I’ve always loved Balenciaga‘s motorcycle bags for men, but I always hear the same criticism of them from dudes, gay or straight, who are concerned about looking masculine – they look too much like the women’s bags to be distinctly male. And really, that’s fair – there have been times when I’ve questioned whether a particular shape belonged to the men’s or women’s collection, and with Balenciaga’s signature grommets, buckles and zippers on everything, it’s genuinely hard to tell what’s what.

It looks as though Balenciaga has heard those concerns loud and clear, at least if the Balenciaga Wide Leather Messenger is any indication. That’s why it’s the subject of this week’s Man Bag Monday – this bag keeps the Balencaiga feel but adds a healthy dose of masculinity for regular dudes who want a nice bag. (Or for fashionable ladies who want to treat their regular dude to something special.)

Naturally, you all recognize the dual Balenciaga grommets that sit at the edge of this messenger’s front flap. Without the familiar buckles and zippers underneath and at the corners, though, the grommets don’t scream “Balenciaga purse” as much as the brand’s other men’s designs. Instead, the small bit of branding lends a subtle Balenciaga touch to what is otherwise a fairly rugged-looking but still totally luxurious men’s day bag. As is usually the case with men’s bags, it’s also considerably lower-priced than a Balenciaga women’s bag of a similar size would be. Buy through Mr. Porter for $1395.

  • Eric

    This is the UGG boots of men’s bags.

  • Alexandra Davidoff

    Big shiny grommets DO NOT scream femininity! This bag is in dire need of some bling…and some attitude.  

    “there have been times when I’ve questioned whether a particular shape belonged to the men’s or women’s collection, and with Baleciaga’s signature grommets, buckles and zippers on everything, it’s genuinely hard to tell what’s what.” – statements like this seem unreasonable.  It is like saying men can’t wear jewellery when in reality there are many men out there who wear tastefully embellished things.  Maybe the Balenciaga city (especially the rainbow of colour) is not all that ‘masculine’, but the grommets, the buckles, the zippers, – in other words the entire Balenciaga aesthetic – can be worn by men proudly.  It is the rockstar look, and if you have the personality to pull it off you can flaunt it without shame regardless what societal cage of gender you belong to.      

    • http://dontaskmetosmile.wordpress.com/ dontaskmetosmile

      Amanda didn’t say that the Balenciaga aesthetic can’t “be worn by men proudly”. Balenciaga does appeal to some men, but in Amanda’s experience (and I think we can agree that she has some expertise in the matter), the brand’s embellishments don’t usually appeal to the average, non-fashion-forward, basic, suit-to-work, jeans-and-t-shirt kind of guy.

      And how can Amanda’s statement be unreasonable, when it’s from her experience? How is she being unreasonable in not being sure if a bag belonged to the men’s or women’s collection? How can she help not being sure about something?

      • Alexandra Davidoff

        Just
        because you think Amanda has “expertise in the matter” and
        I do know she must have some sort of expertise when she writes for
        this fabulous blog, that does not mean that some people will not
        always agree with her judgement.  I did not agree with her. But
        I did not attach her “expertise in the matter” and you
        don’t have to pick up the fashionista’s sword to defend her. The
        simple fact is that as you said, Balenciaga appeals to some and not
        to others be it for both men and women. Isn’t it simple enough to go
        to another accessories line if you are the “non-fashion-forward”
        (although if you are not fashion forward why would you go into a
        boutique that sells these bags, I do not know) type of person. But in
        my level of “expertise” in common sense I know that non
        fashion forward (or at least most of them) will not see the value in
        spending over a thousand dollars on a bag; there are many well made
        leather bags that are very classic and wearable for everyday outings
        without have to carry fancy names or fancier price tags. If you are
        not fashion forward why would you care to even carry a famous name in
        fashion?

        My
        point is that Balenciaga is trying to change itself and satisfy too
        many people, and in my opinion they are losing their cool factor. It
        is sad for me to hear lines like the one I quoted from Amanda.
         Having “expertise in the matter” in this matter is
        only the ability to ask men what they like and the answer you get may
        differ depending the group of men asked. It is impossible to say that
        you can predict what an entire population will think about an
        accessories line. Some will hate it, others will love it. And let’s
        face it, concerning yourself with looking masculine like Amanda
        states is like trying to shovel snow the hard way by lifting the
        shovel upwards and then getting a heart attack – it is perhaps trying
        too hard to impress, just like when a woman wears a plunging neckline
        that goes a little too far and onlookers are left with shock and
        horror. 

      • http://dontaskmetosmile.wordpress.com/ dontaskmetosmile

        Whoa. You took the discussion in a totally different direction.

        First of all, no, my intent was not to defend Amanda with a “fashionista’s sword”, whatever that is. My point was that, Amanda had a more “regular”, non-rock-star type of guy in mind when she was writing this post, and I daresay all other man bag posts. Yes, she generalized, but that’s the point, she’s writing about a bag MOST guys would prefer.

        Second, I think we have different interpretations of what “fashion forward” means. I suppose it’s my fault for using a term that is open to multiple interpretations. For you “non-fashion forward” seems to imply someone who will not even go to Balenciaga and/or spend a lot of money on clothes and a bag and care about “carrying a famous name in fashion”. I guess the term  I should have used would be “a man with more traditional/classic tastes”. Now, if I used those terms in my first comment, then I daresay the 2nd half of the first paragraph of your response is now unnecessary, correct? Because, surely, “a man with more traditional/classic tastes” could possibly still “see the value in spending over a thousand dollars on a bag”. I don’t think having classic tastes precludes you from having expensive tastes. I’m sure you’ll correct me if you think I’m wrong. ;)

        Finally, yes, of course, it is impossible to “predict what an entire population will think about an accessories line”. As hard as it seems for you to believe, I understand that. But the point is, as I already mentioned, I think these man-bag posts in particular feature bags that most men, the average man, would like, and not the male rock-star/fashion blogger/fashion editor would go crazy over.

      • Alexandra Davidoff

        dontaskmetosmile, yes you are right in saying that “a man with more traditional/classic tastes” would buy a thousands dollar bag, but unfortunately that is not what you said before and so we non psychic commenters cannot read what you MEANT to say. :) 

    • http://www.purseblog.com/ Amanda Mull

      For some reason you’ve taken this personally, and I’m not sure why. I’m also not sure why it’s inappropriate or offensive for Balenciaga to try and appeal to a larger male customer base. After all, few other brands have bags in their men’s and women’s lines that look as alike as most of Balenciaga’s do; it’s natural for the brand to try and branch out and grow its men’s accessories business, particularly when the fashion climate is as ripe for that expansion as it is now.

      Whether you like it or not, a lot of men are still sensitive to the idea that their bag might be called a purse. That doesn’t mean that I think it’s inappropriate for a man to carry a purse, or any woman’s bag – people of either gender should carry whatever they want. However, a lot of men are really not in to the look that you describe, and accessories designers are responding to the growing market of men who want to carry a bag (but not a purse) by releasing options like the one above. 

      Pointing out that market gap isn’t a critique of men who are comfortable with the Balenciaga bags that are already on the market. This isn’t some larger referendum on what makes a bag appropriate for dudes. 

      • Alexandra Davidoff

        Amanda, I just don’t agree with your statement that “…with Balenciaga’s signature grommets, buckles and zippers on everything, it’s genuinely hard to tell what’s what” in relation to being unsure if a bag is ‘male’ or ‘female’.  It is a simple fact that there are people with different tastes than me, the person sitting next to me, you, and any other commenter here.  But it is unfair to say that it is hard to tell if a bag is masculine just because it has some hardware, as you post: “they look too much like the women’s bags to be distinctly male.”  That is not pointing out a market gap, that is only being unfair.  Most of my comments are social commentary, and none of it is meant to offend anyone, especially not in a personal manner.  I do agree with your statement that either gender should carry whatever they want, and that was the theme of my original post.  I hate stereotyping gender cages and that is why I wanted to share my thoughts.  With androgynous male model Andrej Pejic out modelling on the female runway I thought the “fashion climate” was ripe for the expansion of a different point of view.  

      • http://www.purseblog.com/ Amanda Mull

        The issue, though, is not with what looks objectively masculine or feminine. The issue is with what a customer perceives, and when it comes to Balenciaga, the designs of the men’s and women’s motorcyle bags are often so similar that for men who don’t wish to be mistaken as carrying a purse, those bags probably aren’t attractive. That’s the market gap. Balenciaga has spent a decade branding those studs and buckles as an iconic women’s purse design, and although that might not bother some men, it definitely bothers others, maybe even some who would otherwise like to buy a bag from the brand. This design seems like a clear bid to win that sector of the business, which is not some kind of referendum on gender roles or modern masculinity. It’s just good capitalism.

      • Alexandra Davidoff

        If the issue has nothing to do “with what looks objectively masculine or feminine”, you shouldn’t have written the post in that fashion.

  • 19yearslater

    I would like one and I’m a woman. I do find the lower price point quite appealing.

    • Gixxer

      I think the Balenciaga men’s range is much more my taste as well. I bought the Day Leather Messenger Bag, and it is my first (and probably only, due to the excessive and redundant detailing on other models) Balenciaga bag.  I love it.

      Not everyone wants to get away with having “Baleciaga’s signature grommets, buckles and zippers on everything” and every corner of the bag! Its not a question of whether men can or cannot get away with it Alexander Davidoff, its whether men (and women) want to! Some people have enough bling with other accessories (or outfit, or personality), and don’t want to rely on a bag to speak – or have ‘attitude’ - on their behalf.

      Since the Day Leather Messenger Bag is almost out of stock (only one left) I don’t think either 19yearslater or I are alone in wanting a less cluttered look!

      • Alexandra Davidoff

        I
        did not say that every one could wear Balenciaga’s signature
        embellishment, or that every one should wear it.

        You
        didn’t reply directly to my comment so did you have to vent out your
        frustration on another comment? By the way youmisspelt my name (its
        AlexandRA not AlexandER.), and did not even understand the point of
        my comment. I really don’t care if “not everyone wants to get
        away with having ‘Balenciaga’s signature grommets, buckles and
        zippers on everything’ and every corner of the bag”, I didn’t
        even say everyone should try. My point is that if you have the
        personality to pull it off and the desire to then you should be proud
        and not ashamed and not called less masculine. It is rather obvious
        that YOU do not have the personality to pull it off. That is
        obviously why there is a plethora of accessories brands and different
        points of view out there, everyone is different.

      • Gixxer

        Um, calm down AlexandRA. I don’t know how I “don’t have the personality to pull it off” came out in my post, but by all means go there. You are hilARious.

        Really, it’s a bag. I don’t think I was venting my frustration on 19yearslater; merely referencing another post, yours AlexandRA, in the context of my support of the post I was replying to. Since I found some synergy between your post and 19yearslater’s post, I optioned the positive road and replied to her post, not yours. Never mind, I went there.

        However I do love your metaphors, if comparing a simplified design aesthetic to a cardiac arrest is the starter, clearly the rest of us have got a lot to catch up on.

      • Alexandra Davidoff

        Gixxer, I’m glad you enjoyed my metaphors.  I enjoyed reading your inability to actually understand them. 

        I was not comparing a simplified design aesthetic to cardiac arrest.  I had said that concerning oneself with how to look masculine is like doing something more to show off.  Both genders do it constantly, and fashion aside I hope that some day we will grow up and not always put a tag of what’s manly and what’s not on things, and by ‘things’ I am not only talking about fashion.  You posting that you like the men’s Balenciaga line better than the women’s is an example of how outdated the gender war is and how much better most of us will feel if we forgot about our gender and just did things that made us feel good.  I wear men’s shoes and find them much more comfortable than the over-designed women’s lines, so in many respects I agree with your sentiment.  At the same time my personal opinion is that the other more embellished Balenciagas should not always be considered feminine if they are not in bright, obnoxious colours.  

  • http://dontaskmetosmile.wordpress.com/ dontaskmetosmile

    Are attacks on other commenter’s personality/intelligence really necessary? I’m thinking, no. There are various ways to argue your point without resorting to such low blows. 

  • FashionableLena

    Finally.  A bag that looks like something that my husband would wear.  It’s simple, streamlined, and classic.  The brown leather will just look better with age.  The problem that I usually have with the Man Bag Mondays is that most of the bags look a little too feminine.  Or, should I say nothing that my regular man would carry.  Let’s face it, this is the kind of bag that most men want.