The fashion crime of rucksacks over suits is growing in the Square Mile

The fashion crime of rucksacks over suits is growing in the Square Mile

A model showcases designs by Sand

A couple of years ago an American woman caused an international incident when she admitted to covertly chucking her husband’s cargo shorts in the bin, such was her dislike of them. 

The following week was littered with opinion pieces about the maligned shorts, from other women owning up to doing the same to loud-and-proud cargo short wearers defending their sartorial choices. I err on the side of “get them in the bin” but it’s not a hill I’m willing to die upon. 

My line in the sand is men who wear tatty rucksacks over a suit. This isn’t a new phenomenon but it’s something I’ve noticed more in recent weeks: grey-suited men wearing tired looking sports backpacks or, worse, those corporate-branded ones you sometimes get free at conferences. Why go to the effort of wearing a suit if you’re going to walk around looking like an overgrown schoolboy? 

Hybrid working means that, more than ever, we’re expected to lug around all of the accoutrements of office life, from laptops to gym kits. This on-the-move lifestyle necessitates concessions to comfort and practicality – even Goldman Sachs has loosened its notoriously stringent dress code. 

So what’s a man to do? A decade ago the messenger bag had its moment in the sun but now it just screams “I’m an intern!” Briefcases, portfolios and duffle bags have an undeniable charm but can be a strain on the arms if you have a long commute. 

“While longevity, elegance, security and office-ready functionality are given across professions, a man should ultimately look for a work bag that supports his lifestyle,” says Carl Friedrik (carlfriedrik.com) co-founder Niklas Oppermann. 

“Take a barrister. PDF files have their place, but they would also struggle to function without copious amounts of paper documents. The classic briefcase is a natural choice because it functions as a hardwearing safehouse for said documents. An investment banker, on the other hand, might let off steam at lunchtime by going to the office gym. A larger, smart duffel offers greater space to accommodate his change of clothes and shoes.” 

Another option is to just buy a decent backpack. “Backpack designs have evolved to the point where they meet both the functional and aesthetic requirements of urban office life,” says Oppermann. 

“Most modern backpacks now incorporate padded laptop compartments to transport electronic devices to and from the workplace safely, not to mention other handy organisational features like pen slots, smaller tech pockets and so on. 

“Then there’s the question of meeting the suave dress code ingrained in City life. Contemporary backpacks are increasingly sleek, clean-lined and understated — the perfect accompaniment to the suit. A sophisticated leather backpack is certainly not going to cause murmurs in the office or prompt a disapproving glance from clients.” 

I concur: if we accept that the backpack has become a mainstay of office life, then it’s time for City workers to step up. You wouldn’t go to work wearing a crappy pair of shoes; what you wear on your back is just as important. 

Wives, husbands, partners and friends take heed: if someone you love is walking the streets with an Accenture-branded backpack, do them a favour and chuck it in a skip under cover of darkness.

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