By: Natasha Bougourd on behalf of Cath Kidston
Bags are a style staple. Whether you opt for a crossbody bag or an oversized tote, we rarely leave the house without one.
The most popular bags change with the times but also with our needs. If we compare our bag trends today to those of the early 2000s, we can see a huge shift. Gone are tiny pochette bags, and in their place are bigger, bolder items.
Here, we’ll explore how bag trends have evolved over the past decade, using Google Trends data to examine interest levels.
Crossbody bags see biggest increase in interest
Crossbody bags are one of the most functional and versatile items around. Available in a range of styles, from small crossbody clutches to larger tote styles, structured to slouchy, there’s a crossbody bag for everyone.
It’s clear that we’ve recognised the versatility of this style, with interest soaring over the past decade. It scored only 2 out of 100 on the interest scale in 2011, rising consistently over the decade to reach a peak interest of 79/100 in 2021. This makes it the bag style with the highest search interest this year.
We’ve seen this style rise as plastic bag charges were implemented in 2015 and then doubled in 2021. Many large crossbody tote or messenger bags are also roomy enough to fit a laptop in, so this could explain the recent explosion in popularity as businesses have adopted hybrid working. But these bags aren’t just limited to our workwear; suitable for everything from a night out on the town to an autumnal walk through the woods, crossbody bags are an essential for every wardrobe.
Handbags and duffel bags are our classic mainstays
Although we see styles rise in and out of popularity, there are some that truly stand the test of time. The handbag and the duffel bags are arguably two such styles. Like crossbody bags, handbags can range from small to large and can be styled to suit any occasion or outfit.
The duffel bag took the crown as the style with the highest search interest from 2014 to 2018, but interest has begun to drop since then, replaced by searches for crossbody and bucket bags. The humble duffel has long been used as a kit bag and a holiday holdall, but are we seeing this slowly be phased out as our everyday bags get bigger and roomier?
When it comes to our trusty handbags, we’ve always turned to them as our bag of choice over the past 10 years – let’s be honest, with so many styles to choose from, they’ll never go out of fashion. This year, we’re seeing handbags get bigger and better, with bold prints and chunky metal detailing.
Tote, shoulder, and bucket bags rise as clutches fall
It’s clear that we’ve shifted to blend practicality with style in recent years, with interest in tote bags increasing from an interest level of 17/100 in 2011 to 64/100, its highest peak yet. Totes represent our interest in roomy bags that can hold everything from our makeup bag to our work laptop and even a change of shoes. Cotton totes are also the perfect sustainable replacement for plastic shopping bags.
Bucket bags, the tote’s slouchy cousin, have also seen a similar increase in interest, peaking at 77/100 in 2019 and holding steady at an interest level of 75 in 2021. Bucket bags are the perfect laidback style – big enough to hold our essentials for a day out and relaxed enough to be comfortable on our arms all day long.
We’ve seen interest in these bags increase as searches for traditionally smaller bags goes down. Interest in clutch bags more than halved in 2020 to 29/100, which is understandable as we were unable to go to places and events that called for a glam clutch. But even in 2021, as restrictions have eased, its interest is still lower than in previous years. Perhaps the pandemic has led to us favouring multipurpose bags that we can use for parties and everyday activities?
The types of bags we use can change over the years. Not only do they evolve in line with fashion trends, but also with our requirements. One thing is for sure – no matter which style we choose, bags will never go out of fashion.