By  on July 19, 2010

PARIS — Enter the all-terrain man-bag.

For spring, designer labels are beefing up men's pocketbooks and offering rugged backpacks and other outerwear-inspired satchels.

European brands including Lanvin, Dries Van Noten, Prada, Marni, Dunhill, Gucci, Gaspard Yurkievich and Emporio Armani all sent sportswear-inspired bags down the runway, with a focus on action-packed accessorizing.

"What I like about the backpack is the idea of movement in the way it's carried, something that is not too precious. It's transferable from the back to the shoulder or held in your hand like a shopping bag," said Lanvin men's wear designer Lucas Ossendrijver, who sports a nylon knapsack he picked up at a flea market in Japan.

Ossendrijver brought backpacks back for fall and for spring parlayed his penchant for utilitarian accessories into a range of multipurpose fanny packs made from recycled nylon and equipped with zippers and straps.

"There's something more masculine about it, which allows us to use precious leathers or jacquard prints, but because of its shape it doesn’t look delicate and is still unique," he said.

"I wanted to experiment with the rucksack," added Marni’s Consuelo Castiglioni. "[Traditionally] known as a functional outerwear accessory, [it] is transformed into a more formal piece and used in an urban context."

To that end, Marni showed a range of leather and canvas bags for spring.

Since, according to retailers, men's accessories represent a growth opportunity, it's little surprise buyers are tapping the tried-and-tested bag category.

"It's always been part of the man's wardrobe, not just because of the practical element, but there’s something iconic and very masculine, which can be traced back to his Boy Scout days," said Stephen Ayres, buying manager for men's wear at Liberty.

"It's a key trend, although it is a difficult item to convert at retail due to high price points for the category. It still is not seen as a luxury item," added Richard Johnson, men's wear buying manager for Harvey Nichols.

To that end, designers made sure their backpacks looked more dapper than day-tripper. A model in a crisp business shirt at Dries Van Noten carried a Tyrolean-like backpack at his side.

"We loved the idea that a backpack could not only be purely functional and sturdy, yet equally luxuriously fragile," Van Noten said. "What seems rough and ready to others has the intimacy of butter-soft calfskin, a quality only tangible to and witnessed by the owner."

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