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Carrying a backpack used to mark you as either a soldier, or too young to to be served in a pub. A grown man carried a briefcase, or perhaps a messenger bag if he worked somewhere creative. Backpacks were for purely practical purposes, the kind of thing you’d wear for either adventuring or to lug textbooks around. Never for style.

Then came the great menswear re-ordering, in which suits evaporated from offices, jeans and trainers were reclassified as smart-casual, and ‘practical’ stopped being the antonym of ‘stylish’. In a world of smartphones, tablets, laptops, their chargers and spare battery packs for all three, a bag that can hold the lot and leave your hands free is a lifesaver. Sometimes literally.

This does not, however, mean that you can just dust off the one you last used during your A Levels. If you’re going to wear a backpack as a grown-up, you need a version that feels a touch more mature.

For starters, that means no sportswear logos – save those for your gym kit, not your work. Second, stick to muted colours. Not only does it make your backpack more adult, it also means it’s more versatile, since black, grey or navy go with pretty much anything.

Third, and often forgot, is the fabric. Instead of nylon or polyester, look to more premium materials like leather and waxed canvas, which will shrug off the rain and any juvenile overtones. And finally, resist the urge to daub obscene slogans across your mate’s backpack during boring meetings. Your boss can do worse than put you in detention.


Words: Tom Banham
Photography: Lola & Pani
Styling: Alice Watt