History Of The “Tote”

By Kikemonk
March 10, 2022

The origin of the word tote is “to carry” with roots dating back to the 17th century. In the West African language, Kikonho, the word “tota” means to “pick up”. In Kimbundu, the word “tuta” means “carry;load” and in Swahili “tuta” means “pick up,carry”. Did you know that the first tote bags were originally worn around the waist? 

Back in the day, if your tote was embellished or embroidered, it was a status symbol of wealth. In 1940, LL Bean created their first tote bag to carry Ice and Wood. This practical canvas bag was made to last – it’s now known as a boat bag (because of its broad shape).

In the 1960s, Bonnie Cashin started a tote collection called Cashin Carry tote bag which is now known as Coach. Her collection was spacious, colorful, beautiful, modern and made of leather.

Jane Birkin (Yes, the Birkin is Hermes’ version of a tote) was on a flight in 1983 from Paris sitting next to the CEO of Hermes. Jane Birkin explained her difficulty finding the perfect bag that’s larger than a Kelly but smaller than carry-on luggage and thus was the beginning of the Birkin bag. The first high end designer bag was the Birkin in design and functionality. The Birkin wasn’t an initial success due to the cost, but it became a must-have bag from the 1990’s.As we now know, there are over 200,000 Birkin bags in circulation. 

The tote bag has evolved throughout the years. However, its purpose remained the same: to carry all your essentials.

Here are our top picks for tote bags:

 Chanel Vintage Shopper Tote


Chanel Deauville Tote


Prada Tote


Gucci Soho Tote



Dior Book Tote



Goyard Saint Louis XL Tote



Bag addicts, what is your go-to tote bag?