The story of the crossbody bag

May 05, 2015

Where does the crossbody bag come from? Handbags across the world now have a variety of different names and serve a multitude of purposes. Sometimes it is difficult to determine which classification a handbag falls under.

This article takes a closer look at both the history of crossbody bags and our own SHERENE MELINDA leather crossbody bag, a design inspired by the crossbody style but with a few other great design elements, which provide the highest level of comfort and functionality.

The crossbody name

Handbags are usually classified primarily by the type of strap/handle they have, and then secondly by their shape and style. The term ‘crossbody’ is fairly self-explanatory and refers to any handbag that uses a longer strap so that the bag can be worn across the body.

The inspiration behind this idea originates from the mission to provide people with bags that could be worn ‘hands free’. One of the earliest examples of this concept can be seen as far back as the 1950’s, when telephone linemen needed a bag to carry their tools but more importantly needed their hands free to climb the telephone poles and conduct their work. This led to the development of a range of bags, designed and promoted by fashion label Globe Canvas/De Martini.

Messenger bag

The hands free concept was also used by messengers or postman as far back as 1860, when the Pony Express mail service adopted the familiar style of wearing a bag across the body for their employees to carry letters and parcels.

The photo above shows a lady messenger arriving at the Foreign Office with an Admiralty despatch. The bags were intended to provide messengers with hands free access so they could ride or drive their bicycles or motorcycles.

The move to fashion

Crossbody bags/messenger bags naturally made the move to the fashion industry thanks to the support of brand Globe Canvas/De Martini and the fact that they were so functional. Both designers and consumers love a fashion accessory that provides them with more usability and of course comfort.

Firstly, the crossbody is very comfortable as the strap distributes weight between the shoulder and back. Secondly, the crossbody bag’s hands free advantage and the size of the bags provide people with more functionality, making them perfect for everyday use. These features helped the crossbody bag become a prominent part of the handbag market.

The SHERENE MELINDA leather crossbody bag

There are several differences between the traditional crossbody bag and our unique and distinctive take on this iconic style of handbag. Firstly, crossbody bags are usually considered to be a casual and everyday bag made with either waterproof materials or plain leather. Our crossbody bags are made with springbok hair-on-hide; the high quality materials used make them luxurious and therefore suitable for both glamorous occasions and everyday use, demonstrating their versatility.

Secondly, the strap of our crossbody bag is generally thicker and wider than most crossbody bags. This, along with the use of fine leather, helps distribute weight not only between the shoulder and back but also along the width of the shoulder. Furthermore, the adjustability of the strap helps you to change its length to be reflective of your height, which again provides more comfort. Although crossbody bags are well known for being comfortable, a little extra thought from us means our crossbody bags are even more so!


Finally, a conventional crossbody bag is well known for being large enough to carry books. This feature was inspired by the messenger bags of the 1800’s, which were obviously designed to be large enough to carry letters and parcels! The SHERENE MELINDA crossbody bag is not only large enough to carry books; each section of our crossbody bag serves a different purpose; the first is intended to act as a handbag – keeping possessions secure within a zipped compartment but still easily accessible, the middle section is intended to provide quick access to your essential items such as glasses, the final section is intended for carrying books (even up to a size A4!) or a laptop.

Read more

We are always looking to grow the collection of knowledge in our blog. If you would like to learn more about the evolution of the tote bag, another iconic style of handbag, then please click here. Not only are we passionate about sharing our knowledge of the fashion industry but equally so we are dedicated to giving you all the latest updates at SHERENE MELINDA.

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