A trip back

From the earliest stages of civilization, bags and purses were a practical everyday accessory used by men as well as women. A bag was borne as a male accessory as far back in time as Ancient Egypt, with hieroglyphics depicting men carrying pouches around their waists. Ancient people used bags to carry weapons, tools, food, and flint (for fire making). Otzi the Iceman, a 5,300-year-old, well preserved mummy found in the Italian Alps in 1991, had a pouch attached to his belt containing flint, a drill, an awl, and dried fungus.

They were necessary for carrying money and other personal items, since clothes hadn’t yet been fitted out with pockets until towards the end of the 16th century. In the course of the 17th century and with introduction of pockets in clothing designs, bags for men slowly disappeared and from then on, bags belonged almost exclusively to the women’s domain.

The first true testimony of a purse having the role of fashion accessory dates back to medieval times, when noblewomen began to decorate simple bags with elegant embroidery and jewels, to reflect status and wealth. They were not carried just for practical reasons; they also had great symbolic weight representing marriage and betrothal, often embroidered to depict courtly love stories.

The image  shows Game With A Hood on a 1340 aumoniere from Paris. Along with it’s embroidery, and coloured drawstrings, it has many decorative tassels along the bottom and a band added at the upper opening where the double drawstring is. The embroidery shows a fashionably dressed young couple in a garden. It is embroidered with couched gold and silver threads and split stitched for the remainder on linen.

They can be practical and utilitarian or luxurious and frivolous, mass-produced or hand-crafted. For some, it is the ultimate in commodity fetishism, a status symbol that confers belonging. Others get by without one at all. But whether fashionable or functional, the handbag – and what it contains – is also intensely personal. It’s a desire to organise and contain the things that are important to daily life. It is much more than a simple accessory, it contains everything we need, it keeps our secrets, it represents a part of ourselves, it defines and embellishes ourselves.

Upcycling is the reuse and reimagining of otherwise discarded objects or materials in such a way as to create a product of higher quality or value than the original. Upcycling continues the life of the object by keeping it out of landfill and adds to value. Is also more energy-efficient because the materials are not broken down or degraded – instead, they are re-imagined and repurposed.

They can be made of any material imaginable

They are so many styles, from backpacks to clutches, classic tote bags to purses that can be made out of preloved or waste materials. Inner bicycle tubes or leather, cloth or plastic and other synthetic materials, or a combination of several items, all can be refashioned and adopted into a handmade, ethical one-of-a-kind bag. Here we show you a few styles by our designer Selena S Kuzman.