The History Of The Tote Bag
Heavy duty tote bags have become quite commonplace in recent years. From tote bags for weddings to gift tote bags, the canvas, jute, and cotton bags have risen in popularity and found new ways to thrive in the modern world. But just where did they come from? Let's take a look at the timeline of the tote bag.
The 19th Century
The word "tote" meaning "to carry" originated in the 17th century, but it wouldn't become a noun until the 1940s. The famous outdoor brand L.L. Bean invented the large, boxy, heavy duty canvas bags when trying to create an ice bag in 1944; it was designed to help homeowners carry ice from the car to the freezer. During the '50s, it started to be used for a number of other reasons, such as to carry groceries and assist in household chores.
In the 60s, L.L. Bean decided to reinvent their iconic bag with a newer, more feminine shape. Though it retained its recognizable shape, it now featured some elements of style and fashion. The company still relied on canvas; the durable material proved to be as revolutionary as denim, performing a role in both industrial work and fashion. As other designers jumped on the trend, the traditional tote bag became more visible in the streets as a purse or bag rather than a grocery-carrying sack.
Legendary New York City bookstore The Strand decided to get in on the action in the 1980s; their own version of the textile tote was made with cotton duck canvas and became a must-have for everyone seeking comfort, craft, design, usefulness, and beauty. More and more adaptations arose, offering a myriad of totes designed to match all tastes and needs.
Today's totes are just as functional and fashionable as their predecessors. Their affordability has made them a popular choice for a variety of occasions; tote bags for weddings make easy and inexpensive goodie bags, heavy duty canvas totes can replace plastic bags at the grocery store (just one reusable bag equals more than 700 plastic bags), and ordinary totes are perfect for carrying towels and sunscreen to the beach. No matter what you use your tote bags for, you now know that you have L.L. Bean to thank for it!