Although part of a modern look, tote bags have been used as handbags since at least 1944, with the launch of L.L.Bean’s "ice bag." The Maine retailer, then largely known for rugged field coats and hunting shoes, had introduced a big, durable canvas bag that was initially intended to carry firewood or ice. In those days, to keep produce and other foods cool in refrigerators, consumers had to regularly replace the blocks of ice that were doing all the work in their bulky appliances. There was no better bag to help haul big chunks of ice from the trunk of your car to your front door and, subsequently, to your kitchen.
Years later, during the 1960s, L.L.Bean's Boat and Tote was an overhauled structured canvas version of the ice bag. Tested to lug up to 500 pounds, the Boat and Tote became a bestseller. Also during the 1960s, American designer Bonnie Cashin created the Cashin Carry for Coach. Cashin was Coach's first lead designer, and she liked leather, large pockets and earth tones. Her modern interpretation of the tote bag introduced a touch of elegance to this increasingly ubiquitous accessory.
In the subsequent decades, more brands debuted their own iterations of the tote bag, from Tory Burch’s Perry leather tote bag to Louis Vuitton’s Neverfull.
Pay tribute to this long and interesting history by browsing the vintage and modern tote bags at 1stDibs. From classic medium-sized Louis Vuitton matte black Crocodile Capucines tote bags to authentic Desa 1972 structured shoulder bags, our large selection of tote bags offers something for special occasions as well as everyday needs.