Have you seen this bag? Do you own this bag? Are you carrying this bag right now on your shoulder, swinging it to and fro with an élan that says “I could be photographed for Instagram at ANY moment???” If so, I’d love to have a word with you.
At face value, the bag is not bad, when used for its intended purpose. If you grew up in a town with a dedicated health foods store, these bags are likely familiar to you—a vague memory of organic carrots and bottles of wheat germ clacking about in the back of a boxy Volvo. They are great reusable grocery bags, practical and readily available before Baggu cornered the market. They expand to accommodate the contours of a large watermelon, three small oranges, or a pomelo and a wheel of your finest fromage. If you find yourself at an actual farmer’s market and are in need of something to transport your wares back to your beautiful kitchen with a farmhouse sink, the bag works. As your main bag—the one that holds gym clothes, a loose tampon, gum, a book, spare change, and a stack of napkins you took from the bathroom at work —it sucks.
The string bag as a summer bag is being proselytized as THIS SUMMER’S IT BAG is a scam perpetuated by Instagram influencers who stand on their tippy toes in bare feet because it elongates the legs. Like many other summer bag trends, it has a few things going for it — cheap, brand-less, and therefore accessible, gesturing towards a democratization of fashion that doesn’t really exist. The string bag might be for normies as well as fashion people because you can buy it on Amazon, but wearing the string bag with your regular, non-fashion person clothing lacks the same panache. You will NOT look like an influencer, but you will look like a person who lost their actual bag and had to duck into a Whole Foods to buy something to carry your garbage in for ten blocks until you get to the subway.
What irks is their impracticality: Say what you will about the unspeakably-twee trend of toting around a basket like you’re Dorothy Gale or Frances, the bougie badger from a children’s book, but at least a basket has some structural integrity. Put your wallet in that basket and move on, my friend, for your shit will not get lost! A string bag is nothing more than a horrible net that ensnares all of your things in its clutches, requiring you to cordon off your actual possessions into many small bags, thereby DEFEATING THE PURPOSE of one large bag to rule them all.
My friendly yet strident advice to those seeking a Summer Bag: find a tote that you got at an event three years ago, stuffed deep in the recesses under your bed. Marvel at how clean and non-grungy the tote is—fresh, unsullied, pure. There you have it—your summer bag.