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Bag design notes

Bag design, appunti di progettazione

Which was the first model of bag in history?

Probably similar to a leather saddlebag, for centuries it substantially did not change in shape and was carried hanging on belt or neck by means of ribbons.

In the Middle Ages, the power of châtelaine was symbolized by the keys hanging on her belt. From this use was derived a particular form of bag, called châtelaine, which remained in use for several centuries.

Bozzetto 1, disegno © prototipa
Bag sketch by © prototipa

From small bags (Italian scarsella, in French aumônière, was used by pilgrims) will then derive all evening handbags. Particularly at the beginning of the 20th Century, with the return of adherent clothes and the abolition of pockets, was born handbags fashion: these bags were in leather or wire mesh, with metal clasps and short handles or chains.

Sometimes handbags reached such a small size to be translated into “finger handbags”, made of silver mesh.

Larger bags have always adapted to day fashion, specializing their function with changing costumes.

In particular, in the 19th Century, with the spread of travels, was born the need for a robust leather briefcase, with handles, locks and compartments for papers and tickets.


Bags of the past were mostly in leather, but sometimes also in materials such as embroidered velvet, or embroidered silk with beads.

Among modern materials we find synthetic leather and suede, produced in different finishes, weights and colours. Synthetic skins have the advantage, besides being animal-friendly, not to present the typical imperfections of natural ones.

Other possibilities are offered by the most varied materials, which we find on many garments and jackets, or for furnishing: velvet, upholstery fabrics, canvas, jute, satin, silk, wool, rope, straw (natural or synthetic), etc.

Bag design notes

What are the silhouettes of the most popular and used bags today?


It is a type of shoulder bag in the shape of a bucket, with a wide opening at the top and an oval or rounded bottom, and a handle or shoulder strap.

Bag design, appunti di progettazione
Bucket, sample by © prototipa


A bag with a metallic insert for snap, knob or button closure. Very used for evening handbags.

Borsa tipo Frame, (il disegno riproduce un modello del 1957)
50's style frame bag, sketch by © prototipa


The carrying bag by definition, with medium-large dimensions, a wide opening at the top and two handles.

Borsa tipo Tote Bag - Foto e realizzazione © prototipa
Tote bag, sample by © prototipa


A shoulder bag in the shape of halfmoon. It usually has a top zip closure and a shoulder strap.

Borsa tipo Hobo Bag - disegno by © prototipa
An example of this kind of bag


Cylindrical bag with zipper and one handle or two short handles.

Borsa tipo Barrel - Foto
Barrel bag, sample by © prototipa


Originally designed for bike carriers (as a backpack alternative), it is a spacious, rectangular-shaped bag with a long adjustable shoulder strap to wear around the body. It can have both horizontal and vertical orientation.

Borsa tipo messenger - Disegno by © prototipa)
Messenger bag, sketch by © prototipa

Clutch (Pochette) + Envelope

This bag with small dimensions, sported between the hands (or between the arm and the body) of the wearer, does not possess any type of shoulder strap.

Borsa tipo Envelope Clutch - Foto e realizzazione © prototipa
Envelope clutch, sample by © prototipa

The bag (pictured) is a variant: the closure assumes exactly the shape of an envelope.


A small handbag with a wrist handle. Similar to clutches in shape but not for size, it can also have a metallic closure.

Borsa tipo Wristlet - disegno by © prototipa
Wristlet bag, sketch by © prototipa

Shoulder bag + crossbody bag

Shoulder bag was conceived in the early ’30s to allow women to have their hands free. It was a small to medium size bag. Today it can also be large and have shoulder handles (or a chain) too.

Crossbody bag is a variant of shoulder bags and has a long, often adjustable shoulder strap.

Historically crossbody bags were born as suitable bags for travellers and people who did a tiring job, like peasants.

Women have preferred crossbody bags at any time they have wanted to emphasize the role of equality in society, as during suffragettes movement at the beginning of the 20th Century, or during the feminist movement in the 60’s.

Borsa tipo Crossbody - foto e realizzazione © prototipa
Crossbody bag, sample by © prototipa


A bag with eyelets and cord closure at the top. This kind of bag can form a shoulder strap or provide for a separate one.

Borsa tipo Drawstring - disegno by © prototipa
Drawstring bag, sketch by © prototipa


A bag with a double shoulder strap to wear on shoulders.

Borsa tipo Backpack - Disegno by © prototipa
Backpack, sketch by © prototipa


Square or cupolform bag, with a wide and flat bottom, and two short handles. The bottom usually rests on metallic or plastic feets. It can have different sizes. It is one of the most current and revisited bag forms.

Borsa tipo Bolide - Disegno by © prototipa
Typical form of a "bolide" bag, sketch by © prototipa

A curiosity: “Bolide” bag by Hermès, presented in 1923, will be the first zip-closure bag in history. The idea was born in 1916, when during a visit in the United States, he had observed the closure system of Cadillac convertibles.

Luggage handle

A bag with a stiff handle.

Borsa tipo Luggage (Disegno by © prototipa)
Luggage handle bag, sketch by © prototipa
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