Last week, Creatures of Comfort teased a new product in an Instagram Story: bright pink and baby blue leather tote bags laser cut to look like nets, with big steel handles. The bags were like upmarket, next-gen fisherman grocery bags — the kind popularized in recent years by Céline (which released a version of the bag in 2015), and Vetements (which featured one in their fall 2017 look book).
These homages are interesting, but perhaps unnecessary. After all, we’re currently experiencing a golden era of casual and highly affordable utility bags: Hardy nylon Baggus, canvas printed totes, Mexican market bags, and straw baskets are so well integrated into modern style — and convey status in their own weird way — that spending hundreds on the expensive counterparts doesn’t seem worth it. Particularly as it relates to the humble net bag.
Net bags, from what we can glean, appeared in the 1920s in Czechoslovakia as a grocery bag, before becoming ubiquitous across the globe when trendsetting Parisians began using them in the ’60s and ’70s for toting baguettes home from the market. Gabrielle Pelletier, the accessories buyer at e-commerce site Lisa Says Gah, gives the French credit for the most recent resurgence of net-bag popularity as well: Anne-Laure Mais, the creative director of Musier Paris, and Jeanne Damas, the founder of clothing line Rouje, both of whom began wearing them publicly (on the street and online, where their outfits are viewed and dissected by some combined 1.5 million followers) around 2016. Around that time, we started noticing women grabbing net bags from spots like Pearl River Mart in Chinatown, swapping them in for their screen-printed canvas totes, or using them for beach days.
Pelletier says that the version of the net bag available on Lisa Says Gah has done exceptionally well in the two years since she started stocking it. “I think people are pleased to not have to buy an ‘It’ designer bag anymore,” she says. “The net bag is versatile, cheap, and chic — you can use it from day to night.” (If you do plan to cart one around day to night, here’s a tip: get some nylon zip pouches to hold your smaller things. Otherwise they will absolutely fall out.)
And who wouldn’t like the idea of a slightly chicer, genderless, expandable, and incredibly cheap (I know can’t be trusted with expensive bags) tote? We think it’s like the Euro version of the clear vinyl handbags that have been popping up all over the place: see-through, but in a relaxed leaving-the-farmers-market way. Here are the new statement bags — besides one designer bag, the priciest one is just $36 — we like the best.
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