The pricing and status attached to luxury handbags have always eluded me. Purses and bags have always felt a bit unnecessary to me in a fashion context, and spending thousands on a bag just seems like all risk, no reward. And while I’m in no place to judge someone’s financial choices, nor have I ever gotten super into handbags, Marc Jacobs’ new The Tote Collection has me, and what seems like every girl on my campus, in a complete chokehold. I’ve seen “The Tote Bag” screen printed on bags all around Northeastern nearly every day since we’ve returned from winter break, so I decided to take a deeper dive into the new line.
The bags in this new collection cost between $195 and $550, and come in a variety of sizes, materials, and colors. The Crinkle Leather Tote (my personal favorite) is the most expensive in the line and is the forefront of The Tote Bag’s marketing campaign. It’s a glossy, medium-sized bag with a black crinkle leather body, white faux fur trim, and an absence of hardware and visible stitching. There is a hidden zipper, thin, firm handles, and the signature words “The Tote Bag” printed largely across the front of the bag above the classic Marc Jacobs logo.
With this new collection came a complete re-branding of the Marc Jacobs brand and a shiny new Instagram feed. Sporting wilder prints, brighter colors, and bolder lettering than ever seen before, Marc Jacobs is definitely attempting to appeal to a younger consumer base than prior years. This collection demonstrates a shift between the previously elegant and refined Marc Jacobs to an increasingly exuberant, colorful Marc Jacobs. The Tote Collection’s bags have swarmed the brand’s “Bestsellers” tab online and are being praised for their versatility in both utility and color scheme.
The anatomy of the bags in this collection are all very similar with the exception of The Camera Bag and The Functional Tote Bag. The main color variations are black, blue, beige, pink, and green, along with plenty of different patterns like animal print, jacquard, and tie dye. Some bags have a stiff cotton body while others are made of 100% genuine cow leather.
A part of what makes these bags so loveable are their distinct shapes. Their user-friendly construction and classic square form is what allows them to be worn casually, dressed up, or even with athleisure, explaining their extreme popularity with college students and busy girls in their 20’s.
Alongside the release of the Tote Collection came a wide range of accessories like scarves and patches, giving the line somewhat of an 80’s feel. While completely young and fresh, the Tote Collection manages to pull off a retro feel, aiding in the appeal to ‘20-something’ demographics who are famously the most environmentally-conscious, vintage-obsessed consumers in the market.
While I was overly pleased with the line’s aesthetic variety, I was disappointed in the choice of construction with cow leather, particularly with the Crinkle Leather Tote. While the luxurious quality of genuine leather is appealing, I feel the use of faux leather or completely vegan materials would have attracted an even greater number of new Marc Jacobs fans and wouldn’t have been impossible to pull off. I was also hoping to find the inside of the bags mess-proof or water-proof, but sadly was disappointed. Not super girl-on-the-go friendly, but not many luxury bags tend to be. Marc Jacobs does, however, have a very public relationship with the SATO Project– a nonprofit dedicated to rescuing abandoned and abused dogs from Puerto Rico. So while Marc Jacobs definitely needs to improve their sustainability practices, they are still happily engaged with charity.
Despite my disappointment in the choice of genuine leather, I’m extremely satisfied with the range of this collection and give the brand major props for launching a completely new and different aesthetic. There are seven different bag constructions: the XL Tote, Tote, Small Tote, Mini Tote, Camera Bag, Functional Tote, and the Creature Bag, along with tons of different colors and patterns: colorblock, colored leather, crinkle leather, monogram jacquard, jacquard, denim, leopard, tie dye, “year of the tiger,” and green polyester fur.
I also want to give a special mention to the Creature Bag for it’s funky appearance and totally vegan construction with faux leather lettering and polyester fur! I wasn’t able to find a photo of this bag on Instagram, but you should definitely look it up if you’re curious what a mix between a purse and a Moshi Monster would look like.
Takeaway: Marc Jacobs’ Tote Collection is fun, fresh, and versatile– but definitely needs an environmentally conscious revamp. Tote-ally has me hooked.