Tote Bags in Fashion

If you like to be prepared for any situation, then you need a spacious and practical handbag on your arm – which is why you should add one of our beautifully-crafted leather tote bags to your wardrobe. Tote Bags have become a staple for women around the world due to their versatility and timeless style, and with so many different shapes, styles, colours and designs available, you can’t go wrong when you invest in a quality leather Tote Bags.

With a large collection of nylon, oilskin and leather totes for sale here at Radley, you can add the finishing touch to any outfit, whatever the occasion. Whether you’re looking for smart tote handbags, or something more suited to your off-duty style, you can find it in our shop.

What is a Tote Bags?

A Tote Bags is a classic handbag design, which is usually larger in size and has two parallel handles that are attached to each side of the bag. The handles are either long enough to wear on your shoulder, in a cross-body style or short enough that the bag can be worn in the crook of your arm or held in your hand.

Tote Bags are a popular choice of bag for many occasions, many have said their tote bag is indispensable to their lives. They are popular work bags because of their size which allows the user to fit a large amount into their large tote bag. They are also good everyday bags as they are easy to put over your shoulder and put everything you need in for the day, whilst also leaving some extra space in case you happen to buy any extras! Tote bags can come in all different shapes, colours and materials, it is the fact that they have the two parallel handles which classes them as tote bags.

Helping the environment

Recently there has be a rise in people wanting to help the environment more. One way to help is to reduce the amount of plastic they use. Many supermarkets have opted to selling canvas tote bags instead of producing a large number of plastic bags. A study by the UK Environment Agency found that canvas tote bags have to be reused at least 131 times before they can match the carbon expenditure of a single disposable plastic bag. As a result, the tote bag has become an increasingly popular bag amongst those that understand the environment crisis. Carrying your Tote Bags acts as a dual purpose, a bag with all your belongings and also stops you needing to pick / buy another bag to carry home the shopping!

It is very common now for supermarkets to have tote bags and market them as ‘bags for life’ to reduce plastic production and save the environment. The great thing about a tote bag is that some cost pennies and others cost thousands of pounds. Today, the Tote Bags comes in many materials, shapes and sizes, however its main function of being able to carry all your things in one place remains.

Where did the Tote Bags originate?

Originally Tote Bags were just a single panel of material which was then stitched up across either sides and then two separate handles were secured. Whilst the design purpose was largely the same – producing a functional spacious bag that would perfectly carry all and more necessities, the quality due to the material design wasn’t as high. Over time the tote bag has developed, and the design has been made to be stronger and longer lasting thanks to a better design, stronger material and also a secure base which will support the weight of the tote bags contents. Extra interior pockets and fastenings has been added to increase the users organisation. The first tote bag which still remains popular to this day is the canvas tote.

The term ‘tote’ didn’t used to just apply to the tote bag but instead all bags. This is because the word derived from the Swahili ‘tuta’ which means to carry which by definition was a bags / ‘totes’ purpose. It wasn’t until the 19th century that the term tote was changed to define what we understand a tote bag to be now- a large, functional, practical, strong bag. The tote bags popularity grew in the late 19th century as it became the bag of choice when carrying groceries and transporting other heavy things from place to place. At this time the tote bag was used purely as a functional bag to get the job done. However, around the 1960s designers became experimenting with different materials such as denim and even a leather tote bag was created. It was around then that the Tote Bags became a hit amongst fashionistas too.

Global Tote Bags trends

When the Tote Bags first emerged, it was used to transport household goods from place to place or for general household chores such as grocery shopping.

End of the 19th century designers experimented with materials and began producing more fashion forward styles such as leather tote bags, red tote bags and of course the classic black Tote Bags.

The Tote Bags became so popular thanks to it’s functional and now fashionable design. Fashion brands caught on and kept updating their staple totes, the addition of zipper tote bags were introduced or animal print tote bags, whatever the trend was in that moment a tote bag was incorporated.

When the first leather Tote Bags was produced consumers went mad. The material was not only classic and eternally stylish but also made the tote bag very high quality as leather is durable and water resistant.

Radley Tote Bags for Women

Cable Street- Large Zip Top Tote Bag


Cable Street, Large Tote Bag will fast become you go to. Spacious interiors enable you to fit everything for your day, laptop and papers to trainers and gym gear, this large tote will amaze you. The grab handles and the cross body adjustable straps offer a functional component and the soft nylon fabric with the zip top offers a stylish edge to a classic tote.

Indigo Place- Large Flapover Shoulder Bag


Indigo Place is the quintessential fashion tote for women. The combination of faux croc leather with bright rich pink makes this stylish tote the ultimate fashion accessory. However, this statement tote bag is not just about style, it’s also very functional. The multiple interior compartments ensure maximum organisation. Therefore, this ladies tote bag is the perfect day to night bag, suitable as a work bag and stylish enough for an evening bag.

London Shopper- Large Zip-Top Tote Bag


The London shopper tote is all about practicality. You will fit all your essentials and more, whilst leaving some room for any extra goodies you happen to walk past.

Radley Tote Bags for Men

Redchurch Street- Medium Zip-Top Tote Bag


The edgiest and most practical tote bag for men has arrived. The Redchurch Tote offers a grab hold option and also adjustable cross body oversized straps. The interior is full of separate pockets to keep you organised throughout your day and the canvas exterior keep you looking professional and cool 24/7.

Different Types of Tote Bags

Beach Tote Bag


Tote Bags are a popular style of bag for people to take to the beach with them. This is because they are usually large and simple in design but can also be bright and colourful. This makes them perfect for the beach as you can fit all of your beach necessities in it, and it also looks very summery. These type of tote bags are usually made from materials such as straw, canvas or nylon, as they are resistant to heat sand and water.

Canvas Tote Bag


This is one of the original styles of Tote Bags, which is still widely used today. Quite simply, it is called a canvas tote because it is made from canvas material. These are popular shopping bags, as they are lightweight, but still strong so can hold all of your items.

Luxury Tote Bag


Most people think of a Tote Bag to be quite casual, however, many fashion designers have created luxury tote bags that are made from much more luxurious materials such as leather and have metallic embellishments on them. They are more often used as work bags or for more formal occasions. This is because they have more sophisticated designs, with compartments and zipper fastenings.

Sports Tote Bag


Tote bags are bags to carry your gym and sport wear around with you. This is because they are larger than most other styles of bag, and you usually carry more with you when going to the gym. Sports tote bags are sturdier than usually tote bags so that they can handle wear and tear.

Shopping Tote Bag


These are now commonly used instead of plastic bags that you are given by stores when you go shopping. Since more people are becoming concerned about the environment, there is a greater emphasis on using reusable bags instead of disposable plastic ones. These shopping bags usually have a simple design without any pockets or extra compartments. they also come in a variety of colours and designs, which makes them very interesting.

How to Choose the Right Tote Bag for You

What are you using it for?


If you are wanting to use a tote bag for work the it is better to go for one that is slightly larger and has thick shoulder straps. This is because the bag is likely to be heavier with papers and laptops needing to be carried. Leather is also a smarter looking material, so would be good for if you have a corporate job. If you are using the tote bag for everyday life shopping, it’s likely you’ll only need to take your essentials such as your phone, purse and a couple of extra bits, so you could get away with a smaller bag. Non-leather is a much more casual material to use for everyday life.

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 tote bag which has a thick shoulder strap on it. This is because it will be much more comfortable to carry, and the weight of the bag 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 tote bag 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 shoulder or when you are carrying it. 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 have your tote bag outside, it would be better to go for one that is made of a waterproof or water-resistant material to protect it from rain or snow. Occasion wise, leather generally looks smarter than other materials, however you can get a non-leather bag that looks smart if you are looking for a work bag.

How to wear a Tote Bag

The best way is to put both straps over your shoulder and carry your Tote Bag under your arm.

Hold you bag in the crook of your arm if you want to show it off.

The other way is for you to hold the straps with your hand for more of a casual/beachy vibe.

Fun Facts

Tote Bags are one of the most versatile types of bags, they can be used as your everyday bag, school bag, laptop bag, shopping bag, beach bag or anything you want it to be!

The word tote means ‘to carry something, especially something heavy or awkward.’

The tote bag began as the ice carrier and was re-introduced in the 1960s in the same form as it is built today.

Canvas tote bags are one of the most popular items to give away during promotions.

From School to University to Work , a Tote Bag will carry you through

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

You can now buy tote bags which are made from premium materials such a leather, to give a more luxurious feel to your work bag. In regard to school and university, using canvas tote bags are a good way to transport your books around. The lightweight material means that you are carrying around less weight with you.