The history of the bag: travel, elitism, first made from carpet Read more

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Fashion historian Milana Abiyeva in the material for the online magazine «Shipyards» spoke about the origin of the bag.

It’s hard to imagine modern dynamic life without a travel bag, isn’t it? Long weekends in the country, business trips, trips to neighboring cities — in any of these trips, a travel bag is an almost indispensable accessory.

But do you know that the prototype of the modern bag was the bag unfairly forgotten today? You rarely see bags in travel shops these days. But true connoisseurs of this vintage accessory become regulars at flea markets in search of authentic travel bags, which in French sounds like sac de voyage — hence the name.

The emergence of such travel bags is directly related to the development of railway communication, which by the middle of the nineteenth century was so widespread that it unwittingly contributed to the rapid development of the culture of travel — both long and short.

The history of the bag: travel, elitism, first made from carpet

Interestingly, despite its obvious elite flair that the bag has today, it was originally an accessory for the middle class and even the poor. In contrast to the wealthy public, accompanied by servants laden with heavy chests, «mere mortals» could not afford such a luxury, and they did not have much property, and therefore they traveled light.

This gave rise to the need for a compact, durable and convenient travel bag — such a bag was a bag, which at first was made from the surviving parts of old carpets. By the way, in the United States, where traveling enthusiasts quickly fell in love with bags, such bags were called carpet bags. «Carpet bags» were sold everywhere, and cost only one dollar, which was more than an affordable price.

The history of the bag: travel, elitism, first made from carpet

A convenient innovation so quickly went to the masses that in America even the term carpetbagger appeared — that was the name of strangers who arrived in another state or city in order to earn extra money. It was not difficult to recognize them — after all, they always had a bag in their hands.

However, the new bag turned out to be so convenient and practical that manufacturers of travel accessories hurried to present their customers with more refined and durable leather bags — they turned out to be much more reliable and durable than their predecessors, and their cost increased several times.

Thus, by the beginning of the twentieth century, the bag was no longer only a fashionable and convenient travel accessory, but also a symbol of the well-being of its owner. There were a lot of hunters for valuable things on trains and at stations. Therefore, the bags very soon acquired a mortise lock, which allowed them to lock their property with a key.

It is curious that it was usually worn around the neck or hidden in a pocket. Suitcases very quickly fell in love with representatives of respected professions — doctors, lawyers, high-ranking officials not only traveled with suitcases, but also often took them with them when they went to meet with clients or patients.

The history of the bag: travel, elitism, first made from carpet

It is not for nothing that the image of a doctor “from the past” is inextricably associated not only with a white medical coat, but also with a bag containing a lot of glass jars with potions and medical instruments. The most wealthy persons ordered suitcases made of exotic leather and supplemented them with their initials. A lot of attention was also paid to the interior decoration of the bags — as a rule, it was made of smooth and delicate leather of the finest dressing and always had several miniature pockets for small things.

The history of the bag: travel, elitism, first made from carpet

However, bags were not the exclusive prerogative of the representatives of the male half of humanity. Beautiful ladies, going on a trip, also often made a choice in favor of a bag — what could be more convenient than a light, compact and at the same time such a roomy bag? The ladies liked the bag so much that over the years it transformed into a handbag, shaped like a bag — such bags perfectly complemented the new image of an emancipated and mobile woman of the twentieth century.

By the way, today handbags resembling a handbag are experiencing another wave of popularity — such models can be found in fashionable luxury brands, as well as modern creative designers. As for travel bags, they have become an absolute classic that never goes out of style. And just like at the beginning of the twentieth century, a good bag is definitely an elite accessory.


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