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THE MESSENGER BAG – A Short History

Until the invention of pockets during the Renaissance, the human race (once it had evolved sufficiently to own and value possessions) had to rely on some form of a bag to carry their essentials around with them. Depending on where they lived and at what time in history, these bags came in all shapes, sizes, and materials. The latter included, leather all types of fabric and even metal.  And of course, the more prosperous the owner the more flamboyant the bag - adorned with fine fabrics, precious metals, jewels, and beads. And the women’s bags were just the same as well!

Whether it’s a Satchel, Sling Bag, Carryall or whatever they have been called, throughout history, different circumstances around the world have required that the messenger bag take on different forms. The underlying features were its comfort, ease of wearing and security for its contents. So, from Roman Legionnaires right up to billionaires in Silicon Valley, the Messenger Bag (in one shape or another) has found an important place in the history of human accouterments.

One particularly important recent influence was the advent of the Pony Express in the 1860’s. Skilled horsemen rode hundreds of miles without stopping across the USA delivering mail, newspapers, small parcels and telegrams – the start of long-distance communication. Some bags were slung across the horse and others – perhaps the forerunners to the modern-day version were lighter, with several compartments and were weatherproof and could be closed securely whether they were over the shoulder or cross-body designs. Practicality has always been a major feature with Messenger Bags.

Obviously, the world wars played a major influence in their evolution and popularity. Medics and Officers wore them to carry their supplies or important documents. Because Messenger bags were so comfortable, securely unobtrusive to wear and allowed both hands to be free, different designs evolved in leaps and bounds for the varied military uses. After WW2 in Europe, mail carriers, bicycle messenger boys, and school children embraced them, adding even more purpose designed versions and sizes.

In the late 1950’s American fashion designers (such as the De Martini Globe Canvas company) began focussing on the plentiful selection of vintage styles and began to promote Messenger Bags as a fashion statement. Their original designs are still popular today. Unlike the fickleness of anything fashionable, Messenger Bags are becoming more popular and incredibly varied. This is driven by necessity due in part to the quality and quantity of technological gadgets and their support pieces that we all carry around with us today; not only to work but wherever we go. Our hands can be free, and our $1000 smartphone, wallet with all those cards and our car keys safe. And what’s even better, we don’t even know we are carrying them – so subtle is the Messenger Bag

Current day manufacturing techniques now provide us with a plethora of designs, combinations of materials and “instant” vintage finishes. From “brand new” antique to the latest colours, patterns, and mix of soft synthetic materials. There is a messenger bag shape for every, man, woman, child, and occasion. And some of these “modern” designs with their features are so clever and practical that many of the products can be worn by either men or women. And that is why we have used “Unisex” in our descriptions so often  

 And in 2018, why not?

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