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Aspinal's History of The Messenger Bag

Today it is an essential accessory for the stylish gentleman, but the Messenger Bag is steeped in history; an enduring icon on the fashion landscape. As one of Aspinal of London's key styles, we delved into the history of the messenger bag, from its functional beginnings to its current status as a style staple.

Where it All Began

You may not consider Buffalo Bill a style icon but, as a rider for the Pony Express, he was one of the earliest advocates of the messenger bag. This early creation was crafted from sturdy leather and designed purely with functionality in mind. Much larger in size than its modern counterpart, the first messenger bags were designed to fit over the saddle, however, riders would sling the bag on their shoulders once they dismounted.


Moving from the saddle to the shoulders, the messenger bag proved its versatility and practicality during the Second World War; it was used by numerous factions of servicemen. Primarily crafted from canvas due to material shortages, medics would carry essential supplies and dispatch riders would transport important military orders in their more compact version.

Mail Carriers

Returning to its roots, the messenger bag was utilised to transport mail throughout Europe and the USA. This style has endured the test of time. Worn cross-body to evenly distribute heavy loads of mail, the messenger mail bag is still used by postmen and couriers today.

The Messenger Bag As We Know It

We owe the sleek design we know today to the De Martini Globe Canvas Company. Its' owner, Frank De Martini, began crafting smaller, canvas messenger bags to allow his employees the ability to reach their tools easily when climbing utility poles. This small-scale incarnation featured strap closures and internal pockets and closely resembled modern messenger bags.

A Move Into Fashion

In the 1980s, the messenger bag developed from a functional necessity to a fashion icon. New York designer John Peters redesigned the messenger bag for stylish urbanites in the early 80s. This spawned a trend that saw the messenger bag propelled to the upper echelons of style.

Today's Messenger Bags

The popularity of the messenger bag shows no sign of waning. It answers the need of the contemporary professional looking for a stylish solution to carrying his laptop, iPad and other modern-day necessities. It has become a sophisticated carry-all to rival the traditional brief case.

While the messenger bag retains its functional roots, the introduction of fine leather and premium finishes have introduced an aspect of luxury, completing its journey from a practicalto a stylish essential.

Click here to browse Aspinal of London's selection of Messenger Bags.

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