The Rucksack is Back!

“I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” Robert Louis Stevenson was no stranger to the eager but melancholic condition of travellers. Always on the road, he also wrote extensively about travelling, with a realism and consciousness that was only possible because of his own adventurous soul. Through his books many an ambitious traveller got inspired; we dreamt of sailing a ship in company of a group of pirates, and we took the train with him from New York to sunny California, resting after an intense hike on the French Cevennes. The only goal: wander, discover, live. You, perhaps a couple of friends and the best companion one can have while on an extensive journey: a backpack. Or at least so it was until the end of the 20th century.
During the ’90s, the rucksack was ubiquitous: not only it was still the absolute definer of the wise and carefree traveller, but it had also become a staple in the wardrobe of every high school student around the world. Soon rucksacks weren’t only made in neutral-hued nylon, but they were also customized according to age, gender and interests and enlarged to contain schoolbooks.
Then the new millennium arrived, and in our haste to put the past behind us and start afresh, we put aside fashion essentials such as tartan and our beloved rucksack. During those dark days the act of wearing a backpack was severely frowned upon because considered geek: thus, we moved to professional cross body bags for our computers, and to trolleys – easy to transport and capacious enough to carry your entire wardrobe for a week-vacation, because “you never know”.


Nevertheless, as the sensible Florence Welch says, “it’s always darkest before the dawn.” Now, after years spent in oblivion, the “Cara Delevingne Syndrome” made it possible for the backpack to peek again out of the most famous windows of the fashion world, included a particularly well-known one in Rue Cambon in Paris. Cara brought a whiff of gaiety and carelessness to fashion, with her beanies, high heeled sneakers, and the onesie. It was just a matter of time before she brought back the backpack, the ultimate grungy essential of the 90s. So she signed a partnership with Mulberry to produce a line of bags that could be her final dot on her signature style: excellent for the busy young woman who has no time to go home between office and parties, the Mulberry bag in question can be used as a backpack, but it’s also comfortable and small enough to be hanged cross-body, for a more polished attire.


The Chanel backpack from the S/S 2014 collection


Cara Delevingne for Mulberry


Matthew The Daypack from sustainable brand Millican


Faux-leather backpack by New Look on Asos

Although Cara might have been the mean through which we began to love the backpack once again, we choose it more often not because of its affiliation with the model, but because of its multitasking properties. You might want it because you desperately need to feel at home everywhere but you can only do it by taking with you everything you own; or perhaps because you have no time to go home between work, yoga, and a date. But whether you are a hungry reader who needs the right selection of books for any situation and mood, a traveller on a budget or someone who loves looking casual but appropriate everywhere, the backpack is your item. If you carry with you long enough you’ll see it get old and look better: worn out and patchy, it will have that nostalgic imprint of long-gone days, faded but eternally cherished like your own memories.


Written by: Alice Demurtas

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