Why I Want a Cheap-Looking Bag—No, Really

Yes, all the handbags I’m eyeing right now are made to appear “cheap.” But while the timelessness of a structured handbag will never be lost on me, it’s the season’s transparent trend that has me actually thinking it might be better to spend less on a bag this spring, not more. Seems counterintuitive, right? Allow me to explain.

Plastic, PVC, mesh, organza. From reveal-it-all trench coats to Chanel’s ubiquitous clear plastic boots, the transparent trend is everywhere we look these days. And in the digital age, oversharing has become second nature. So when we carry a see-through bag, there’s a good chance that what’s inside actually says something about us. Beyond just plastic and see-through bags, there’s actually a larger trend afoot.

Shopper totes, whether plastic, mesh, clear, or logo-filled, are probably the one trend you can spend over $1000 or under $1 on and still nail. Don’t worry—the trend’s irony isn’t lost on us. Once the throwaway bag you used to carry your groceries home from the store or transport your takeout food, the ubiquitous “Thank You” shopper bag has been reappropriated by designers and rendered in materials as luxurious as python leather. So feel free to shop for the designer version or simply carry around your bodega bag with renewed confidence, even though nailing this trend means going against everything we’ve ever been told about investment-worthy handbags.

We love an affordable trend as much as the next person, but there’s actually another, far more impactful, reason carrying a shopper tote is an important choice. Our shopping habits may be slowly harming the planet. In Los Angeles alone, 10 metric tons of plastic fragments (from bags, bottles, etc.) are carried into the Pacific Ocean every day. So a simple choice to reuse your takeout bag actually has a tangible benefit for the environment. Making sustainability a habit and nailing the season’s coolest trend all in one go? We’re here for it.

Now you have proof to show your friends when they question why you’ve been hoarding the bags from your local bodega. See and shop all the iterations of the bag trend below.

So now you have a transparent bag. Will you be curating which belongings you carry with you or simply revealing it all?