Ask Esquire: Can I Carry A Man Bag?

If King James can do it, maybe you can.

From the mail bag: "Hey Esquire, what do you think about LeBron’s man bag? Cool? Not cool?" 

We’ve discussed the conundrum of the man bag before, but let us do it again because the basketball superstar started a minor Internet fire when he made the ultimate boss move at the start of this month. 

King James made you do it
Frustrated by a reporter asking about the bonehead move of a teammate during Game 1 of the NBA Finals, LeBron James walked out of a post-game press conference last week. But what made the get-up-and-go situation even more boss was that, aside from wearing the shrunken suiting of Thom Browne, the giant did not forget to huff off with his designer bag.

That structured top-handle bag has been identified as the Mr. Thom, a doctor’s bag in alligator leather (of course, custom), but the bigger question is what’s inside? 

What could have been so important that it needed to be stored inside a sizable receptacle and carried into a press conference? Gum for fresh breath? Car keys and a credit card? A kitten to relieve stress? Pies or pizza and sandwiches and french fries that LeBron says, in an interview with Business Insider, he eats post-game?

We’re guessing the bag is empty. That signature suit-shorts-socks combo with a pair of sunglasses and the bag was for a look, and it made you look. Like the coordinated suiting of the Cavs and the recent wave of NBA players dressed in runway threads for their pre-game walk, it was a statement that said, "I care"' or "We are one'' or "Got a new bag!'' (Or it could really contain cats, which, one presumes, he let out at some point.)  


Throw it in the bag (or not)
Now, the carrying of the bag. Yes? Weird? Cool? Nope?


Some men opt out of carrying a bag, because they have learned to pare things down, or have nothing much to lug around, or, if he is a one-percenter who has an assistant, who is a human bag. 

Ask yourself this: Do you really need to bring your extra pair of USB cable, three power banks, and bullet journal everywhere you go? Probably not. Leave the bag at home. 

Now, if you are without a bag, it can become troublesome, because a regular human person only has two hands and 10 fingers that can hold, hook, hug, or clasp the detritus of life. It is so inconvenient. Try pressing the elevator button while balancing a pile of magazines and a Subway sandwich (you were hungry) in your arms. Hard, eh?

Actually, the very scientific process called Looking Around In Our Office yields this observation: There are more men carrying bags than men twiddling the thumbs of their bag-less hands.

And the bags that they do carry are in styles that won’t raise an eyebrow: the undying backpack, the messenger bag or soft briefcase, or the assault-to-our-eyes laptop bag that came free with their laptops. 

Our two cents on these safe choices: Get a grown-up backpack or messenger bag. The soft briefcase in leather is an eternal option for work. And that soulless free laptop bag should just go back in the box. 


Consider these handsome stuff holders
The problem arises when you veer away from the above. The motes (man totes), murses (man purse), and mbags (uh, man bag) are tricky. They remind you of something. The concern about Lebron’s bag is that top-handles look similar to lady bags.  

Nevertheless, these murses and motes are becoming more popular as seen in the proliferation of male celebs and athletes wearing them today and the steady influx of styles from designer runways. 


And, anyway, who has the right to say what you can or cannot wear (us!) or what’s too girly (not us!) when we live in the so-woke times of today? What to do? Get these: 

1|  Thom Browne Mr. Thom Bag
Of course, the same style that LeBron carries, but in less ostentatious pebble-grain leather. 


2| Hermès Bolide 1923 Baseball Bag
Is the baseball reference manly enough for you? 

3| Gucci Kingsnake Print Leather Duffle
How about we supersize the top-handle and make it a weekender? Also, snakes. 

4| Coach Bleecker Leather Cabin Bag
The hand-done bag in glove-tanned leather is reminiscent of cigars, motorcyles, and wood cabins.  

5| Loewe Puzzle XL Bag
If you don’t have the balls to carry a top-handle bag, this is an over-the-shoulder situation with an interesting cuboid construction. 

6| Givenchy Hell’s Fire Pandora Messenger Bag
This has only one top handle that, when used, tilts the bag on the side of your body in an ever so cool way.

7| Bottega Veneta Sunset Intreciatto VN Belt Bag
If you want to try out what’s happening now, consider the luxe iteration of the belt bag. Wear across your body (like the cool kids).  

8| Louis Vuitton President Briefcase
...Or go the other way care of a handsome, old-school briefcase.

9| Zara Smart Bowling Bag
Here’s an accessible option in a throwback shape. 

10| Mango Pebbled Weekend Bag
This looks more expensive than it is. A keeper.  


One more thing before we go
About those formal shorts: You shouldn’t even ask. If you are not a cute toddler whose parents are William and Kate or a basketball superstar who is at least six feet and eight inches tall and has enough star power and confidence to deflect all the gif-makers, be wary of this piece of clothing. Stick to trousers please.

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About The Author
Clifford Olanday
Senior Fashion Editor, Esquire Philippines
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