9 Trapezoid Totes & A Little Handbag History

The trapezoid tote is the new handbag in town this season. Take your pick at any price point, plus learn the handbag’s humble beginnings.

Photo by Anthea Simms
Photos by Anthea Simms

While the days of the bold name bag have disappeared, we still get a thrill when a common thread emerges among accessories. You may have noticed (as we certainly have) a bag with an unusual frame on the arm of celebs and savvy street stylers alike. Chloe and Valentino are among the labels who produced the trapezoid-shaped structured tote for S/S 13—and the mass market retailers have followed, making it accessible at every price point. But before we get to the trapezoid, let’s delve into the history of the handbag itself. You can thank Samuel Parkinson, the rumoured inventor, for the it’s humble beginnings.

In 1841 Parkinson, the inventor of butterscotch, requested that H.J. Cave, maker of travel cases and trunks at the time, design a smaller bag for his wife to carry her personal belongings in when they travelled. Thus, the more convenient handbag was born, though it wasn’t until several decades later that it became a signal of luxury.

The Birkin Bag; Photo Courtesy of Forbes.com
The Birkin Bag

Originally carried for ease, not fashion, handbags have become a billion dollar business over the past century. Design houses first began creating bags for covetable consumption in the early 1900s. One of the first designers to hit the market was Émile-Maurice Hermès, who produced a small leather collection in 1922 for his wife who had complained that she couldn’t find a suitable bag she liked. The man behind the brand was also the first to create the handbag with a zipper, which he had patented. Now Hermès bags are some of the most sought after, with the Birkin bag (named after singer and actress Jane Birkin) becoming one of the most famously exclusive accessories in the world.

Louis Vuitton followed in 1932 with the Noe bag, which was originally used to carry bottles but quickly turned into a fashion statement. The iconic bucket bag still lives on today, reinterpreted by Marc Jacobs for S/S 13 in the label’s mod checkerboard pattern. Game changer Coco Chanel also created an iconic bag: in 1955 she unveiled the 2.55—the wishlist-making quilted bag with metal chain and interlocking CCs logo.

Photo by Anthea Simms
Photo by Anthea Simms

With our thanks to Mr. Parkinson and all the tote trailblazers after him, check out our favourite spring trapezoids for under $100, $1,000 and $3,000.


handbag-100H&M tote, $30, hm.com. Aldo satchel, $50, aldo.com. Zara Shopper bag, $80, zara.com



3.1 Phillip Lim mini Pashli satchel, $719, farfetch.com. Vince Camuto Julia tote, $315, shop.nordstrom.com. Michael Kors Selma bag, $358, michaelkors.com



Versace Medusa handbag, $2,754, farfetch.com. Chloe Mini East West colorblock tote, $1,595, neimanmarcus.com. Valentino tote, $1,895, store.valentino.com.

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