses and designers have their versions of tote bags, crafted from high-quality materials like leather, embellished with unique designs, and bearing their iconic logos. These are typically considered "classy" and are often status symbols.
Material Matters: A well-made leather tote bag or one made of other high-quality materials can look elegant and sophisticated. Conversely, a simple canvas tote might be seen as more casual but can still be stylish in its own right.
Utility vs. Fashion: While tote bags began primarily as utilitarian items, they have been adopted into the fashion world. A tote bag used for groceries or as a book bag might be seen differently than one used as a fashion accessory, even if they look similar.
Context is Key: Carrying a tote bag to a casual brunch or for shopping is one thing, but it might not be the best choice for a formal event or a business setting, depending on its design and material.
Custom and Personalised Totes: Some tote bags are customised with artwork, slogans, or brand logos. Whether these are "classy" can depend largely on the design and the context in which they're used
Sustainability as Classiness: As environmental concerns have become more mainstream, items that are sustainable or eco-friendly have gained a certain cachet. In some circles, using a reusable tote instead of a plastic bag might be seen as a "classy" move because it shows environmental responsibility.
In conclusion, whether a tote bag is considered "classy" can depend on its design, material, the context in which it's used, and individual perceptions. Like all fashion items, the beauty and appropriateness of a tote bag are in the eye of the beholder.
Are leather tote bags in style?
Leather tote bags have been a mainstay in the fashion world for many years due to their timeless appeal, durability, and versatility, leather tote bags remained in style, and here's why:
Timeless Elegance: Leather has an inherent sophistication and can elevate the look of an outfit. A well-made leather tote bag can be both practical and stylish.
Versatility: Leather tote bags can transition seamlessly from a day at work to a night out, making them a popular choice for those who want a versatile accessory.
Durability: Leather is known for its durability, and many people see leather bags as an investment that will last for years, if not decades, with proper care.
Designer Appeal: Many luxury fashion houses offer leather tote bags as a part of their collection. Their continued inclusion in designer collections suggests their enduring appeal.
Variety: Leather tote bags come in various colours, finishes, and designs, catering to a wide range of preferences.
What to look for when buying a tote bag?
When buying a tote bag, several factors come into play, depending on the intended use, personal style preferences, and budget. Here's a guide to help you make an informed choice:
· Durability: Some materials, like leather or thick canvas, tend to be more durable and can handle heavier loads.
· Maintenance: Materials like leather might require more care (e.g., conditioning) but can be long-lasting. In contrast, canvas might be machine washable, making it easier to clean.
Size & Capacity:
· Determine the main purpose of the tote. Do you need it for everyday essentials, groceries, work files, or as a travel bag? Make sure it's spacious enough for your needs but not so large that it becomes cumbersome.
Handles & Straps:
· Length: Ensure the handles are long enough to be comfortably carried in your preferred style (e.g., on the shoulder, by hand).
· Strength: The handles should be strong, especially if you plan to carry heavy items.
· Some tote bags are open at the top, while others might have a zipper, snap, or magnetic closure. Decide which you prefer in terms of security and ease of access.
Pockets & Compartments:
· If organisation is important to you, look for totes with internal or external pockets to separate items.
Stitching & Construction:
· Examine the quality of the stitching
, as strong, even stitches can indicate a well-made bag.
· Reinforced corners and handles are also a sign of durability.
Style & Design:
· Choose a design that resonates with your personal style and complements your wardrobe.
· Consider if you want a classic design that will remain in style for years or something trendier.
Price & Brand:
· Decide on a budget before shopping.
· While brand names can be a sign of quality, they often come with a higher price tag. There are many quality totes available from lesser-known brands as well.
Maintenance & Care:
· Check care instructions, especially if you're considering a material that might require special care.
· If you want a multipurpose bag, ensure the tote's design is versatile enough to fit different occasions and purposes.
Reviews & Recommendations:
· Before making a purchase, especially online, check product reviews or ask for recommendations from friends or family.
· If this is a concern, research the brand's practices regarding labour, sourcing, and production.
Ultimately, the best tote bag for you is one that meets your needs, aligns with your values, fits your budget, and makes you happy.
How do I choose a leather tote bag?
Choosing a leather tote bag requires special considerations, given the nature of leather as a material and the higher investment often associated with genuine leather products. Here's a detailed guide to help you select the right leather tote bag for you:
Type of Leather:
Full Grain: Considered the highest quality, this leather comes from the top layer of the hide and includes all the grain, providing durability and a unique natural look that ages well.
Top Grain: This is the second-highest quality, where the leather has been sanded to remove imperfections. It's smoother but less durable than full grain.
Genuine Leather: This is made from the leftover parts of the hide after the top layers are removed. It's less durable and can often be coated with a layer of top-grain leather.
Bonded Leather: The lowest quality, made from leftover scraps that are bonded together. It's less durable and doesn't age as well as other types.
Vegan Leather: Not genuine leather, but made to look and feel like it. It's a good option if you're seeking an animal-friendly alternative. Although many vegan leathers are made from plastic/petroleum derivatives so may have environmental impacts worth considering.
Vegetable Tanned: Uses tannins from plants and trees. It's eco-friendly and results in a natural-looking, rigid leather that darkens over time.
Chrome Tanned: Uses chemicals, primarily chromium, and is faster and more common than vegetable tanning. It creates a softer leather with more colour options.
Size & Capacity:
· Determine your primary purpose for the tote. Ensure it's spacious enough for your essentials, be it for work, travel, or daily activities.
Handles & Straps:
· Consider the length and strength, especially if you plan to carry heavy items.
· Check the method by which the straps are attached is strong and durable.
Pockets & Compartments:
· Consider internal or external pockets for the organisation, especially if you plan to carry tech items or valuables.
Stitching & Craftsmanship:
· Examine the stitching for evenness and strength.
· Look for any inconsistencies in the leather or craftsmanship.
Colour & Style:
· Choose a colour that matches your wardrobe or consider a neutral colour for versatility.
· Think about whether you want a timeless design or something more contemporary.
Maintenance & Care:
Price & Brand:
· Determine your budget. Genuine leather totes can vary widely in price.
· While established brands can be a mark of quality, don't dismiss lesser-known brands that might offer excellent quality at a lower price.
Ethical & Environmental Considerations:
· If concerned, check the brand's sourcing practices and the environmental impact of their production processes.
Reviews & Recommendations:
· Look for reviews, especially regarding the bag's durability and how it ages over time.
Remember, one of the beautiful aspects of genuine leather
is that it often looks better with age, developing a unique patina. It's a personal and often long-term investment, so take your time in making a choice that you'll be happy with for years to come.