Grocery Store Bags Are Chic Now, Just Ask Balenciaga

Balenciaga took its SS22 “Clones” collection down the runway this week, making keyboards hot with its deepfake-populated front row, Demna’s response to the Gucciaga “hack”, and that stiletto-heeled Croc. But if you’re from the UK like I am, your attention was probably fixed on the house’s nod to the (iconic, IMO) Tesco Value shopping bag.

“Cloned” by Balenciaga in the look above, this accessory was handed out at Tesco checkouts across Britain, serving as proud merch for the major grocery store’s now-quashed discount line. A blue and white striped artifact of modern design that perfected two-tone, pared-back packaging way before Aesop.

It was aesthetically powerful, sure. But like most other grocery store bags, it was plastic. Unquestionably, we all want to see the complete demise of the single-use plastic bag. It’s of great importance, then, that Balenciaga just came through with nylon reusable shopping bags in such heavenly form for SS22.

Though Balenciaga has riffed on bags of this type before (see Demna’s $2,000 Ikea tribute), it isn’t the first fashion house to look to the checkout for design inspo. At Martin Margiela’s legendary 1989 show in Paris, the designer fashioned carrier bags into tops, held together by duct tape and worn on some of the moment’s greatest models. The humble grocery store bag remains a key part of the house of Margiela, even if Martin does not, and the label continues to offer new takes — whether it’s the IG-dominating PVC rendition from a few seasons back or a sleek leather version of the bag shape this season.

Need more proof of the reusable shopping bag’s high fashion credentials? Issey Miyake has even lent his renowned pleating technology to the apple-carrying category for recent accessories. Then there are younger labels like Our Legacy including them in new collections this summer. These things are everywhere, and at every level of the luxury food chain. As such, it’s not unlikely that they overtake the much-loved tote.

Of course, the overriding positive of reusable shopping bags is their role in the reduction of waste and plastic pollution. When we get branded iterations of a product designed for sustainability purposes first and foremost, as seen with the rise of the reusable water bottle, the more they reach a wider audience. That is surely a good thing.

Though it’s great to have some high fashion backing for reusable grocery bags, you definitely don’t have to drop Balenciaga prices to avoid serious checkout shame. Brookly-based Baggu has been killing it with its cute packable bags for years, offering a huge range of graphic options for less than $15.

Not to be confused with the shoulder-slung tote, this smaller grocery store accessory is handheld, usually packable, and often comes in nylon or PVC form — which means they work well in the rain, too. Below, we’ve picked out some of the best reusable shopping bags around right now, from a current season Balenciaga option down to the super-affordable Baggu.

While we wait for that Balenciaga spin on the Tesco Value carrier bag to arrive next year, you can fill its shopper-shaped hole in your heart with this Valentine red one from the label’s current output. Folds away into a cute round pocket bag.

Much love to Baggu, the Brooklyn brand ruling the reusable shopping bags game when it comes to affordability. As well as being super practical and packing away into a tiny pouch, there are literally hundreds of colorway options to choose from. Smiley edition is a summer essential.

OK, I know I said I was waiting for the Balenciaga bag, but this shopper is FIRE. As with most things Our Legacy puts its hands to, I am in love. Take my money, I don’t want groceries anyway.

Cut to — you wandering around the grocery store aisles aimlessly, just to show off your pleated Issey Miyake bag. “It’s reusable too, you know!”

For running from the park to the nearest bodega to refresh provisions for the brigade with an air of military drill, Maharishi’s shopper also rolls away into an ultra-portable accessory.

As well as co-running creative at Jil Sander, Luke Meier also lends his vision to OAMC. Through his work at the brand, we get the same touches of minimalism, albeit with a little more freedom for color use here. An investment shopper, if I ever saw one.

For some unbeknown reason, Scandinavia just knows how to do simplicity and function well. This is a category built on function, which is why it’s worth looking to trusted design outlets like Hay for good ones.

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