Tote bags
Photograph: Dewi Nurjuwita

What your tote bag says about you, the Singapore edition

Functional? Yes. Pretentious? Maybe.

Dewi NurjuwitaCheryl Sekkappan
Contributor: Cheryl Sekkappan
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Tote bags are the ultimate arm candy of choice in the 21st century. They have multiple uses – whether it's for transporting your books and laptop, gym clothes, groceries, and anything else in between. And they can be environmentally friendly, too. But don't get it twisted, tote bags are more than just a piece of canvas. They tell people a great big deal about you. Intrigued? Let's find out what your choice of tote bag says about you. 

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Common totes in Singapore

The Projector Tote Bag

You're cool, you're indie, and you go your own way. No doubt, you're a member of The Projector and regularly watch movies there alone (A24 films are your favourite). Marvel movies? Gross. We won't be surprised if your arms are a whole sticker book of hand-poked tattoos, because your body is a blank canvas you use to express yourself. Power to you! 

And we know what's in your bag – loose notes, crumpled zines, and a film camera you bring everywhere to catch artistic, candid shots of your besties.  

The Paper Bunny Puffer Shopper

Okay, so you're constantly in Kydra activewear and Reformer Pilates is your favourite way to work out. You live a hectic hybrid working life but are also into self-love – that makes The Paper Bunny (TPB) puffer shopper just the cosy, do-it-all bag that you need in your life. Just get a load of that pastel colour palette and cloud-like material, right? 

TPB girls go all-in, so we totally expect to find a bunch of the brand's journals, reusable bags, and cutlery in your puffer shopper. Oh, and you probably have their laptop bags in – not tan – but champagne at home too. 

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Gentlewoman Tote Bag

Respect, you're absolutely a bold and devil-may-care one for carrying around a Gentlewoman bag. After all, carriers of this brand have received no small amount of ridicule for it. You've probably been caught red-handed on this Instagram account, but who cares? Your Gentlewoman tote is sturdy, carries a shit ton of stuff, and makes you feel part of a tribe tbh. Because you enjoy irony, you sometimes let your acmé de la vie boyfriend carry your bag for you too. 

LongChamp Le Pliage Tote

You're a massive hoarder and have absolutely no boundaries. Just look at how your LongChamp Le Pliage Tote is bursting at the seams. The bag is a workhorse, sure, but there's still a limit to how much it can hold. The best part is, your unhealthy tendencies are hidden under a perfectly innocuous office lady facade. 

Your toxic trait? You don't have a bag organiser for your tote, so you're always stuck somewhere searching for something – your phone, wallet, EZ-link card, house keys – and inevitably holding everyone up. 

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Carhartt Dawn Tote

You're a utilitarian who's tired of chasing the trend. The Carhartt Dawn Tote is durable, functional, and matches everything, especially your vintage band t-shirts and cargo pants. That's not a style any mere mortal can pull off. And let us guess, you're also an aspiring sk8ter who spends an inordinate amount of time practising your tricks outside The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands. Hot tip: don't ever mall grab or you automatically lose cool points (iykyk). 

Bao Bao Issey Miyake Tote

We see you – you're the one who asks questions at work meetings. If your colleagues roll their eyes at you for being a try-hard, it's no skin off your back, because you're only going to progress further and faster than them all. Just like your avant-garde Issey Miyake tote bag, you're edgy and not afraid to stand out. But if we had to guess your deepest, darkest secret? You thought Bao Bao was the brand. RIP.

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The New Yorker

You're an intellectual. You are sophisticated, cultured and well-read – or you would like people to think you are. How else would people take you seriously if not for the constant stream of Hemingway quotes you post on Instagram stories? 

In reality, you probably paid for a trial subscription (and then cancelled it the moment it started billing in full) of The New Yorker so you can finally own the ultimate status symbol of millennials – but we'll give you the benefit of the doubt. 

Hyperlocal Tote Bags

You're such a true blue local that you favourite the song Home by Kit Chan on Spotify. You roll your eyes at people spending obscene amounts of money at hipster cafes. Bulletproof coffee with coconut mylk, I beg your pardon? All you need is your daily Kopi C Siew Dai, extra gao. Eggs Benedict? Please. You're a kaya toast with soft-boiled egg kinda individual. In fact, the coffeeshop uncle even knows your order by heart. In fact, the coffeeshop auntie calls you sayang. Starbucks? Don't know her.  

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Singapore Art Week Tote Bag (and any museum tote)

You spend your weekends visiting museums and galleries – and you want everyone to know that. You walk into any independent art gallery and are on a first-name basis with the owners, curators or sitters. The ultimate art connoisseur, you can immediately recognise a Liu Kang painting or Raden Saleh (obviously), but you also love namedropping obscure artists nobody’s ever heard of before. #cultured is your middle name. You probably have a scarf. Neutral Milk Hotel is still your favourite band. 

Muji Water Repellent Tote Bag

You’ve been labelled the typical Singaporean guy or girl. If being dressed head to toe in Muji and Uniqlo is a personality type, you'd gladly accept it. Minimalism is so in. After all, your wardrobe's made up of mostly Uniqlo basics in all the neutral colours. Why plan an outfit when you can have a uniform on rotation? If it ain't broke, don't fix it. 

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Dior Book Tote

You can't live without your designer brands, but you still want to be down to earth and be a part of the tote bag crew. In fact, you probably have an entire collection of designer tote bags you take out on rotation – at least until you can go on another shopping trip to Avenue Montaigne, croissant in hand. It is already 2023, so what's stopping you? In the meantime, you can repost #throwback Instagram stories of le Paris trip circa 2019 and send Emily in Paris memes to your friends with the caption "THIS". C'est la vie. 

Minimalist Tote

The complete opposite of the Dior Book Tote gang, tbh. You’re the stylish one in the friend group. When it comes to your choice of tote, there's nothing worse than anything too flashy – god forbid the logo-emblazoned designer bags. You're kind of low-key and intend to keep it that way. 

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WeWork

You don't know when or how it happened, but now you'd proudly announce that you've been initiated into a cult of IPA-guzzling, Two Door Cinema Club-loving start-up clan. Your boss just turned 27, sometimes you wear a hoodie to work, you only drink fruit-infused water, scrolling through TikTok is 'part of work', you buy coffee from a flashy coffee shop around the corner from the office. Playing ping pong in the middle of a workday? You've got no qualms about that. After all, you don't just love what you do – you do what you goddamn love. 

An Eclectic Tote

We're calling it, you're most probably an artist, creative, or just very spiritual. Your tote bags are just as colourful as your life and life motto – and you won't have it any other way. You probably have cool shoes and cool clothes, and there's a possibility there's a crystal in your bag. We're guessing rose quartz. Also, your friends can most definitely testify that you're an absolute joy to be around. 

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