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Thanks To Backpack's Revival, Lugging Stuff Is Fashionable Again

So trendy. Again.
So trendy. Again.

Backpacks are making a comeback. Which shouldn't be surprising. We're so obsessed with athletic wear designed to be worn everywhere but the gym, so it would seem inevitable that sports bags would make an appearance, too.

But it's not the bag filled with American history books that kids heave to school. Nor is it the rugged, nylon thing athletes carry around. These backpacks are clever examples of fashion following function.

Backpacks' outdoorsy heritage gives wearers a patina of daring and freedom. A briefcase? That's so company-woman. This age of bold (or pragmatic) entrepreneurialism calls for a bag that bellows adventure. Plus, what are you supposed to carry when you're already wearing sweatpants to work? A backpack.

Here's who's diving into the fray:

Not content with conquering the shoe world, Vince Camuto's handbag collection boasts three great-looking and utility-friendly backpack styles. There's a small, butter-soft, black pouch with a zippered strap, or a crisp white-and-black number that might remind you of 1920s men in linen suits taking seaside strolls, and thus is well-suited to summer.

You may prefer the clean lines and smooth leather of a midsize handbag from Alexander Wang or Proenza Schouler. Proenza Schouler has one with a generous top flap and square bottom. It comes in red, black or dove gray with gold or silver trim.

Several big fashion names have gotten creative with what may become the new "it" bag. Unusual prints, pebbled leather and other distinctive treatments like studs, beading and fringe are everywhere. Emerging designer Sarah Law has some of the best-looking backpacks around. Her collection, sold under the name "Kara," includes bags with eclectic combinations of shearling and pebble leather, and others in painterly hues of wine or sky blue.

Generally, there's a lot more whimsy in backpacks this go-round than existed in the '90sm — though the fluffy backpacks and kiddie colors of Clueless would be an exception, or maybe an inspiration,for designers like Law.

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Constance C.R. White
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