It all started on TikTok way back in April 2022, when one user discovered a simple but truly snazzy Uniqlo crossbody bag. Small and sleek, the bag’s big trick was that it was much larger on the inside than it looked from the outside. A pack of cookies, wallet, charger, camera, pair of over-ear headphones, EpiPen, perfume bottle – they all fitted. Sort of like a Tardis bum-bag or Mary Poppins magic handbag but, also showcasing Uniqlo’s typically stylish, minimal design, it was actually cool.
Fast forward a year or so and Uniqlo’s ‘round mini shoulder bag’ (alternatively called the ‘moon bag’ or ‘round mini’) is quickly becoming inescapable. In parks and on the streets, on Tubes and all over social media, summer 2023 is the season of the ‘moon bag’. Everyone in London now seems to have one.
So... why? Why this bag over others? Why, according to Uniqlo themselves, has the ‘round mini’ sold out seven times since launch and become the brand’s best-selling bag?
‘The icon status of the bag has multiple reasons behind it,’ says stylist Alex Standley, who was once a fashion buyer for the likes of M&S and Amazon and now runs styling business Luxe Leopard Lifestyle. ‘The most obvious one being the fact that it perfectly blends practicality with fashion, fitting the current utility trend.’
Style is, obviously, most important. After all, plenty of hiking and adventure companies make small, convenient bags. However, lots of those bags are fiddly and complicated and don’t look particularly good. Uniqlo’s bag, with its hidden zip and simple curves, certainly looks good.
It’s versatile, too. Not only can the ‘moon bag’ be worn in several ways, from one-shoulder and crossbody to up high and slung low, but it comes in several colours (ten, to be specific), too. It’s easily styled, though the adaptability of the beige and black ones means that they’re consistently the most popular.
Standley explains that the ‘round mini’ ‘transcends the seasons in its neutral and easy to wear colours’, while the bag’s shape taps into the style of saddle bags, which have been a trend for the past few seasons.
Then, obviously, there’s the other big thing: convenience. Measuring a not-that-small 28cm by 17cm, it’s more the case that the ‘round mini’ is a big-ish bag that looks smaller than it is, rather than a tiny bag that holds a lot.
‘It’s definitely an all-rounder,’ says stylist Sam Carder. ‘‘It’s practical in the sense that you can fit so much more in, because of the shape.’ There are more than enough videos on TikTok of people managing to fit loads in it. On top of the original vid, check this out, this one and this, too. People don’t bore of realising just how much you can fit in this thing.
The water repellent finish is great for keeping your belongings protected from the British summer
Then there’s the price. It’s hard to argue with £14.90. Fifteen quid! That’s like two-and-a-bit pints in London. Compare the Uniqlo bag to some of its competitors, and they really don’t come close. Unlike Carhartt and Eastpak bum-bags, you don’t look like you’re ready to flog teeny bags and sketchy pills. Unlike trendy Freitags, they don’t cost grimace-worthy amounts of cash.
And it’s no wonder that the ‘round mini’ has grown even more popular as festival season has gotten further underway.
‘It’s secure for carrying your body and can fit all your essentials in if you’re camping,’ explains Standley. ‘It also has a water repellent finish, which is great for British weather and keeping your belongings protected from the rain – or a cider spillage.’
Bum-bags have long been part of the go-to festival outfit, but Uniqlo’s fashionable and affordable version has really taken off. Festivalgoers are so in the grip of the bag that one Twitter user joked that this year’s Glastonbury could be ‘the biggest ever Uniqlo crossbody bag meet-up’.
And that sort of links to another arrow in the quiver of Uniqlo’s ‘round mini’: social media. ‘#uniqlobag’ has apparently been viewed a massive 95 million times on TikTok, and all that coverage is, in social media terms, organic. Uniqlo isn’t paying any celebrities or influencers to endorse the product, so it’s popularity is essentially good ol’ fashioned word-of-mouth – albeit on a ginormous scale.
And it’s not just on TikTok that the ‘moon bags’ have spread like wildfire. They’re hugely popular on Twitter, too. There are countless tweets about the bag – and Uniqlo themselves have even tried their hand at getting in on that virality, combining it with Succession memes. Those results might’ve been a bit mixed (they didn’t go viral, to say the least), but still, it indicates just how much cultural impact the bags have had.
Combining social media virality with style, convenience and affordability, it’s really no wonder London is so fully in the grip of the ‘round mini’. After all this, want to cop one? We don’t blame ya. Find all the different varieties here.