Ironic LL Bean Boat & Tote Bags are taking over TikTok fashion

After years of micro bags in the spotlight, it’s no surprise Gen Z is rebelling against the itty-bitty, impractical trend with a pivot to oversized bags. But what is surprising is their tote of choice, one I previously associated only with New England preppy college kids and coastal grandmas. Here comes the return of the LL Bean Boat and Tote – this time with a twist.

If you’re a human on planet Earth, you’ve definitely come across at least one LL Bean Boat and Tote in your life (the Land’s End canvas tote bag also counts). The simple reinforced canvas silhouette is available in four sizes, with ten cheerful colorways and the ability to personalize with your monogram, name or “Fake Heiress”.

Confused? I recommend you head to TikTok, type in “boat and tote,” and scroll through the dozens of videos showcasing the reimagined preppy staple like only Gen Z can. Ironic Boat and Totes take over, with users opting for short, fun phrases instead of their actual names.

Gracie Wiener (@graciewiener) has been at the forefront of this particular resurgence, with several videos and an entire Instagram account dedicated to the most hilarious Boat and Tote styles. Some of my favorites include relatable phrases such as “Not Good”, “Dump Him”, “Highstrung”, “Flop Era” and more. Thanks to Wiener, I spent hours debating this my witty sentence should be (taking suggestions).

“Boat and bags have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I have one of my mom’s bags that’s probably as old as me,” Wiener told Bustle. really practical and sturdy, so we use them for everything from carrying towels to the beach to packing for weekend trips.”

That said, she won’t take credit for making the tongue-in-cheek Boat and Totes a thing. “Last July, I saw Juliana Salazar post an LL Bean B&T that she spotted in Paris with the inscription ‘psycho’,” she says. “I immediately ran to order my best friend and I matching pairs. The rest is kind of history.

Wiener thinks a myriad of factors have combined to cause the trend to rise in popularity, but she cites price as a particularly attractive factor. “On the side of TikTok I’m on, there are always new ‘must-have’ designer bags that are priced out of reach,” Wiener says. “I guess a lot of people were thrilled to see a bag that is, for the most part, very affordable, practical, durable and will never go out of style.”

What’s more ironic is that a notable subgenre of this trend includes fake designer branding. Shoppers have brand names like Prada and Gucci embroidered onto their bags as an obvious but stylish joke. TikTok user @slim_sadyeeee even personalized her orange Hermès boat and tote with the words “Fake Birkin”.

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Beyond LL Bean, simple nautical-inspired bags are also trending in the luxury sector. We can’t help but do a double take on the Balenciaga Cabas Tote, which looks suspiciously like a Boat and Tote, from form to function. Dior’s embroidered canvas Book Totes, on the other hand, have become one of their best-selling and most recognizable handbags, with Prada’s new jacquard bags touted as a clear response to Dior’s success.

Although I’m tempted to indulge in the Ironic Boat and Tote culture, sustainability-conscious shoppers have pointed out a flaw in the trend. Many criticize this practice for turning a bag renowned for its timelessness and durability into a trend that is likely to be discontinued. This could lead shoppers to buy bags for the trend and throw them away soon after.

“If you’re embracing this trend, please learn how to use a seam ripper,” urges user @smoranooo, who predicts many will tire of their sassy custom embroideries. “It’s like the fast-fashionification of the $30 LL beanbag that, hypothetically, your grandma, your mom, you and your future kids could all wear it if you didn’t put something silly on it.

In response, Wiener has more than a few thoughts. Although she disapproves of the current speed at which trends bubble up and fade, she is convinced that Boat and Totes will not be a passing fad. Wiener points out, the ironic element box certainly be temporary, if the wearer wishes. “If I’m sick of one, I’m going to take my seam ripper, like the designer suggested, take the embroidery out and breathe new life into it,” Weiner said.

Rather than focusing on the potential end of the trend, Wiener and Boat and Tote lovers everywhere (ironic or otherwise) are instead choosing to savor the joy these beloved bags bring them now.

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