The fashion accessories we choose every day usually reflect how we perceive ourselves. Those who associate themselves with a specific gender gravitate towards men’s or women’s accessories — as they want the world to put them in that particular category.

And yet, we have certainly seen a huge shift in the bags market, as more and more people refuse to conform to gender-specific traits. No more are handbags or briefcases only for women or men. Now, fashion accessories can be truly genderless, thus giving more people a whole new range of options!

The Bag-Loving Female Gender

At one point in time, bags were already genderless, as both men and women used the same ones to carry things like coins around. These coin purses later evolved into pockets, which became (and still are) a staple for most clothing items.

But as the 18th century came to a close, fashion changed a bit. As women started wearing more form-fitting clothing, having pockets full of various trinkets might not have been ideal anymore. They needed something else — a different accessory — to carry around money and similar items. So, they opted for rather stylish handbags. These bags were small and decorative.

Pouches and pockets were no longer on women’s radars that much, so naturally, the handbag industry boomed. The demand for handbags skyrocketed and the range of designs and styles evolved over time. But as our view of gender changed, so did the idea of having to choose a specific bag (or any other similar carrier) to display our femininity or masculinity to the world.

When you consider everything you know about fashion, you soon realise there is no reason for fashion accessories to be gender-specific. It is our own perspective (and the world’s judgment) that has prevented women and men from opting for more masculine or feminine bags.

As gender roles have evolved, the demand for gender-neutral clothing, children’s toys, and jewelry is evolving as well. Gender fluidity is accepted more in the 2020s than any other era.


Luckily, the world of fashion accessories has stepped up its game, with more gender-neutral bags appearing every day. Totes and shoulder bags first come to mind here. Promotional bag distributor Gareth Parkin notes that sales for genderless styles have been on the rise for about the past 2 years. “The demand stems from several shifts in culture.

For one, many women are identifying less and less with the traditional feminine handbag. Secondly, with mobile phones and tablets now ubiquitous, men are increasingly in need of a way to carry more items,” Mr. Parkin posits. Cross-body totes and messenger bags are particularly popular for businesses looking for merchandise with their logo. There’s rarely anything about them that screams male or female.

Style vs Gender

As a genderless bag market is now our reality, neither men nor women have to focus on finding gender-specific accessories. When you consider how hard it is sometimes to create an outfit and accessorise properly, the neutral bag suits everyone and every outfit.

Of course, women will still opt for more feminine-looking bags if they prefer; the demand for this style of bag has not decreased. If anything, the sheer variety in styles, sizes, colors, luxury brands, and fabrics has increased over the past 30 years. But rather than be limited by their gender, women can now explore their own styles and choose from a myriad of different seemingly genderless bags.

Some of the best examples of genderless bags include the understated cross-body designs, small cotton drawstring bags, and large utility bags like totes. Messenger bags and the small euro style ‘man-purse’ were probably the first on the scene.

Both men and women can comfortably carry these around and pair them with all sorts of outfits, depending on their styles. And each one of these bags can get stuffed to the brim with other genderless things, like books, water bottles, various tech gadgets, and more.

What the Fashion and Bag Industry Has to Say


Still, it remains obvious that bag brands are leaning into this new genderless fashion. They’re playing around with different bag styles and giving them both masculine and feminine features — or none at all.

This has made handbags of various styles available to everyone, no matter how they see themselves or how they want to dress. And what great luck it is that we live in a day and age when that’s possible!

Gender rules are meant to be broken because they shouldn’t have existed in the first place. Only style matters when it comes to bags, so showing a priority for any gender could be a disastrous move for any brand out there.

And as always, the goal is to attract customers with the latest trends, so having many bag styles in your offer gives you an advantage over other companies.

Does Everyone Accept Genderless Bags?

It’s clear that we don’t have to go for gender-specific bags if we don’t have to. However, there are still some major differences between men and women when it comes to carrying bags around.

The women’s choice in the matter is somewhat limited, as most of their outfits rarely include sizable pockets. Men, however, are still battling gender demons these days.

Though more men favour handbags today, some still try to avoid reusable canvas bags. Even if they’re worried about the environment and want to stop using plastic carriers, there’s something about these bags that makes them believe they will look too feminine to the outside world.

It is all nonsense, of course. Throughout history, both men and women have switched their styles around so many times. In fact, even some clearly feminine accessories, like heels, were once a part of a man’s wardrobe.

In the end, what truly matters in terms of sales is that you know how to examine consumer behaviours to find out more about their needs. Right now, the keyword is genderless — but who knows what we’ll have to adjust to in the future!