What is a Tote Bag?

In a world where handbags come in all shapes and sizes, the tote bag is an accessory that blends functionality and adaptability. Often understated in its design, this unassuming carryall has quietly become a massive part of our daily lives, from the beach to the grocery store. 

Let’s explore tote bags, including their origins, features, versatility, and tips for picking the perfect one. Get ready to learn more about tote bags and how this style staple can fit right into your outfit rotation.


The tote bag has humble origins, initially emerging in the early 20th century. The term "tote" means "to carry" and has been used since the 17th century. However, the modern tote bag as we know it today gained popularity in the 1940s.

The tote bag's origins can be traced back to an American retail company that, in 1944, introduced a large, durable canvas bag with sturdy handles. These bags were originally designed for carrying ice blocks, but customers quickly found them helpful for various purposes due to their durability and spaciousness.

In the 1960s, tote bags began to gain popularity as a fashion accessory and a symbol of environmentalism. The hippie movement embraced them for their practicality and simplicity. Around the same time, the iconic "boat bag" style, characterized by its wide shape and nautical-inspired design, became popular among sailors and beachgoers.

Tote bags continued to evolve throughout the latter half of the 20th century and into the 21st century. Due to their reusable nature, they became synonymous with eco-friendly shopping practices, and many companies started producing branded tote bags for promotional purposes. Today, tote bags come in various materials, designs, and sizes and remain a practical accessory.



A tote bag is as straightforward as it gets. At its core, there’s a large, roomy main compartment begging to be filled with your everyday essentials and then some. There's no need to play Tetris with your belongings; there's plenty of space for those “just-in-case” items. 

The tote's parallel handles extend gracefully from either side of the bag, making carrying it a breeze. Whether sling it over your shoulder or gripping it in your hand, a tote is easy to take for all your on-the-go adventures. Latico’s Margie tote and shoulder bag is an excellent example of this versatility and refreshingly uncomplicated design, featuring long leather handles and an unstructured shape.


From leather's lavish embrace to jute's down-to-earth appeal, the materials define the character of each tote, making them as diverse as the journeys you take them on! 

First is leather — the embodiment of versatile style, durability, and sophistication. This luxe material turns a tote into a real statement piece. All of Latico’s leather handbags are made with 100% full-grain leather, so you can be sure your tote bag will last for years and look good throughout it all. 

Then there's canvas — practicality's best friend. With its breathability, durability, and eco-friendly credentials, a canvas bag will be your trusty sidekick through life's adventures. Nylon is also on the scene, offering lightness, strength, and a handy dose of water resistance. Rainy days, no problem! And let's not forget the earthy charm of jute or burlap, both eco-friendly, durable materials that bring a rustic aesthetic.


Tote bags are incredibly versatile, so that you can use them in many different ways. The possibilities are truly endless! This makes them a popular choice for people of all ages and lifestyles. Here are some examples of how you might use a tote bag:

Grocery shopping: Tote bags are sturdy enough to hold a decent amount of weight, and their spaciousness makes them ideal for transporting groceries from the store to your home.

Beach outings: Their durable materials make tote bags well-suited for sandy environments, and you can quickly shake out any sand that gets inside.

Work or school: Many tote bags have interior pockets or compartments to organize smaller items.

Gym or exercise: Tote bags are often more spacious than traditional ones and can easily accommodate items like yoga mats or resistance bands.

Travel: Tote bags can also be used as your one “personal item” when flying, allowing you to store them under the seat in front of you.

Shopping trips: Tote bags are reusable and eco-friendly, making them a sustainable alternative to disposable shopping bags.

Everyday errands: Tote bags are perfect for running errands around town, whether picking up dry cleaning, dropping off library books, or grabbing coffee with friends.

Picnics or outdoor events: Tote bags are lightweight and easy to carry, making them a convenient option for outdoor gatherings.



Selecting the perfect tote bag is all about understanding your needs and compatibility; first, sizing matters! Whether you're a light packer or carrying everything you might ever need, picking the right size is essential. Consider what you want to take and where you’ll bring your tote bag.

Second, think about durability. If you're searching for a bag that can handle every part of your day, from groceries to gym gear, opt for a sturdy companion that won't wear out on you, like the spacious full-grain leather Urban tote. While we’re partial to leather for its classic style and timeless versatility, materials like canvas, nylon, and jute offer unique benefits.

Third, consider your lifestyle and activities. Tote bags are the ultimate versatile fashion accessory. Whether you're hitting the mall or the sandy shores and heading for some retail therapy, ditch the plastic bags and let your leather tote, like Latico’s roomy Van tote and crossbody, be your easy-to-carry, sustainable shopping buddy.

Off to the office? Leather tote bags carry your laptop, notebooks, and essentials, adding a touch of fashionable utility to your everyday office commute. For students, it's a starting point for your style that can also easily lug around hefty textbooks. And when the beach calls your name, your towel, tanning lotion, and favorite summer read easily fit into the roomy leather tote.


Lastly, make sure the tote resonates with your style. If you carry it around daily, you want to ensure it will work with all your outfits for the coming seasons.

A leather tote can effortlessly transition from office meetings to evenings out, a testament to its stylish versatility. However, there are moments when you might want to choose functionality over style. A jam-packed day calls for a bag that can hold your laptop, notebooks, and snacks, all while keeping your hands free and your back happy. 

The good news? Some brands have mastered the magic of combining style and function. Latico offers sustainable leather totes that are as gorgeous as they are dependable. Their buttery-soft leather and rich colors elevate your look no matter the activity.



Ensuring your leather tote lasts for years begins with understanding its unique personality. First, identify the type of leather you're dealing with—is it smooth, suede, or textured? Once you've determined the material, clean your tote bag to keep it in good condition for years to come.

First, remove dirt and grime by gently brushing or wiping down your bag with a soft cloth. Then, choose a gentle leather cleaner specifically designed for your leather type. Apply it gently, circularly, letting the cleaner work magic. 

Lastly, there’s leather conditioning. While Latico doesn’t recommend using a conditioner on our products, certain leather goods may benefit from one. Like a spa day for your tote, a leather conditioner can moisturize the material, preventing it from drying out and cracking. 

Perform this leather care routine every few months, and your leather tote will thank you by aging gracefully and staying by your side for the long haul.


Proper storage for your beloved tote bag can extend its lifespan and keep it looking as stunning as ever. 

First rule: location, location, location! Find an excellent, dry spot away from direct sunlight and humidity. This helps prevent color fading and leather damage. But don't just toss it into your closet haphazardly. Inserting a cushion or dust bag into your tote can help it maintain shape and structure. Your bag deserves a little breathing room, so don't cram it among your other items.

This Tote Bags 101 guide covers tote bags’ humble beginnings and rise to fashionable must-have accessories. Now it’s your turn to experience their uniqueness for yourself. Your tote is an accessory and a statement of your individuality, so embrace both worlds — functionality, and style — as you shop for your perfect fit!

find your dream tote bag