What Can a Tote Bag Be Used for in Fashion and Function?


Tote bags are timeless. They’re a part of modern-day living, giving consumers an easy way to stylize outfits while often helping brands promote themselves. There’s a lot to know about tote bags and how to maximize the ‘tote bag’ look, and it all starts with understanding what a tote bag is used for.

Tote bags, to some degree, have been around since the 1600s. The modern-day tote bag was popularized in the late 1940s in the United States and was designed to carry ice. Since that time, the overall design of the tote bag hasn’t changed to any significant degree.

A tote bag is typically large and meant to carry lots of things. It doesn’t have any fasteners. Handles are sown into a tote bag, parallel on each top side. The bag is meant as a carry-all. Shopping or running errands is easy when a bag the size of a tote is with you.

Tote bags can look like anything. They can be personalized into branded tote bags with a promotional message. Some tote bags are very luxurious and then, others are dressed down. They can come in any wearable material. There’s a tote bag out there for everyone. There truly is!

Here is a comprehensive guide on what can a tote bag be used for:

1. High-End Totes v. Cloth Tote Bags

Tote bags are worn on runways just like they are in the streets of any major city. High-end fashion circles appreciate canvas, eco-friendly tote bags and these trends have slowly made their way down to general consumers.

No matter what your personal style is, you may either prefer a high-end tote or a less-expensive cloth bag.

2. What Does A Tote Bag Represent?

A tote bag sends a message. It can be one of environmental sustainability. Your tote bag may include political symbolism or socio-political expressions. They can be adorned with pop culture symbols or corporate branding. Just like you can a hat or a t-shirt, you can print anything on a tote.

3. Where Can I Buy A Tote Bag?

Tote bags are sold everywhere, from eCommerce to grocery stores, retail, sports teams, post-secondary institutions, and all sorts of brands. Corporate brands treat totes like a branding opportunity. It gives them something to put their logo on.

It’s also possible to make your own at home with the right materials. There are several online tutorials that show how to cut, arrange, stitch, and waterproof a tote bag.

4. What Is A Tote Bag Made From?

Most tote bags are made from cotton or linen. They’re made from the same type of canvas materials that are used in sails, tents, and painting. They are usually treated with a waterproof coating which is what makes a tote bag so great to have rain or shine.

The material is flexible, lightweight, and holds ink well from prints. Unlike other materials, you can rest assured that tote prints aren’t going to bleed or flake over time.

5. How Long Does A Tote Bag Last?

It depends on the type of tote bag you have, as it relates to how long it lasts. A 5 oz material will not last like a 10 oz material tote bag will. The latter can last years. If it’s a plain cotton tote bag, they’re cheaper, lightweight, and if not handled with care can expire quicker than canvas.

A canvas tote bag is weaved differently and is meant to carry heavier items without ripping. A quality-made tote bag can last five years or more.

6. How Do I Fix My Tote Bag?

Tote bags can encounter all sorts of damage over time – holes, ripped handles, and more. Handles are the most common part of a tote that usually requires fixing. Some use fabric glue. Stitching the handles back into your bag are far better.

Fabric glue works temporarily but won’t last. To fix a hole, you just need a thick patching material put inside and then bonded through stitching or fabric glue.

7. How Do I Clean A Tote Bag?

Tote bag cleaning instructions should be located on the inside of the bag. If your tote has embroidery, paint, prints, or any sewed-on or glued decorations, be cautious. Some totes are machine-washable and others have to be hand-washed.

Using cool water is probably a better choice than hot water as well. As long as the instructions inside your tote are followed, there shouldn’t be any issues.

8. Tote Bags as Grocery Bags

Tote bags have been acclaimed for being an alternative to environmentally-harmful plastic grocery bags. They have, however, come under recent attack. A 2011 study found a cotton tote bag would have to be used 131 times before it was more eco-friendly than a single-use plastic grocery bag.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, they’ve also been targeted as a potential bacteria carrier. Regardless, totes have proven to be an increasingly important bag type in grocery stores.


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