Fashion / Trend

Men’s favourite new accessory? A Country Road canvas tote

Men's favourite new accessory? A Country Road canvas tote

It can all be traced back to Jacob Elordi

At the same time as the Australian actor became a household name with his role as Nate Jacobs in Euphoria, and then cemented himself as a full-blown next-gen movie star in Priscilla and Saltburn, people began to notice Elordi could not only act, was not only 6′5 with a razor-sharp jawline and a love of dogs, but he also had style. He was dubbed by the internet as ‘babygirl’, alongside Paul Mescal, Harry Styles and Pedro Pascal, beloved for all of the above, but perhaps most notably because of his affinity for wearing a woman’s purse. 

Elordi was spotted slinging designer handbags, including CHANEL cross-bodys, Louis Vuitton duffels, and Bottega Veneta’s Andiamo bag, over his arm so many times there are articles, Reddit threads and (of course) TikToks dedicated to documenting each moment. The internet's obsession eventually prompted a look into the archives, wherein resurfaced paparazzi photos of Elordi from 2021 were found and subsequently went viral.

In the series of images, the actor is seen leaving the gym while rifling around in his bag of choice that day: none other than a humble canvas tote by Australia’s own Country Road. "He is even abiding by the unspoken rule of only ever carrying it with your arm through the two short straps and never, ever using the long strap that it was probably designed to be carried by," points out a woman on TikTok


@ragsnagjacob elordi begged for the country road duffle bag for christmas♬ original sound - mia griffiths


What's even stranger than a year-old gym outfit being worshipped online, is that since Elordi’s newly discovered endorsement of the mid-2010s staple, it seems as though every man in Sydney has shopped a Country Road tote. "They’re everywhere," my friend Greta DM’d me after I replied to a photo she shared on her Instagram Stories of the back of a bloke swinging a black logo tote along the street.

"The crazy thing is, I’ve never seen a girl with one," she added. "Only ever men. They’re all really hot, too."

While Aussie men may only just be discovering the practicality of the Country Road tote, millennial women need no introduction to this accessory. Way back when, Country Road tote bags were the ultimate status symbol: slung over one’s shoulder before a sleepover with the girls, taken to school, half-empty, just for the sake of carrying it as a schoolbag, shoved with jumpers, snacks, sneakers: the heavier the better.

The bag being in its renaissance era — albeit with a dedicated new male fanbase likely totally oblivious to its long history with their counterparts — is not only nostalgic, but a breath of fresh air in a climate made up almost exclusively of designer brands. 

During its initial rein, in the early to mid-2010s, the most enviable fashion could be was a Karen Walker charm necklace, or anything by Georgia Alice. It was a Casio gold watch, Jeffrey Campbell Lita booties and the Deadly Ponies handbag my ex-boyfriend bought me, then tried to take back when we broke up. Without fashion democratised yet by the internet, one's personal style was found and defined through community, the magazines you'd buy and the music you listened to. Desired brands were, for the most part, local. But today, luxury fashion has become so normalised physically and digitally, it feels as though it’s not just Elordi, but everyone owns multiple designer handbags, shoes, and clothes. 



View this post on Instagram


A post shared by SSENSE (@ssense)


SSENSE’s clever social media marketing strategy has us all shopping its site non-stop. Trends are being recycled on TikTok almost daily, secondhand shopping has suddenly become designer vintage shopping (equally, if not more, expensive). On Substack, every editor owns High Sports $1,316 sweatpants and Instagram is full of influencers and celebrities wearing new designer pieces every day. Sure, they may be gifted, loaned or at the very least heavily discounted — Elordi himself revealed his collection of designer bags were sent to him unprompted — but that doesn’t take away from the onslaught of imagery making us hate our own wardrobes and crave newness.

Because of our para-social relationship to celebrities, we see Dua Lipa, Rihanna and Bella Hadid wearing a brand, then feel as though we can – and should – shop it, too. A prime example of such is when I tried on a vintage Comme des Garçons dress in L.A. last year, looking for something to wear to a sure-to-be-chic fashion friend’s wedding in Italy that summer. Despite falling in love, putting $2,000 on my Amex for a wedding that wasn’t mine was too far. I left the shop after WhatsApp-ing photos of my heartbreak to a few friends who were poised ready to either encourage or discourage the purchase pending which way the pendulum swung.

A few months later, the dress was sold — to Kendall Jenner, who posed in the sun wearing it in photos shared to Instagram. It was the shake-up I needed: When you think you should be going into debt to buy and wear something a millionaire later shops, you realise the problem with the way capitalism has come for our closets. 

Thankfully, it appears the tide is shifting. Phoebe Philo’s first collection may have sold out immediately, but its prices prompted many op-eds about the state of luxury fashion — and who could actually afford to buy the pieces. “How can absurd luxury prices be justified?” asked the New York Times, citing data company EDITED, which reported average luxury prices are up by 25 percent since 2019. A few months later and buying a pair of $5,200 leather pants released in Philo’s second drop is deemed insane, even by those who have long loved the designer. Fashion journalist Lauren Sherman of Puck (formerly BoF) wrote on a recent newsletter, “Even if one can afford them, it would be kind of embarrassing to own them.” Instead, Sherman linked to a Proenza Schouler equivalent at $995. We’re still not talking cheap, but at least it’s something.

The surprising news that luxury British e-tailer MATCHESFASHION.COM was going into administration earlier this year only added to the discourse of prices simply being too steep to be sustainable. That Elordi swapped his Bottega for Country Road likely wasn’t because the actor was tight on rent that month, but the notion is one we could all do with a dose of. 

A prevalent issue the industry faces is the lack of aspirational mid-range brands today. Those selling well-made pieces at an affordable price point with good materials. Many bonus points if they're doing so sustainably and ethically and are size diverse (all of which impact costs). And even more so if the collections contain exciting clothes made with vision. Designers like L.A.-based Entire Studios, built on the notion of making luxury accessible to all, are a rare respite. And in Australia there are an onslaught of young independent brands coming through, like Alix Higgins and Phoebe Pendergast. But for the most part, it begins at high street or is mostly simple basics like you'd find at your local (still serving a purpose!) COS, and then jumps to your Sandy Liang and Vaquera price point, both of which sell dresses beginning at $1,000 and can hardly be deemed shop-able beyond occasion dressing for the average consumer. 

The internet seems ready to facilitate this vibe shift. Recently, a friend posted that Banana Republic is "weirdly very good right now" and I heard a host of the fashion podcast Every Outfit saying she'd begun shopping at GAP for jeans. The fashion shopping Substack MAGASIN reported J.Crew was its second most popular brand of the month in February with subscribers and in January bag brand Aeyde made the list (dubbed the new By Far "as the de facto source for quality mid-range leather goods").

Perhaps men’s adoption of the Country Road tote says as much about the current state of the algorithm and inspiration as it does about the socio-economic state of the world. As we are served feeds prioritised to keep us shopping, rather than content created by our own friends and family, perhaps the men of Sydney are being inspired by those around them: their friends, their coworkers, the lads they see on the train carrying a bag that looks pretty darn practical and polished for the price.

Whatever the case, sometimes a dose of fashion nostalgia is a good reminder that we once spent — and happily survived on — much less. 

Stay inspired, follow us.