Celebrities    Man Bags

Is Jacob Elordi the Ultimate Face of the Man-Bag?

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If you’ve been keeping track, it’s possible you noticed that I’ve only covered celebrity content sparingly (and I use the term loosely here). That’s for good reason. I’m neither a voracious consumer of televised content nor is my corner of internet eccentricities remotely appealing to most.

What I do tend to voraciously consume, however, is fashion. And that’s how I came across Jacob Elordi’s name, who, the internet tells me, starred in Netflix’s The Kissing Booth before his breakout role in Euphoria (unsurprisingly, I haven’t watched either).

Since his astonishing ascent to stardom (and his occasionally baffling barefoot strolls across LA), Elordi has continually been papped with a luxe purse in tow. They aren’t your everyday Goyard backpacks or Prada briefcases. They aren’t, much to my chagrin, super spacious (or, shall we say, ludicrously capacious) either. Rather, the actor’s carry of choice is an eclectic mix of the new and the vintage, from Celine and Chanel to Burberry and Bottega (with the occasional off-the-runway Louis Vuitton thrown in for good measure).

And that’s how Jacob Elordi became the king of boy-bag PR. The end. But is it really?

Men and Their Murses – a Retrospective

Come to think of it, the man-bag really isn’t entirely original.

In fact, way back from our days as hunter-gatherers, all throughout the Renaissance (when most items of clothing lacked pockets), it was customary for men to carry around little pouches of spices, herbs, and money. The concept was later adopted by the aristocracy into leather belt-like bags (possibly the world’s first fanny packs) called swete bagges that served the dual purpose of offsetting foul odor and proclaiming status to the masses.

Onwards of the 1900s came newer styles: the sturdy briefcase, perfect for a railway commute; the bread-bag – First World War-era military rucksacks, and the school satchel, whose screen time on Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) cemented its cult-popularity. And yet, centuries of progress came to a screeching halt in the 90s, when minimalism relegated the handbag to the arms of women almost exclusively.

Consequently, although the Y2K gave way to a more metrosexual aesthetic, the man-bag continued to be reduced to a derogatory term – Joey from Friends comes to mind – and not even the most ardent of advocates, like Jason Weir, EJ Johnson, David Beckham and Justin Theroux, could revive the reign of the man-bag.

image via Diesel
Diesel‘s FW23 campaign features Estonian rapper Tommy Cash with the 1DR bag

Even in the most recent years, aside from a few boundary-pushing creative leads at Emporio Armani, Dior, Diesel, and Louis Vuitton, men’s bags have, for the most part, adhered to their most conservative on the runway, despite tailoring having shifted for the better. We’ve seen progress, yes, but a slow one at that.

And then, a wild Jacob Elordi appears.

Jacob on the Jaunt

What, in your opinion, makes the perfect model? Conventional standards of attractiveness? Attitude? In an industry that thrives on the strength of your network to the best brands and photographers, connections? Or maybe a universal girl (or guy) next-door appeal?

Choose carefully. After all, at least as far as the runway is concerned, the clothes’ personality – and not the model – must shine through! And perhaps that’s where Euphoria’s Nate Jacobs – or real life’s Jacob Elordi – comes in. In fact, the on-screen Jacobs’ machismo couldn’t have been more different from the Elordi in real life, which has intrigued fans.

Jacob Elordi Big Bag
Aside from his mini-bags, Elordi also carries spacious styles, like this Celine tote

For a coffee run across the city, he prefers to pair shorts with Matthieu Blazy’s hot new Andiamo bag. For promotions of his latest film, Priscilla, he slung a casual-cool vintage Chanel that had Twitter asking, “Why doesn’t every man carry around a little Chanel bag?” His arsenal expands further to include maxi Celine totes and diminutive Valentinos that appear nearly comical against his gargantuan frame.

The message, however, is clear. By nonchalantly accessorizing a readily recognizable purse with the most casual outfits possible – as opposed to his highly curated Instagram counterparts – Elordi is doing high-low dressing at its best.

JACOB ELORDI WEARS BOTTEGA VENETA
Jacob Elordi with the Bottega Veneta Andiamo

And perhaps that’s why, from today’s dozens of male celebrities and influencers, he has given rise to a new era of the it-boy.

The Era of the It-Boy

Eventually, this begs the question – what makes a person “it”? We’ve lived through an entire era of it-girls, all of whom seem to possess that indescribable je ne sais quoi that makes you want to follow her around (but not in a creepy way).

Elordi’s appeal, in this regard, is somewhat universal – the conventional looks, the traditionally “masculine” way of dressing, it’s all there. But pairing them with unexpected handbags – bags that, might I add, may not have been met with the same degree of aesthetic tolerance had somebody else carried them – makes us all sit up and notice.

Jacob Elordi Louis Vuitton Speedy New York
Jacob Elordi with Louis Vuitton’s Latest

And it's perhaps the naturalness of his choices – as opposed to some artificially engineered editorial – that brings an element of self-styled magic into the equation. We’re led to believe if we, too, could possess that Bottega Cassette or that Fendi Baguette, we would be able to emulate the effortlessness of his look. It’s what has made the it-bag industry thrive before, and it’ll probably continue to do so in the foreseeable future.

Until then, we must revel in men’s fashion’s newfound androgyny. The man-bag, designated until now as an instrument of pure utility, deserves to be just as much of an accessory of indulgence and ostentation as the female handbag. And I, as the purse-lover I am, can’t help but rejoice. Finally, we no longer have stuff in our pockets with the weight of our worldly belongings – “attenzione, pickpocket!”

And the best part about them? As Dazed says, “you just know that Nate Jacobs would disapprove!”

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Tâm
Tâm
9 months ago

First off, great article, well thought out and well written.
However, it bothers me that a “Hetero Man” is praised for carry a handbag whereas when Gay men have been doing it ever since. Unless you’re part of the fashion/LGBTQ/entertainment industry, it is applaused and appreciated.
In mainstream society, it’s still considered not the norm and critiqued.
It’s fine to highlight men using bags but I think give credit to where it’s really due to, the Gay men that paved the way…

Natalie
Natalie
9 months ago
Reply to  Tâm

Did Gay men really pave the way? I don’t agree because for the past several years most of my many male heterosexual friends have carried bags they call their “man bag”. Their bags are designer, fashion forward and the same bags that many women carry. So, no I don’t agree with you, but I’m also referencing many other heterosexual men I’ve seen in public. We can disagree on this, if you’re so inclined, which is ok. However, I do agree that many Gay men carry bags & they’re some of the most beautiful bags that I’ve ever seen i.e. one example is: E.J. Johnson, for which his style is impeccable, but again he is only one example.

Heliosophe
Heliosophe
8 months ago
Reply to  Natalie

I agree with you too. In many other countries, men carrying small bags is a common thing. They didn’t want to carry things in their pants feeling they’d lose, get stolen out of or just make their clothes weighty and bulky. It’s only in America that “sexuality” defines what you carry, as far as, these things go. I’m inclined to think that if America can get raise their minds from everyones zipper, they’d find freedom in making more things easier and less a”statement”.

EconomicallySavvy
EconomicallySavvy
8 months ago
Reply to  Natalie

Totally agree. In some countries, it’s pretty common for men to carry these types of bags…going back decades. My straight dad carried one similar to the picture in the article growing up and still does. So again, totally agree that it doesn’t have to be directed towards certain types of men.

Joseph
Joseph
8 months ago
Reply to  Natalie

The fact that you make assumptions about someone’s sexual orientation walking down the street is highly disturbing.

Natalie
Natalie
8 months ago
Reply to  Joseph

Oh, grow up! It’s not “highly disturbing”, why in the world would it be? Also, it’s not an assumption. If you have no knowledge base about this then keep it shut. People, like you, (yes, like you) are always looking to find offense where there is none. Go peddle your insecurities somewhere else; I’m not interested in your nonsense.

Burn
Burn
8 months ago
Reply to  Natalie

Yikes. You sound like a wretched human being. Check yourself.

Tâm
Tâm
8 months ago
Reply to  Joseph

Thank You for pointing that out.

Natalie
Natalie
8 months ago
Reply to  Tâm

You’re also offended by what I said? Ha! You’re being ridiculous!

Tâm
Tâm
8 months ago
Reply to  Natalie

How about this assumption?!
HI KAREN!

Tâm
Tâm
9 months ago

Also, I am a Gay Man that carries handbags, love fashion, and wears makeup too.
I am very secure in my sense of self, but I just can’t deal with the double standard. I.E. it’s so “gay” that he wears/dress like that BUT for hetero men, it’s so “Brave and Fashion Forward”. I mean WTF?!

Carol
Carol
9 months ago
Reply to  Tâm

To be fair, I think the author does point out that Elordi’s bag-wearing feels non-threatening to mainstream culture because he is a straight white guy: “bags that, might I add, may not have been met with the same degree of aesthetic tolerance had somebody else carried them.” It would be great if the author did a follow-up article that talked about some of the other men who are not straight white guys who are driving the men-wearing-bags trend, too.

Tâm
Tâm
9 months ago
Reply to  Carol

Absolutely!! I agree with you on ‘It would be great if the author did a follow-up article that talked about some of the other men who are not straight white guys who are driving the men-wearing-bags trend, too”.

Rob
Rob
9 months ago
Reply to  Tâm

EXACTLY. Thank you for pointing this out.

James
James
9 months ago
Reply to  Tâm

Amen!

psny15
psny15
9 months ago

He carries them well 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼

Bman
Bman
4 months ago
Reply to  psny15

I am a straight man and I carry a Medium Pandora, a 35 Keepall, an PM Eveline and various other bags that are right on the limit of how mainstream society views a man could get away with carrying. However rather the bag it is more your attitude and your gait that has much to do with how people perceive you as masculine or feminine when carrying the bag. This with your dress completes your look. Elordi can carry the bags he carries one because he is large and two because he acts very masculine so much so that it outshadows the femininity of the bag he may be carrying. Anyway just my theory.

John
John
8 months ago

I don’t agree with one comment saying gay men should be credited for man-bags, and mind you I’m a gay man. My father’s a huge fan of leather portfolios back in the day, even passing down a few to me when I went to college. Now, he’s all about crossbodies or leather totes. Sure, gay men can be attributed to the rise of dudes wearing women’s bag, especially for things like street-styles or editorials, but we’re not the reason behind the idea of man-bags. Not even close.

Adangerousbeauti
Adangerousbeauti
8 months ago

That Diesel ad is tasteless.