Photo: Jonas Ekblom/The Tab

The five bags you see at UCL

We decided to take a look at what you can tell from UCL-ers by the bags on their back.

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From the nerds and the fashion geeks, the hipsters and the not-so-hipsters, to the people that kinda just want something that takes their books from A to B, it turns out your bag is doing all the talking for you.

The Functional


The classic signs of the functional is the colour: black, in a slight shiny nylon or other dirt-resistant fabric possibly killing the environment.

If not a sports manufacturer logo, these are most often emblazoned with a computer manufacturer, proudly flaunting a preference for the oh so sexy HP laptops. Swallows gym swag, five textbooks and your pack lunch. Best bit? These bags are usually at least half the size of the person carrying it.


The conscious tote

Photo: Jonas Ekblom/The Tab

Far removed from the functional nylon is the Fairtrade cotton in this conscious tote. But beware: this tote is not like that free one you got at Sainsbury’s, no. This bag has carefully been chosen to represent its wearer.

The signifier of a literary English student or the globetrotter who can’t wait to go back to Paris. A statement in a bag, no more, no less. Honorary mention to the Senate House totes that are the only reason you got your Senate House Library card to buy.


The Herschel

Photo: Jonas Ekblom/The Tab

Delving deeper and deeper into hipster territory, the American Herschel is our third choice. A mix between functional and fairtrade tote, this bag has sufficient ergonomic qualities to please your chiropractor uncle as well as your frightening fashion model cousin.

While not being able to accommodate your collection of vinyls, this bag will give you enough New York flair to think you are almost walking down Brooklyn Bridge. But alas, it’s just Tottenham Court Road.


The Fjällräven

Photo: Jonas Ekblom/The Tab

From the country that gave you your couch “Härnösand” and your bookshelf “Borgsjö” comes the backpack that defined a generation; something that takes nylon and makes it into something wonderful.

Or just something crap ugly with straps that are too thin for your own good and starts digging into your shoulders after one textbook four steps from home.It is none other than the totally pronounceable “Fjällräven Kånken”. (A Scandinavian department course in Swedish is optional though perhaps necessary.)


The luxury brand

Photo: Jonas Ekblom/The Tab

These are the crème de la crème, the leather that has been tanned and smothered in Dom Perignon for a year or so. It is the Guccis and the Louis Vuittons and the WHY THE HELL DO YOU NEED A TWO THOUSAND POUND SCHOOLBAG?-bags. This bag gives you both pangs of guilt towards the children in need as well as pangs of jealousy. Honarary mention to the oh so prolific Longchamp bags, though sadly disqualified for not costing as much as a perfectly decent used car