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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Peter Bevan

Best black leather tote bags for everyday wear

Left to right: Paris Fashion Week Street Style Spring/Summer 2023, Cos, and Mulberry

(Picture: Imaxtree & Press images)

Whilst the term ‘tote bag’ may conjure visions of countless unsubstantial, cotton bags you have stuffed inside one another, all eagerly awaiting their next trip to the supermarket, we’re here to tell you it’s an accessory that can be so much more than that.

Wave goodbye to accidentally knocking people out of the way on the tube with a rucksack, bid farewell to trying to cram everything in to a small crossbody that is just too small, and part ways with the countless bags for life that are most definitely taking up too much space at home. Instead, give your life an upgrade with a smart, elegant leather tote.

The backpack’s cooler sibling, a sturdy, roomy, well constructed design is the perfect everyday bag. With ample room for a laptop, notebook and gym kit, as well as extra space for all of the essentials (like your fragrance and sunglasses, naturally), it will see you from AM to PM in ultimate style.

Street style at Paris Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2023 (Imaxtree)

When choosing the right one for you, there’s a bunch of factors to take into account. The best designs will stand up of their own accord rather than slumping in a heap on the floor, have top handles that allow for easy-shoulder-carrying and feature extra zipped pockets for valuables.

As you’re likely to be using it on the daily, it’s important that you invest in a style that works with almost any outfit. Opting for a classic black design, whether it’s full grain leather, mock-croc, or patent, is the safest bet, and is more likely to flourish in your collection for years to come.

So, we’ve scouted the best options on the market, from luxury to high street, so every taste and budget is covered.

Alexander McQueen Women’s The Bow in Black

A unique design, Alexander McQueen’s bow bag is a sculptural statement that will turn heads in the most stylish of crowds.

With a magnetic closure, suede lining, and removable zip pouch that has a slot for credit cards, it has all the elevated design details you could ask for.

Buy now £1490.00, Alexander McQueen

Mango Leather shopper bag

At £79.99 for a real leather style, Mango’s design is a wallet-friendly option that still packs a stylish punch. Big enough for a laptop alongside all of your other day-to-day belongings, it’s a no-brainer.

Buy now £79.99, Mango

Demellier The New York

For an added touch of je ne sais quoi, Demellier’s croc-embossed leather tote takes the classic bag to the next level. With gold logo and hardware, a popper closure, and a cotton lined interior, it’s a luxury purchase that’s totally worth it.

Buy now £495.00, Demellier

Whistles Amara Tote Bag

If you’re in the market for quality leather goods at a more affordable price point than the luxury brands, Whistles is a happy middle ground.

With three spacious compartments, a zip-closure middle pocket for your valuables, it’s crafted using responsible fabrics for a style that will stand the test of time.

Buy now £199.00, Whistles

JW Anderson Bumper Leather Tote Bag

London-based luxury label JW Anderson never fails to impress with its selection of accessories - and this bag is a case in point.

Designed to a bubble silhouette with the brand’s signature tubular borders, it’s a curvaceous design that has ample space for all of your posessions.

Buy now £890.00, MatchesFashion

Aspinal of London Zipped Regent Tote Deep Shine Black Croc

If you’re partial to mock-croc, British heritage leather goods label Aspinal of London has you covered. Perennially chic, it will elevate even the most casual of outfits.

Buy now £395.00, Aspinal of London

Zara Leather Maxi Tote Bag

The largest style in this edit, Zara’s tote will take you from the office to a weekend away in style.

Boasting a width of 52cm and a height of 38cm, there’s ample space for your work necessities as well as a couple of outfit options and toiletries.

Buy now £119.00, Zara

Mulberry Bayswater Tote Black Small Classic Grain

An iconic Mulberry style, the Bayswater is a celebrity favourite, spotted on the arms of Kate Moss, Meghan Markle and Alexa Chung to name a few.

Featuring the British brand’s well-known Postman’s Lock hardware, it’s a timeless addition to any bag collection.

Buy now £750.00, Mulberry

Cos Leather Shopper Bag

With metal feet, a gold-tone zip closure and a structured silhouette, Cos’ design feels super-luxe - and even has adjustable straps should you want to switch between carrying it by the handle or nestling it beneath your arm.

Buy now £225.00, Cos

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