Backpacks in Fashion | Radley London

Backpacks in Fashion – Explore all things Backpacks. Both functional and stylish, backpacks are the perfect accompaniment to any outfit, whether you’re seeking casual or smart style. It’s official — the backpack is back! Both functional and stylish, our designer leather backpacks are the perfect accompaniment to any outfit, whether you’re seeking casual or smart style. With enough room to hold your laptops, chargers, notebooks and diaries, our leather backpacks are designed especially for the woman on the go - so you don’t have to compromise.

The ideal accessory to add to your work wardrobe, our real leather backpacks mean that you can carry all your important personal items with ease, while also keeping them safe. Take a closer look at our exciting range of on-trend women’s leather backpacks. If you’re looking for something more casual, we have a range of fabric designer backpacks too, available in wearable colours or elegant prints and in practical water-resistant materials.

What is a Backpack and Is the Backpack Designed for Men or Women?

Quite simply, a backpack is a bag used to carry things on your back. Although handbags are generally considered to be a women’s accessory, backpacks are equally as much of an accessory staple for men and women.

Backpacks were originally designed for practical use rather than fashion. This is because they can carry multiple things in many different compartments. However, as the trend developed, consumers soon realised how functionality and style could come hand in hand, as a result the fashion backpack was born. Men and Women started wearing their backpack as a style statement and a choice, rather than solely for practical purposes. Whilst the accessory remains fairly gender neutral with the evolving trend came more styles focused towards women and men. Other differences between the designer backpack and the travel backpack is the size: fashion backpacks for women in particular tend to be more petite and often come in a more sleek and colourful design, whereas backpacks for men tend to be darker and more simplistic. In comparison whilst trendy backpacks will still feature multi compartments, the travel backpack will be able to cope with heavier loads and will feature many other additional components that have been designed specifically to make the users life easier. One key travel backpack design feature that comes to mind is the heavy-duty adjustable straps or compression straps that help with evening the load and also many come with anti-theft features.

Where did Backpacks Originate?

When backpacks were first created, they were designed to be used by hikers and the military. The essence of the backpack design was to ensure that the weight carried would be distributed evening, reducing the risk of back, neck and shoulder pain in the user. It also meant that you were handsfree as the backpack features dual straps and often a harness and hip belt.

“The heart of backpacking lies in the journey, the desire to explore a world beyond our everyday lives, and in so doing explore ourselves.”
(Chris Townsend, 1991 – ‘The Backpacker’s Handbook’)

For years before the modern backpack was created people carried items on their back, still to this day those in less developed countries carry fire wood and other necessities on their back. The modern backpack first made an appearance thanks to Henry Miriam, who called his wood and canvas design the ‘knapsack’. Miriam’s knapsack was specifically designed to help the US military carry their items more efficiently. Many people post Henry Miriam redesigned the backpack using several different materials from leather, nylon and canvas to wood and light steel. However, the most unique use of materials was tried in the 1920s by a gentleman named Lloyd F. Nelson who needed a comfortable hiking backpack to use on his exploration of Alaska, Nelson decided to create a backpack made entirely from a combination of sticks and seal skin!

The modern backpack is ever evolving and with changing consumer demands and improvements in technology the student backpack has transformed. The original design was far bulkier and featured large interior pockets perfectly suited for carrying their heavy books, however with book taking a backseat to tablets the school backpack has changed to a much more streamlined and sleek design.

Global Trends of Backpacks

Backpacks have always been a popular choice of bag due to how practical they are when it comes to carrying heavier items. Hikers, the Military, travellers and workers tend to opt for a backpack. It is said that the official backpack inventor was Asher “Dick” Kelty in 1952. Kelty was an avid hiker and did not like the current style of his backpack as he found it to be uncomfortable. Seeing the potential Asher Kelty and his wife decided to create a more functional and comfortable design using materials leftover from the war.

One of the first times the demand for backpacks hugely increased was between the 1930’s and the 1960’s when school, college and university students started using backpacks to carry their books.

By the 1980’s many backpacks had advanced in their designs and were tailored to the exact needs of students. Still however, from then until around 2010, backpacks were mainly only used for practical purposes. It wasn’t until the past 10 years that the backpack was seen as fashionable, much of this can be attributed to style icons and influencers adopting the trend and as a result their followers have deemed the backpack ‘cool’.

As a result of this adoption fashion backpacks are now a very trendy way to carry all of your daily essentials. They are still made with a variety of different materials ranging from leather and canvas to nylon, and many more. The fashion backpack is now so popular that many major fashion brands will likely have created several different backpack styles.

Backpacks are much more advanced than when they were originally designed. For example, some feature multiple compartments for maximum storage, some have extra pockets on the exterior of the bag, many come with rain covers or even specific water bottle pockets.

How to Choose the Right Backpack for You

What are you using your Backpack for?
Are you taking it on a trek or shopping? If you are going hiking or on a trek, then you will probably be after a larger more lightweight backpack. Look for one that has adjustable straps and multiple compartments. On the other hand, if you are going shopping, it’s likely you will only need to carry your daily essentials such as your phone and purse. As a result, a smaller backpack made from a more fashionable fabric such as leather would be perfect.

How much will you need to put in it?
The more you need to put in the larger it will need to be. If your bag it going to be heavy, it’s always better to go for a backpack which has a thicker strap on it. This is because the weight of it will be distributed more evenly across your shoulders and be a lot comfier for you.

Try it on
Take what you will carry in the backpack with you and try it on with everything inside. That way you can see how heavy the bag will be when it’s on your back. You will also be able to work out if it is a comfortable fit on you.

Where are you taking it?
If you’re going to be wearing it outside, it would be better to go for a waterproof backpack or even a water-resistant backpack to protect it from rain or snow.

Yes, you can buy a backpack that fits everything, but what about the additional elements? If you are going to be wearing your backpack outside all of the time, then it’s good to consider having a rain cover for extra protection. There are other extras such as a hydration reservoir, or extra straps to attach items to the exterior of your backpack.

How to Wear a Backpack

  • Always wear both straps on your shoulders to prevent any pain to your back and shoulders.
  • Adjust the shoulder straps so that the backpack is high on your back.
  • Your backpack should weigh less than 10% of your body weight, but, you should never carry a backpack that weighs more that 20%.

Fun Facts about Backpacks

  • Before the word backpack was invented, the terms knapsack and packsack were used.
  • Using a backpack is much better for your back and posture compared to wearing a handbag.
  • The lightest items should always go at the bottom of your backpack.
  • Astronauts use backpacks on space missions.
  • Over the past 5 years, there has been a huge rise in popularity for backpacks.

Backpack Stats

  • As of May 2014, backpack sales among adults were up over 33%.
  • More than 79 million students in the United States carry backpacks.
  • In Spring 2017, there were over 47 million people who went backpacking in the United States.

From School to University to Work, The Backpack Will Carry You Through

Using a backpack for work is a great idea! With many people having to carry a laptop or tablet with them to and from work, a backpack is the perfect bag that will both protect your laptop but look stylish at the same time. If your work bag is slightly heavier, a backpack is good as the weight is distributed evenly across your back, preventing shoulder and neck strain. Backpacks come in water-resistant materials to protect everything inside, and many also come with zips for that extra bit of security and convenience on your commute.

What is the Difference Between a Backpack and a Rucksack?

Backpacks are often used to describe bags that you wear for work, school, college or a day/weekend trip. They have two shoulder straps and sometimes a support strap for your waist which is designed to carry most of the weight of the bag.

A rucksack on the other hand is often used to describe a more adventure backpack used for activities such as camping or hiking. More often than not the rucksack will have both a waist strap, and also a chest strap too. In reality, there is not really much difference in the way that a backpack and a rucksack are designed, it is just more common for the term backpack to be used for fashion, and rucksack to be used for more practical and functional bags. All in all, they both allow you to carry heavier loads on your back.

How a Heavy Backpack can Affect your Spine

Backpacks should weigh less than 10% of your body weight, and if it weighs more than 20% of your body weight, it could cause damage to your body. The heavier the backpack combined with the length of time spent wearing the backpack can cause a muscle strain to your shoulders, neck and even your back. Overtime, your muscles may fatigue which can cause you to have poor posture, muscle imbalance and increases the risk of a long-term injury. To avoid any damage to your body, it is important that you do not put too much weight in your backpack, always put the lightest items at the bottom of the backpack, always wear both straps and make sure of any additional support straps are utilised. Ensure you adjust the backpack backpack straps so that it sits in a high and comfortable position on your back.

Fashion Backpacks We Love

Arlington Court- Large Zip-Top Backpack
The Arlington Court Backpack was designed in collaboration with Radley’s ambassador, British tennis player Johanna Konta. The backpack features multiple pockets to ensure you stay as organised as possible and the soft leather exterior ensures a stylish finish. Arlington Courts silhouette ensure a hassle hand-free experience due to both the shoulder straps and a bonus go-to grab handle.

Doddington- Medium Zip Around Backpack
Doddington is the perfect stylish companion for everyday use. It perfectly combines a sporty feel with a stylish edge. This edge is seen through the soft leather exterior and double zips whilst the spacious compartments ensure there’s room for all your daily essentials.

Newton Park- Medium Flapover Backpack
The Newton Park Medium Backpack perfectly fuses functionality with a fashionable edge. The whole Newton Park collection feature clean stich trims with gold metal hardware and the smooth leather has a trend focused touch thanks to the snakeskin colour black panels. This design not only looks fantastic but the adjustable back straps and the grab and go handle creates the perfect fashion backpack for those who want to remain on trend but also organised.

Functional and Stylish Rucksacks for Women

Crofters Way- Large Zip Around Backpack
The Crofters Way Backpack is the perfect style for those that need to run from work to workout. The spacious middle compartment will easily fit laptop, diaries, chargers, trainers and more and thanks to the other zip and slip compartments you’ll never spend ages hunting for your keys. The vibrant internal lining offers a fun sleek pop of colour to an otherwise minimalistic stylish design.

Bubble Dog- Medium Zip Around Backpack
A fresh update to the iconic Clouds Hill range, The Bubble Dog collection print features abstract bubbles with little Radley stamped throughout. The spacious internal compartments will comfortably fit any daily essentials you may have and even have space for your tablets. If you’re after a stand-out accessory that’s perfect for any work, casual or even overseas trips then the Bubble Dog- Medium Backpack is for you.

Spring Park- Large Zip Around Backpack
Need the perfect travel backpack, one that help you go from workout to work in style? That is why the Spring Park Backpack was created, the zip-top design and external zip compartments makes finding things a breeze and the large internal space ensure there’s plenty of room for any weekend outfits, laptop or gym kit.

Stylish and Functional Backpacks for Men

Cannon Street- Large Zip Around Backpack
The Cannon Street was designed to be as functional as possible without compromising on style. The multiple compartments enable you to separate your laptop from your notebook or IPad and has many other zip and slip separators for your other on-the-go essentials. The water-resistant twill Nylon ensures the backpack is lightweight and the contrasting leather trim combined with the inky tone leaves a sleek finish. An added bonus is the extra padding in the straps and interior ensures that your equipment stays cushioned and your shoulders remain ache free.

Redchurch Street- Large Flapover Backpack
The Redchurch Street collection is a range of canvas bags with an effortless edge. This backpack is the ultimate modern utility, the crisp finish and roomy interior is perfect for weekends away or even elevating your regular office wardrobe.