It was during a vacation in Tokyo that a particular bag began to catch my eye. At first, I spotted it in khaki on the shoulder of a woman in front of me in a Harajuku matcha café. Then I saw it on three separate people in the same queue for some fresh sushi at the Tsukiji fish market; theirs were in similarly muted colors (beige and black). Smaller than a tote bag — but just as capacious — it has a drawstring closing that gives the bag a nice ruched, floppy shape.
Officially, I was off work, but my Strategist brain was going into overdrive attempting to sniff out where this slouchy, tote-but-not-quite bag was from. Luckily, my hunt was short-lived — I found my answer on the racks of the towering Uniqlo opposite Ueno Station as I was hunting for a waterproof jacket (a foolish omission in my packing list, unlike the two pairs of cowboy boots I bought).
It’s called the Uniqlo U Drawstring Shoulder Bag, and it’s sort of a de facto elder sister for the Round Mini Shoulder Bag that has been trending since the spring. The key difference, apart from size (and ubiquity), is that the Drawstring has a zipper compartment for your keys and so on. And unlike the Shoulder Bag, with an outer of 100 percent nylon, the Drawstring is made from a mix of materials, including a soft cotton. That soft material means that once pulled shut at the top, the top half of the bag will flop over, giving the whole thing a satisfying slouch. I decided to buy my own in black.
In the three months since I spied the bag in Tokyo, I’ve noticed it on several dance floors — this time in London rather than Tokyo. This was even more peculiar, seeing as the bag has been out of stock online since May (I should know; I’ve been checking the stock levels weekly). The first time I saw it was in the smoking area at one of South London’s Printworks raves: The girl I spotted it on had made full use of the drawstring closure, meaning her bag (in black) had shrunk down just enough to let her weave through the crowd. Then I spotted it in a gay bar in Dalston, worn (in cream) by a friend of a friend visiting from New York.
It’s not a surprise that it’s the perfect going-out bag given how much you can shove inside it. The Round Mini Shoulder Bag can fit a book, a water bottle, a portable charger, and some snacks, but inside the Drawstring, I can also stuff my new waterproof jacket, some deodorant, a notebook, my laptop, my hairbrush, and my makeup bag — and there is still room for more. I use it to haul my essentials to both the office and the gym, but, as proven, it’s capable of being worn on a night out, too. And though part of me is loath to make this Uniqlo bag as popular as its smaller sister, I feel obliged to inform you that the Drawstring is finally back in stock. From a fish market to a Jamie xx set, it’s a ludicrously capacious bag that can do it all.
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