There is a bag for every occasion. If you are out for a soiree, your blingy clutch being your pal. When owning it in the boardroom, however, its the satchel bag. When out for a brunch in your flowy dress none other than the hobo completes your look. The hobo bag always has a special place in any lady’s wardrobe. Ideal for those nonchalant days for when you just want to be comfortable in your own skin. Looking back to its origin, the hobo bag was a flexible bag that formed a crescent-shaped curve between the two ends of the strap. Made with soft, flexible materials such as distressed leather and suede they would tend to slouch. Generally worn on one shoulder, the hobo has a rather casual appearance and is not only practical but also highly fashionable hence perfectly complements a weekend look.
The word hobo emerged in American English and was first noticed around 1890 from the term hoe-boy, which meant ‘farmhand’, or a greeting such as “Ho, boy!” The lack of work during the great depression of the 1930s marked an increase in the number of hobos. Many decided to travel for free by means of a freight train and try their luck elsewhere. They carried their belongings in a bindle which was used as a bag or sack, which inspired the shape of the modern day hobo bag. In modern popular culture, the bindle is portrayed as a stick with cloth or a blanket tied around one end, with the entire array being carried over the shoulder.
As the years passed, the bindle lost its charm and was forgotten in the history of handbags. Handbags soon became a symbol of status and luxury, making the hobo bag less popular and erasing it from handbag culture. People instead opted for beaded, embroidered reticules, minauderies and clutches to flaunt their needlework skills and affluence. It was only during the 1960s when the hippie movement started, that the hobo bags found their way back in vogue and were used extensively by gypsies during the counterculture period.
Fast Forward to the Fashion Revolution:
It had been a while since the hobo bag was in the spotlight. In the past few decades, a sudden wave hit the fashion industry wherein huge bags with a slouch were now trending. This marked the resurrection of the hobo bag. The designers of the fall collection, showcased the style of the 1970s with high waist flares, retro-styled jackets, and psychedelic prints. However, the showstopper was the big slouchy hobo bag.
Chanel’s creative director, Karl Lagerfeld, introduced the Gabrielle hobo bag during the brand’s Spring 2017 runway show. Gabrielle was not just another bag, but the launch of a full line by Chanel. It was a design sensation, merging the slouch of a hobo-style handbag with a structural bottom, resulting in a contrasting silhouette that felt newfangled and exciting. In order to achieve this posh contrast, the handbag was fitted on a rigid thermoformed base, and the body of the bag was crafted from light, supple quilted leather.
Other brands quickly hopped on the bandwagon. Madewell, Rebecca Minkoff, Bottega Veneta and Marc Jacobs introduced their versions of the hobo bag. Many celebrities have opted for hobo bags as compared to the exquisite IT bag for their day look. Sarah Jessica Parker, Anne Hathaway, Jennifer Lopez are among a few celebrities who look casual and chic with their hobo on their shoulder.
Hobo bags have evolved elegantly from being a bindle to a brunch bag. The forms, shapes, and sizes of the hobo has transcended from a basic large bag used by globetrotters to carry their essentials, to tiny petite ones to the bags with an additional long strap to a bag with fringes, weaves and quilts.
Hobo bags have always been about an adventure ready to unfold. Initially, a bag on sticks for traveling hobos, now an arm candy for ladies all around the world to complement their casual attire for the day. A handbag staple every woman swears.