To “tote” is to carry something, particularly something big or heavy. It is only fitting that tote bags are designed to carry big and heavy things. The popularity of these bags began in 1944 with L.L. Bean’s Boat Bag, and became a staple by the 1950s. It is well-liked because it made carrying large or multiple items more convenient as compared to bigger, bulkier bags. Women, in general, took to using this type of bag for functional purposes, like a basket. But thanks to Kate Spade in the 1990s, the bag which was initially thought of and used as a low maintenance, functional bag became a luxurious fashion bag.
Known for its square or bucket-like shape, this bag has handles on each side, and no visible pockets. These bags usually come with zippers or magnetic clasps. But as they are typically worn over the shoulders or on the elbow, users are comfortable to leave them open more of the time. Most totes are made out of flexible, sturdy cloths, most commonly heavy canvas. These canvas bags are popular among teenagers because they require minimal maintenance. Most canvas totes are designed using different dyes, or painted with quirky quotes and prints. These bags go well with a comfy casual outfit of shorts and sneakers, and can be brought along to many places like school, the mall, and the beach. Luxury tote bags are often made out of leather, nylon, and other synthetic materials because they are more durable and easy to clean. These totes can vary in size and in texture, depending on the material used. Nylon totes can be firm and structured, able to hold its shape no matter the contents. This type of bag may be water-proof due to its synthetic nature, so it would be safe to bring to the beach or when taking a ride over water. Leather tote bags tend to be more flexible, although they must be well cared for. Some luxury brands sell this type of totes. In an effort to be eco-friendly, some grocery stores and fashion boutiques sell and make use of totes made out of recycled materials. These are typically thin, with visible fibers.