The history of the bag

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First bag

The history of the appearance of the bag is associated with one controversial moment. Just as people cannot understand what came first — an egg or a chicken, so there is a kind of mystery here: what came first — a pocket or a bag.

Some sources say that the first bag can even be called what primitive people in prehistoric times wore on a long stick — a bag made of animal skin (the so-called «knot»). Other historical references say that it is the pocket that appeared on the camisole of Louis XIV that is the main forefather of the modern bag.

We have collected all the data together for you and will tell you about the most interesting and striking facts from the history of the bag.

Century after century: how the bag has changed

The appearance of the bag is a natural process: people needed somewhere to store small items in order to free their hands. The first prototypes of this accessory were attached to sticks, and from about the 5th century. n. e. they were worn tied to the belt.

In the 11th century in Europe, hanging bags served as coin boxes. They put a change for alms. Such products were simple and versatile — «unisex».

Since the XIV century, people began to separate bags for women and men. Men carried tobacco in pouches, and women in small linen or leather bags — toiletries, coins, and other small items. Accessories for ladies began to be made brighter — decorated with stones, fur. The bags of rich women looked especially catchy — they were decorated with colorful gold embroidery, expensive beads at that time.


In the 15th century, ladies developed the habit of hiding a purse from thieves — they began to wear it under a skirt. Sometimes the pouch was not just tied on a string, but also sewn into the dress, which further protected its contents.

In the next century, a frame lock appeared, which is still used in production today (mainly on wallets and retro handbags). Also in the 16th century, the first prototype of the «cross-body» was made. Such bags were equipped with long metal chains or fabric handles and were worn on the shoulder.


In the XVII century there is a breakthrough in the history of bags. The first pocket appeared on the clothes of Louis XIV, and from that time on, men stopped using classic bags for a long time. The exception is small wallets for money, which were still worn in the same voluminous pockets of vests, and then trousers.

At the turn of two centuries, women received a primordially feminine attribute at their disposal and began to invent the widest assortment for themselves: the richer the lady was, the more pretentious and more original her accessory looked. They carried perfume, a booklet with the names of partners at the ball, a mirror, a snuffbox in it.

Since the 18th century, compact velvet handbags, which were worn in the hand on a chain, knitted pouches, and lace «pompadours», appeared in the wardrobes of the representatives of the beautiful state. It is 1790 that is called the date of birth of the first women’s bag of a modern design!

In the next century, women already separate their bags according to their purpose, and rich representatives may have several of them: one for visiting the theater (they kept binoculars in it), the other for the ball (they carried a book with records), the third for dates (it contained mirror, perfume, fan). Satin ribbons, tassels, beads, complex plot drawings, like real embroidered paintings, served as decoration.


In the same century, the first voluminous travel bag with a handle appeared, which was used by both men and women.

The progress in the production of bags in the 20th century is clearly visible. If at the beginning of the century ladies still carried bags of different sizes and decorated by hand, then in the 90s they could choose a bag of any shape (even the most bizarre) and color. In the post-war period, this necessary attribute began to be produced by Fashion Houses in factory conditions and in large quantities.

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Bright spots in the history of the bag:

  • In 1896, the first collection of travel bags from Louis Vuitton was released.


  • In 1923, the zipper was invented, and since that time, handbags have not only been tightened with a strap or fastened with a “kiss”.
  • In 1984, Hermès produced the iconic Birkin bag for model Jane Birkin. Today it sells for $9,000 or more. Moreover, women pre-order it and wait for their “golden” (almost in the literal sense of the word) handbag for about a year!
  • The most famous handbag in the world that has not gone out of fashion for over 60 years is Chanel55. Quilted and with an emblem on the flap, it was originally released for the personal use of Madame Coco Chanel herself.


  • The most expensive and exclusive bag made by hand and listed in the Guinness Book of Records is from the Mouawad Fashion House. Its estimated value is about 4 million dollars, since it is made of pure gold and 4.5 thousand pieces. diamond pebbles.


The history of the origin of the bag is very interesting and mysterious. You can dive into it more fully by reading our next article, which we will dedicate to Bag Museums. Follow the news!

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