Backpacks are making a comeback, big time.
Purse-style backpacks have been in and out of fashion for a while (think: the nylon Prada number that became a ’90s status symbol, or the much-imitated Mansur Gavriel pack that cemented the style as a chic purse option a few years ago). On the other end of the style spectrum, bulky laptop bags have always been a functional choice for commuters and students. Today’s backpacks, however, offer the best of both worlds—they’re both cute and practical (and laptop compartments are a given).
Plus, backpacks distribute weight more evenly, helping to avoid the back pain that can result from carrying a heavy purse or tote bag on one shoulder. The surging popularity of backpacks coincides with the rise of other comfort-centred trends like athleisure and workplace-appropriate sneakers—and we’re more than happy to get behind it. Ready to make the switch? Here are five cute backpacks we’re seeing everywhere this summer.
Canadian brand Matt & Nat’s bags are made from vegan leather and other materials like recycled nylon, cork and rubber. Matt and Nat’s backpacks are also sleek and stylish and have the added bonus of looking fancier than a standard pack—it’s a great option for less-casual workplaces or even going out.
The Fjällräven Kånken (pronounced “f-yall-rah-ven konken”) was designed in Sweden in 1978 after an increasing number of schoolchildren developed back problems from poorly designed packs. Made out of a durable, lightweight and water-resistant synthetic fibre called Vinylon, this backpack is built to last. It comes in three sizes (mini, original and 15-inch laptop) and is available in a wide array of colours and designs, many of which are special edition. (Oh, and the cute fox logo is also reflective.) One fan told us that she loves her Kånken because of its all-around zipper, which means you can open up the entire front compartment and pack the bag as you would a suitcase.
The Anello rucksack from the Japanese company Carrot was first spotted in Japan in 2005, and quickly spread to Singapore, Hong Kong and the Philippines before making its way to North America. Its wire frame opening gives structure, making it feel as though you’re piling items into a bucket (as opposed to cramming them into a bag). It doesn’t have a laptop pocket, but still easily carries a computer; a colleague told us she likes her Anello because the opening means it’s still fast and easy to get her computer out and do some quick work on the subway. Like the Kånken, this one comes in many different colours and sizes (large, regular, small and mini); aside from the standard polyester-cotton blend, it’s also available in faux leather and nylon.
Founded in 2009, Herschel is a Vancouver-based brand that specializes in classic designs with “modern functionality.” The brand’s most popular bag, the Retreat backpack, is a stylish rendition of a classic mountaineering style. The bag’s top flap secures the main compartment with magnetic clasps hidden under synthetic leather straps, which gives the Herschel a retro outdoorsy look. The bag is also incredibly spacious; the main compartment closes with a drawstring cinch and features a padded laptop sleeve and internal media pocket.
Everlane’s products are made in ethically-run factories and are priced transparently, so that customers know exactly what they’re paying for. Made with water-resistant cotton twill, this backpack—a sleeker take on the Herschel—features a drawstring close and magnetic snap hidden under a strap. It also features an interior padded laptop pouch and two side pockets that are perfect for a water bottle or umbrella. A large front pocket stores items for easy access. One commuter told us that she loves her Everlane because of its minimalist design and, in contrast to the other backpacks shown here, lack of branding. (Plus, she can cram tons of stuff in it without it looking super bulky.)