A women’s hobo bag is a large slouchy handbag, named so because it resembles the ‘bindle,’ or sack, which fictionalized, cartoon versions of hobos tied to the ends of sticks to more easily carry their belongings. Doesn’t sound like a politically correct name for a handbag style (especially when the price tag can run into the thousands of dollars), but there you have it.
A classic hobo bag is basically the same shape as a plastic grocery bag, which, if you think about it, is a pretty good design for schlepping your stuff. So, it’s no surprise that this sort of crescent shaped sack morphed into a luxury bag. Originally a somewhat unisex design, it became a decidedly more feminine style when Jackie O. popularized her Gucci shoulder hobo in the 1960s. The hobo has since achieved definite ‘it’ bag status, with surges in popularity if certain designers promote the silhouette in a collection. Hobo became a brand name in the early 1990s, with women’s leather accessory company Hobo International.
The hobo is the ultimate casual carryall. While the basic shape and shoulder strap is pretty consistent across designs, there are many variations on the classic. Many hobo bags are leather or suede, but cloth and canvas are also popular hobo bag materials. Other embellishments such as fringe, tassels, studs and unique hardware can make an otherwise basic bag more of a statement. Size usually ranges from large to oversized, though smaller options are available. A hobo bag definitely deserves a place in your purse collection, and is the perfect addition to a jeans and tee, or other casual, outfit.