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DUDES BE SPENDING

One in five luxury handbags are man bags

Of the many, many man bags that marched the runways at recent menswear fashion weeks in London, Milan, and Paris, the whale sighting at Thom Browne may have been the best. What appeared to be a luxe, black leather bowling bag from the front, tapered down to a tail with two padded flukes. A gold zipper across the front made its mouth.

AP Photo/Thibault Camus
A whale of a business.

To wit, these bags are more than mere accessories. At present, man bags—whether duffels, totes, clutches, backpacks, or whales—represent nearly a fifth of the luxury handbag business, according to estimates from Euromonitor.

That’s because they don’t come cheap. According to Euromonitor’s estimates, the market value for man bags has more than doubled over the past decade, with men now spending in the neighborhood of $6 billion per year on luxury bags. But the quantity being purchased over the same period has grown rather modestly: just under four percent, on average, per year over the same period—less than half as fast as the growth in revenue. Simply put: guys are shelling out more money per bag.

Quality over quantity, gents.

Some of this may be down to post-metrosexual men who are accustomed to more fashionably ambitious carryalls than the briefcases of yesteryear, and willing to spend big on one. But it’s also likely to do with the climbing costs of raw materials. Thanks to a shrinking herd of US cattle, the price of leather is surging, and high-quality hides are essential to constructing many of these bags. Both LVMH and Kering (which owns Gucci, Balenciaga, and Bottega Veneta) have invested in crocodile management, alligator farms, and tanneries to help control the quality—and presumably, the price—of more exotic skins.

And with accessories making up nearly 30% of the luxury market overall, it pays for those companies to guard their bag margins. While the estimated 5.9 million luxury man bags purchased in 2014 may pale in comparison with women’s 25.6 million, the men’s market looks less volatile, performing better during the recent recession but not quite as well during the upturn:

Sales of man bags are less volatile than those of women’s handbags.

Between snorkel-embossed Hermés satchels, technicolor Burberry totes, and pixellated plaids at Dior Homme, here is a selection of the man bags designers sent down the autumn 2015 runways. Louis Vuitton suggests you double up.

Armani

AP Photo/Luca Bruno
Armani. Fall/Winter 2015 collection.
AP Photo/Luca Bruno
Armani. Fall/Winter 2015 collection.

Bottega Veneta

AP Photo/Luca Bruno
Bottega Veneta. Fall/Winter 2015 collection.
AP Photo/Luca Bruno
Bottega Veneta. Fall/Winter 2015 collection.

Burberry Prorsum

Burberry Prorsum
Burberry Prorsum. Fall/Winter 2015 collection.
Burberry Prorsum
Burberry Prorsum. Fall/Winter 2015 collection.
Burberry Prorsum
Burberry Prorsum. Fall/Winter 2015 collection.

Canali

AP Photo/Antonio Calanni
Canali. Fall/Winter 2015 collection.
AP Photo/Antonio Calanni
Canali. Fall/Winter 2015 collection.

Dior Homme

AP Photo/Jacques Brinon
Dior. Fall/Winter 2015 collection.
AP Photo/Jacques Brinon
Dior. Fall/Winter 2015 collection.

Dolce and Gabbana

AP Photo/Luca Bruno
Dolce and Gabbana. Fall/Winter 2015 collection.

Fendi

AP Photo/Luca Bruno
Fendi. Fall/Winter 2015 collection.

Gucci

AP Photo/Antonio Calanni
Gucci. Fall/Winter 2015 collection.
AP Photo/Antonio Calanni
Gucci. Fall/Winter 2015 collection.

Hermés

AP Photo/Jacques Brinon
Hermés. Fall/Winter 2015 collection.

Kenzo

AP Photo/Christophe Ena
Kenzo. Fall/Winter 2015 collection.

Louis Vuitton

AP Photo/Francois Mori
Louis Vuitton. Fall/Winter 2015 collection.
AP Photo/Francois Mori
Louis Vuitton. Fall/Winter 2015 collection.
AP Photo/Francois Mori
Louis Vuitton. Fall/Winter 2015 collection.
AP Photo/Francois Mori
Louis Vuitton. Fall/Winter 2015 collection.
AP Photo/Francois Mori
Louis Vuitton. Fall/Winter 2015 collection.
AP Photo/Francois Mori
Louis Vuitton. Fall/Winter 2015 collection.

Moschino

Reuters/Suzanne Plunkett
Moschino. Fall/Winter 2015 collection.

Paul Smith

AP Photo/Jacques Brinon
Paul Smith. Fall/Winter 2015 collection.

Prada

Prada
Prada. Fall/Winter 2015 collection.

Salvatore Ferragamo

AP Photo/Luca Bruno
Salvatore Ferragamo. Fall/Winter 2015 collection.

Thom Browne

AP Photo/Thibault Camus
Thom Browne. Fall/Winter 2015 collection.

Valentino

AP Photo/Jacques Brinon
Valentino. Fall/Winter 2015 collection.
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