Whatever happened to all the hobo bags? Are they lost forever among the party-gal pages of noughties Vogue? Stuck in a box in the back of Sienna Miller’s closet, a relic of her bohemian-Brit I had long forgotten about the iconic carryall, having been too focused on micro purses (fit for Polly Pocket and her miniature makeup sets) and shoulder bags (minimalist, sitting right below the armpit). This year, my bags have been structured, restrained, pared-back, and, yes, very small. In a way, that no-frills look has been great, even life-changing: My bag’s daily contents have been cut down to the essentials, such as a spare contact, a foundation stick, a card wallet—no cash—and a pack of gum. It’s been great for the sake of organization, but I have to ask: Where’s the fun?
The hobo bag is full of just that: fun. Its strap is strong, its body is expandable, curvy, and carefree, sometimes with a bit of slouch. It’s made for a day of shopping—stuff a pair of vintage jeans in there!—and one can even fit a liter of water (to stay hydrated all day). Also, books. I personally need to touch actual paper pages and not my phone, which is one reason why I’m making a public (and possibly unpopular) plea for the return of the hobo bag.
I have fond memories of the polarizing shape. It reminds me of the Olsen twins in their peak boho period, slinging toddler-size bags over their shoulders and looking both chic and ridiculous. What were they carrying? We may never know. But this year, I want to lug; I want that same freedom to haul my belongings wherever I may want to go.
Lucky for me—and you, if schlepping is your thing—the hobo bag is quietly coming back. I saw a stellar rendition in the Kate Spade New York Pre-Fall 2020 collection. The piece was rounded like a soft boomerang and made with an earthy, buttery suede. Vogue Market Editor Alexandra Gurvitch also pointed out several hobo bags including the hang-low souvenir-style at Loewe, the hulking denim pieces at Proenza Schouler, and leather incarnations shaped like a boxer’s maize ball at Paco Rabanne. The most genius bit, however? A hobo bag is made to carry just about anything, including your very trendy teeny-tiny purse. The best of both worlds.
Here, shop the season’s best hobo bags and get hauling.