Monday, November 15, 2010

behind a trend: backpacks


Once reserved for hauling a hunter’s game around, the backpack has existed throughout the ages for its practical sensibilities. Its balanced weight, worn on one of the sturdiest parts of the human body, it has been used to tote school books around, help us travel the world with ease, and has been taken to war zones. Its sensible nature, and the somewhat uptight connotations that comes with this, has meant that rarely has the backpack entered the fashion realm, and has been widely regarded as a fashion faux pas.

One designer who had faith in the double-strapped pack was Miuccia Prada, who is the late ‘70s introduced the accessory to high fashion. Prada’s signature backpacks were no bigger than a purse, slung low over the back.

Throughout the ‘90s backpacks entered the mainstream. Cult classic film, Clueless, helped make the look extremely popular, featuring pieces from American fashion designer Jill Stuart’s first collection. Just as quickly as the backpacks entered the fashion scene, they went out.

So what’s with their current re-emergence? While it can be linked back to the wider ‘90s trend the industry is caught up on, styles are now more unisex, larger and inspired by military rucksacks or loose, nomadic cloth sacks once toted by the beatnik crowd.

More likely to be referred to as a rucksack – the German word mainly used in the UK and in the US Army – they are casual, implying carelessness and ease, and – albeit ironically – are a fuck you to fashion and its impractical nature. Why should a girl carry a tiny purse just because Luis Vuitton says so?

A passing fad—no doubt —but their comfort is undeniable.


  1. that bag!! wow!!!

  2. 3 cheers for backpacks! Yeahhh!!! xx