If you’re one of the people that doesn’t leave their home without their tote bag, then this article is for you. The tote bag as we know it didn’t become popular until the colorful 1980s, gathering attention from all over the world, especially in the US.
Stick around to learn a bit more about the famed shoulder bag, i.e., the tote bag, and how the trend started in the first place. This is the ultimate guide to how the rolling bag trend started, who started it and how it has evolved. Moreover, we’ll reveal where to find the coveted Hulken bag before they run out of stock again!
Who Started the Tote Bag Trend? The Origin of the Tote Bag
The popular tote bag didn’t get the name we know today until the 20th century. However, large bags used for carrying items are believed to have been easing lives since the 17th century. In the US, people went crazy about the tote in the 1940s.
Thanks to the launch of L.L. Bean's Boat Bag started the tote craze in 1944! It didn’t take long for people to fall in love with the practicality and convenience of the tote bag. Before the tote gathered the attention of the masses, people used rather bulky and large suitcases to transport their groceries, necessities, and other different loads.
The beginning of the 1950s was the time that the tote really caused a frenzy among women in the U.S. Given the spacious storage and minimal maintenance, women started using them as handbags, too.
Thanks to Bonnie Cashin, the mid-21st century fashion designer, women across the U.S. got introduced to the Cashin Carry tote bag. Designed with a slick artistic combination of functionality and class, the tote bag became an inseparable part of every fashion-conscious woman in the States.
And today, when it comes to day-to-day habits and activities, a tote bag is the ultimate handbag. Due to the available design patterns, practicality, ease of use, and spacious interior, the tote bag pairs nicely with every style – from classic to casual and even black tie.
It Started With a Word
What is it in a name? In this case, the word tote originates from the verb to tote, meaning to carry by hand. Who knew a single word could mean so much in the fashion industry?
For centuries before, people have been using cotton and leather to fashion out purses or clothing items, so it isn’t all that surprising to see a bag made of cotton, too.
Let’s go through each separate period in more detail so you can truly learn the origin of the tote bag.
It All Started in the 1940s...
Before it hyped up American women in the 1960’, the tote bag graced the fashion industry in a rather altered appearance. Namely, a certain Maine-based outdoor store called L.L. Bean started selling an ice bag that offered a whole lot of carrying space and practical and durable handles to suit nicely on the shoulder or the hand. The creation was all about using canvas as the primary material.
Moving On to the 1960s…
It wasn’t until the 1960s that L.L. Bean struck again, but now with a different version of the canvas bag called the Boat and Tote. This time, the bag came with more lively designs and colorful trims – a trait that still lingers in the fashion designs of today.
During this period in time, the tote bag really picked up the pace and became a highly sought-after handbag that offered more than convenience – it became a fashion statement.
Then Came the 1970s and 1980s…
Following the vibrant sixties, tote bags evolved their style in the following decades. This time, the marketing agenda focused on portraying the tote bag as a business bag, too. In that period, totes became largely accepted as part of the business outfit, mainly because they were used as promo items.
Did you know businesses in the 1980s used to offer tote bags as promotional merch? Because they were affordable and easy to make, more and more businesses considered totes as the ultimate advertising tactic. Companies would even brand the bags with their own logos and sell them as trending fashion accessories.
Here Come the 1990s…
Remember IKEA’s Frakta, the dollar bag that took to the streets of Europe by storm in the 1990s? The all-time favorite blue-and-yellow bag has the capacity to carry as heavy as 30 pounds! Hands down, the super-sized carry-on bag was the ultimate craze back in the 90s – it was the reusable shopping bag you could sport with your head up high.
Other brands soon followed suit and started circulating their own versions of branded reusable shopping bags, like the Marc Jacobs tote.
Not So Long Ago, in the 2010s…
At this point in the history of the tote, the bag really took the world by storm. The 2010s marked the era of self-expression and individual style more than ever. In fact, the New Yorker even went a step further and handed out branded tote bags to their subscribers!
The Tote in the Modern Day of Today…
Today, the tote bag, be it a leather tote bag, a canvas one, or a sequined version of the tote, is an inseparable part of almost every woman’s outfit. It’s easily one of the most versatile and adaptable handbags.
Even though the genuine design traits of the tote bag have persisted, you can still find tote bags in almost every possible design. Office wear? Sure! A cocktail party? You bet! Did you know tote bags were also called schlep bags? Check out our other article to find out more about this term.
The Ice Bag That Became the Everything Bag
As we mentioned, L.L. Bean popularized the tote bag. At first, its main purpose was to transport large quantities of ice. As the bag slowly found its way into other uses, L.L. Bean’s idea sparked the trend of the now-praised tote bag.
As people using the original tote bag found other uses for it, it wasn’t long before housewives used it to go grocery shopping, transport logs from the basement to the living room, pack heaps of clothes for trips, and so on.
The Custom Tote Bag
Toward the late 1980s, the tote bag spread its popularity from rural Maine to the metropolis that is New Your City. As history shows, there was a particular bookstore in NYC known as The Strand, which was thought of evolving the concept of the then-known canvas tote bag.
The first Strand Tote launched in 1980, loudly marketing the store’s logo and address. The Strand sure did pave the way for other indie bookstores, craft shops, small-town stores, and other businesses to do the same.
Our very own Hulken bag proudly continues the tote craze, offering an upgraded version of the famed bag. Moreover, the Hulken tote is the go-to wheeled bag that you can use as a laundry bag, a grocery bag, a travel bag, and even use it to store logs for the fireplace!
The stylish design, spacious interior, and eye-catching color options make the Hulken an all-in-one tote you can schlep around with style. Check our site right now to make sure you get the Hulken bag while it’s still in stock!
Why Are Tote Bags Still the It Accessory in the Modern World?
As we mentioned, the tote bag we know today is everything from lightweight to convenient to chic and reliable. It still hasn’t gone out of style, and we’re sure it won’t anytime soon.
Both women and men appreciate a good tote bag because it fits any style pretty well. You can find your own tote in almost all designs, patterns, and sizes. Plus you can also find one made of sustainable materials, too.
At the doorstep of the 20th century, totes marked the era of style and convenience, and the trend has continued until this day. The tote really is a staple of style and elegance – the ultimate choice for always having your essentials at hand.
Long Live the Tote Bag
With all of the perks and versatility of the tote bag we know today, it makes it pretty obvious why everyone loves it. Making its way through as an ice bag, then as merch for advertising, the tote finally found its place as the go-to stylish accessory complementing every outfit.
The Hulken Rolling Tote Bag: A Tote But Reinvented!
Get your very own rolling tote bag at Hulken and be part of the thousands of Hulken-loving fashionistas. If you’re looking for a massive or smallish tote you can roll, you’ve found it! Check out why this rolling tote is the best gift for influencers.
The Hulken is the ultimate fashion statement in wheeled bags – you no longer have to carry loads of groceries, books, or clothes on your shoulder. Say hello to your new favorite laundry bag, work bag, but also travel bag, as well as travel bag for hair stylists. The Hulken schlepping bag comes with heavy-duty wheels that’ll last a lifetime!
Make your pick of rose, black, or silver Hulken, and pre-order it now before it’s gone again!
Curious to learn more about rolling totes? Check out our articles on how the rolling tote has been reinvented, what TikTok items you need to have, read our interview with the co-founder of Hulken, and find out what the perfect bag for hair stylists is. Also, check out our guide on different sizes, our tote bag winner for 2023, read everything about the popularity of tote bags, and find out what the most popular work bag for women is.