I am slightly obsessed with them, but in reverse: I wish to own very few, and need them to work with me. They're not arm candy; they're arm vitamins. No longer having a car means I'm hauling that bag for hours, so it has to be light, with a strap that gives support.
Unable to tolerate a leather bag bigger than a grapefruit means my material of choice has changed, so I seek casual bags of lightweight materials. These are the bag equivalent of the young-adult novel: I didn't think I'd like them, but I've been pleasantly surprised.
Assuming you already know the more familiar brands (Le SportSac, Baggelini, Mosey) I will place, in the Passage's windows, some lesser-known models.
Karine Dupont designs both bright and neutral bags in a strong nylon; though her spring/summer collection is not yet online, this Winter '14 Sac Bandoulière introduces her aesthetic: multi-pocket bags you will see on stylish Parisienne shoulders. Available in two sizes, from €79. (Her leather bags are terrific too!)
I have been in the Paris boutique many times and left empty-handed, overwhelmed by choice!
Groom is another Paris treasure. You can now find their marvelous, hard-wearing bags online; spendy but worth it. The nylon models launder superbly. The Capuccio Medium sling sings in rich, gorgeous colours as well as neutrals; €109.
Here's another superb maker of lightweight bags, whom I discovered last year: Highway, based in New York. Made of nylon, nylon and leather, or coated canvas, they have earned a spot in the Museum of Modern Art Store. The S09-23 model shown in sage/turquoise is $103:
You can also find selected Highway models on the MoMA Store's site.
The canvas tote —if it doesn't get ratty—can attend most any casual gathering. Classically cool and dead cheap (though admittedly basic), this Montréal airport model from Monumental Love is an example of a beloved genre; price, $35.
Québec textile artist Cynthia DM makes intensely-hued bags which she screens with nature motifs in a range of styles, a graceful, functional entry in the arty genre without being twee. Shown, "bag with flap; teal with birds" price, $90.
I'm charmed by her "triangle bag-bicycle" with a bike and antique keys, $90.
For summer, an elegant linen tote from Paris-based firm Ikabags with various interior leather pocket and lining options. Price, about $120.
My few remaining full-leather bags are like finicky vintage sports cars: I take them out for a ride only occasionally, for short trips.
One of the bag styles shown, or a small change purse that drops into a pocket seems to be the new order, though I still pause before a luscious leather bag display... but only to look.