In ancient times handbags were purely functional and had nothing to do with fashion like they do today. They were just circular pieces of material which had a leather strap to make it easy to carry. Back then these pouches were more of a mans item as men used to store their coins and other such valuables in these pouches. Most Egyptian hieroglyphics would suggest this. Women those days did not carry any money and hence, did not need such an item.
Today however, it is a completely different scenario. A handbag is one of the most important fashion accessories for any women. All women today carry handbags, and apart from them being convenient accessories to carry items on the go, they are also a fashion statement. Most women carry their handbags with pride as they represent their individuality, style and status.
Handbags began to gain popularity in the seventh century, and they were made in a series of shapes with a variety of embroidery to add to their decorative appeal. Then the eighteenth century witnessed the use of reticules. Reticules were another name for handbags, and were similarly a fashion statement. Originally handbags were popularized because of their use, however, that took a backseat to the design and the look factor of the bags. Much later in time, fashion magazines saw this as a good opportunity and started marketing things like, how use should know the perfect handbag for the particular occasion and how certain types of handbags for women should be used for certain events and which handbag suits which event. Handbags were still functional but they were more about the brand and the design.
Post the twentieth century every decade saw a massive development in the fashion of handbags. In the early part of the 1900s women carried various types of handbags which did not have to match their clothing. Then during the time of the world wars bags were made with whatever material possible due to the scarcity of resources. Once that time passed, the 50s witnessed an influx of designer fashion where they were special designers who were known to create exclusive designer handbags which boasted of an outstanding and elegant design. Some of these designers are Prada, Louis Vuitton and Chanel.
Today due to the many breakthroughs in the technological field, there are so many new materials like canvas, synthetic and reptile skin from which a ladies handbag could be made. Also due to improvements in the manufacturing process, bags are cheaper and hence can be bought by people who do not wish to spend a substantial amount. However, most designer handbags still cost an arm and a leg.
The history of the handbag has completed an entire circle, with handbags first being used by men for very basic purposes in ancient times and now by women as a means to make a fashion statement. Today there are certain handbags made for men as well, with some men wanting to own one.