The History of: The Tote Bag

The tote bag is possibly the most timeless bag of all time, but it has a long winded history. While the actual invention of the tote bag is unclear, people have had the need to carry their crap for years. So, it’s possible the bag, or some form of it was invented millions of years ago. The tote bag made their first recorded appearance in Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. Not a conspiracy, we swear. As we said, people have stuff to carry and places to be! We decided to take a dive into the history of modern tote bags as we know it:



In 1944, Maine, USA based outdoor store L.L Bean created a sturdy, canvas ice carrier. Back in the day, it was necessary to replace ice blocks in the refrigerator. The “ice bag” was the perfect solution for lugging the ice from the car to the home. This is what kick-started the mainstream tote craze.


L.L. Bean re-introduced the ice bag, but as the new and improved “boat and tote”. Made from the same sturdy canvas, they also spruced it up with coloured trim. (This design has stood the test of time - still as we know it today). Dog not included...


The 80s saw a rise in “fashionable advertising”. Companies began putting their logos on blank tote bags. Famous New York bookstore The Strand put out their first tote in 1980. It was printed in red Helvetica letters and read the store’s name, address, phone number and slogan. Since then they’ve made totes in all sorts of styles, designs and colours. 


IKEA introduced the beloved blue and yellow bag, the Frakta, in 1996. For only $1 you can tote around up to 30 pounds of whatever you please. The Frakta revolutionized the reusable shopping bag game. Searching for an alternative to plastic bags, many stores also created their own version of the reusable tote. 


Since 2014, The New Yorker has been handing out a complimentary tote bag to their subscribers. It became somewhat of the “it” fashion accessory, with the totes popping up all over New York, and globally. There’s even a creepy fan account, that snaps pics of people sporting the tote. 


The tote is the most versatile style of bag. Whether you’re a fancy tote kind of person or a good ol’ canvas toter, the fundamentals remain the same. These are versatile and useful - ready for you to lug your goods around town! 

Here are some totes we love!


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