Sacoches rise, handbags shrink

Photo by Akira Miura

A man wears a sacoche.

By Akira Miura / Special to The Japan NewsYoung people today hate to carry things. They prefer going out empty-handed if possible.

Middle-aged or elderly people will likely think, alright, this jacket has a lot of pockets, so you can put your wallet, coin purse, card case, handkerchief, writing tools, train pass and smartphone in there, but it seems young people don’t even want to wear a jacket.

Shirts with collars are also largely out; the young prefer T-shirts.

I often see young men with a wallet or a smartphone carelessly shoved in the back pocket of their jeans. They don’t need to worry that they may fall out; they rarely do. That said, there are only two back pockets. For a long time, waist pouches were the thing for people who don’t want to have anything in their hands or pockets. But waist pouches don’t look cool — they remind one of soldiers or middle-aged Japanese tourists sightseeing overseas. Cross-body bags, or other bags worn close to one's body, look slightly better, but they don’t look particularly stylish either.

Then sacoches came along in around 2017, and they’ve become very popular. A sacoche is a thin, small shoulder bag that comes in various types. Usually made of polyester, they have one opening with a fastener; the shoulder strap is merely a string. It’s remarkably light and has no solid presence. Sacoches are mostly produced and sold for men, although more and more young women are starting to carry them.

Yet it seems handbags are still must-have items for women. They were growing bigger and bigger at one point, and women would put so many things in tote bags, their items were practically sticking out of them.

These days, handbags are getting smaller and smaller. Men and women have apparently gotten tired of carrying heavy bags. In other words, their lifestyles are growing more positive than ever.

It’s not positive at all to carry large bags when you go to work or have fun, saying you want to bring this or need that.

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  • Photo by Akira Miura

    A small shouder bag is preferred these days.

I think future pundits will say this positive lifestyle has been pushed forward by sneakers and smartphones.

Smartphone payments are spreading at a feverish pitch nowadays. Various types of cards, paper money and coins that make your wallet fat may eventually become things of the past. Once lifestyles become more casual and positive, it’s hard to imagine this will be reversed. So what kind of “evolution” are we going to see next? In any case, it won’t be a favorable one for the fashion industry.

I’m sure that manufacturers of wallets, coin purses, handbags and tote bags must be clutching their heads in angst.

— Miura is the editor at large of WWD JapanSpeech

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