Over the past five years, women's backpacks have been reinvigorated on the runways. No longer the exclusive purview of schoolgirls, brands such as Saint Laurent have injected luxurious details like leopard-printed leather. Meanwhile, Alexander Wang and Philip Lim have managed to lend these pieces street credibility and a touch of sophistication, respectively.
Given the diversity of women’s backpacks now on the market, there are also a number of different ways to wear them – whether that’s sourcing inspiration from models off-duty, introducing sporty lines or taking the ladylike route, the contemporary backpack is about as versatile as it is stylish. The best place to start is with your personal style.
Consider your day-to-day
Backpacks seem relatively straightforward, but they actually come in myriad shapes and sizes, which means that choosing the right one is also about understanding where you’ll be wearing it most. A relaxed backpack has a largely different impact to that of a structured, hardware-embellished style, which places it amongst the most versatile of all handbags.
So to mine the field of designer backpacks, it’s important to first consider your day-to-day and the sort of dress code that this might call for. If you often find yourself running around town, then a spacious and unstructured silhouette could be the perfect style for you. Frequent dinner dates, on the other hand, demand a slightly more compact shape with a touch of elegance, while travelling is all about durability and dimensions. Above all though, your best backpack should reflect your personality.
The daily grind calls for model-off-duty style
Over recent seasons, Alexander Wang has extended his knack for downtown cool to the realm of backpacks for women. In fact, the relaxed leather backpack with bold silver hardware has become something of a signature for the designer. When paired with a white T-shirt and black jeans, this backpack acts as the ideal uniform for the daily grind of meetings and errands.
It’s little wonder, then, that these particular designer backpacks have become synonymous with model-off-duty style, quickly adopted by the likes of Hanne Gaby Odiele as she races between go-sees. Now offered in a wide array of colours, textures and hardwares, Alexander Wang backpacks still remain some of the most effortlessly versatile.
Ladylike backpacks befit ladylike events
Stylish backpacks have certainly stretched in popularity, increasing their reach from just streetwear to the likes of eveningwear as well. For dinner and drinks with friends, for example, a streamlined backpack style by DKNY offers a ladylike touch. Take a cue from Miranda Kerr here, who pairs her little black backpack with a fitted dress and broad brimmed straw hat for drinks in the Sydney sunshine. Alternatively, turn to 3.1 Phillip Lim for a similarly feminine touch. Through structured form and distinctive detailing, the designer has managed to create contemporary icons in styles such as the Pashli. So why not play up this elegance by pairing yours with a fluted skirt and a crisp blue shirt for lunch with the girls?
A sporty touch in transit
Travel backpacks in particular lend themselves to a slightly sportier aesthetic, which is perfect for time spent in transit – consider those by Marc Jacobs. Think less gym class gear in favour of a more refined approach, blending streamlined basics with stylishly fluid lines. Chloé SS16 is ripe for inspiration here, with designer Clare Waight Keller presenting a more sophisticated take on classic track pants in luxe silky textures.
The key to this look is taking a slightly louche approach and then toughening it up with structure, by way of a bomber jacket and the leather backpack to match. The dimensions of your carry-all will be especially important when flying – with a medium size proving most practical for zooming through security. However, durable fabrications, above all, will help you to avoid any broken straps or other such disasters en route.
Elevate your backpack game
Personalisation can go a long way towards elevating your backpack game — whether that's through monogramming your bag or indulging in some creative adornment. The ladies' backpacks presented for Burberry SS16 offer a perfect reference here – debuting nylon monogrammed backpacks, the brand demonstrated the incomparable value of making it yours.
These Burberry bags offered a sophisticated graduation from Cher Horowitz’s style in Clueless, with a more neat and elegant take – minus the playground novelty. You could also consider adding charms, scarves or key rings in order to freshen up your own designer backpacks. After all, customising your backpack is all about creative expression.