Mark Twain was right about new ideas. There’s no such thing. And certainly not when it comes to fashion. It’s with the cyclical nature of clothing in mind that we should consider the phenomenon of beach bags for boys; i.e. not as a peculiar and eccentric edition to the menswear landscape but as a return to form for one of the most ancient and inspired accessory choices of all time. After all, a wicker basket that bears a significant resemblance to the styles bartered for in markets, souks and seaside shops across the globe is as original as a glass of chablis on a hot summer’s day.
"Loewe is the creator of the most coveted straw bag of the decade"
That won’t stop it from becoming the most talked about men’s accessory since wraparound sunglasses. In chic beach bars and on city getaways, the basket is summer’s unsung hero. Loewe, creator of the most coveted basket of the decade, has ensured this bag’s renewed status as a wardrobe icon. Its version, a genderless style that features in its Balearic-inspired Paula’s Ibiza collection, has an Instagram following to rival the population of a Spanish island. It has also caught the eye of the self-assured menswear shopper this summer.
“It may seem like an unexpected choice for some men,” notes Damian Paul, head of menswear at matchesfashion.com, of the Loewe style that continues to sell out at pace, “but it’s actually a very practical item”.
Undoubtedly it’s a style that works best on holiday, with basket bags reminiscent of the kind picked up in market stalls by the French seaside — just add beard and Breton top — among the finest examples of this trend. “Sure, it’s not the first type of bag you expect to see be carried through Liverpool Street on your morning commute but we have actually seen several guys using them on our travels — presumably because you can fit lots of stuff in,” agrees Paul.
And yet if next spring’s menswear collections are anything to go by it seems the basket bag may be about to shake off its sand-and-sun-lotion status in exchange for broader appeal. Certainly it is poised to be everywhere next summer, with Celine leading the way. In the latest instalment of his homage to classic French style, Hedi Slimane put the basket front, right and centre. Seaside-inspired straw styles are updated for slick city types with sumptuous leather trims, while a slogan version that features in a campaign shot by Slimane is set to appeal to the street style brigade. Sacai will also offer a take on this trend via oversized options which were unveiled alongside oversized parkas and cargo shorts.
But let’s go back to the beach for a bit because it’s here that Everyman can embrace the basket. Select a classic style — a market find is as good as any luxury purchase — and where possible (cabin baggage depending) opt for the biggest style you can find.