Style file: The return of the backpack

The Nineties revival may just end up on your back.  The accessory that defines the spring/summer 2014 season is the backpack, says Emma Akbareian

There are many things worn during schooldays that we’d prefer to pretend never happened – hippie skirts, hair scrunchies and popper tracksuit bottoms spring to mind. The cyclical nature of fashion, however, means that there’s inevitably one or two that will once again have their day: this season, it’s the turn of the backpack.

There are many things worn during schooldays that we’d prefer to pretend never happened – hippie skirts, hair scrunchies and popper tracksuit bottoms spring to mind. The cyclical nature of fashion, however, means that there’s inevitably one or two that will once again have their day: this season, it’s the turn of the backpack.

You need look no further than the spring/summer Chanel catwalk, where Karl Lagerfeld featured the understated accessory with just about every other look. In place of the Parisian couture house’s traditional quilted leather 2.55 handbags, Lagerfeld slung graffiti-scarred canvas rucksacks across his models’ shoulders, or styles embroidered with plastic and frayed swatches of chiffon like an art project gone awry. The graffitied numbers – despite a price tag clearing £2,000 – have already sold out internationally, and are set to become collector’s items.

Elsewhere, designers have been capitalising on the trend by reimagining their accessory greatest hits into the it-bag shape of the season. Phillip Lim’s Pashli can now be slung across your back as easily as your arm, as can Proenza Schouler’s PS1 style. Alexander Wang’s debut bag as creative director at Balenciaga, Le Dix, has also been updated. Even the Cambridge Satchel Company has issued a rucksack rework of its classic offering.

The backpack may conjure images of Clueless’s Cher Horowitz, but there is a more modern way to wear the trend. On the high street minimalist styles by Kurt Geiger and French Connection in classic shades of tan and black are smart enough to sport at the office. For the more bohemian, there are beaded and embroidered styles from River Island and Warehouse that will make ideal companions to a festival wardrobe. Not even the drawstring backpack has escaped revival – Nineties school-goers will remember the sports logo-emblazoned styles of the day. ASOS’s version, however, comes in infinitely more chic, soft dove grey leather.

If you’re still not persuaded, consider the practicality factor; unlike minaudières and micro-bags, backpacks have functionality – and your back – fully covered.

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