Why the PS1 by Proenza Schouler Is the Best Back-to-Work Bag

Why the PS1 by Proenza Schouler Is the Best Back-to-Work Bag
Why the PS1 by Proenza Schouler Is the Best Back-to-Work Bag/courtesy of Facebook

The commute from home to work has resumed. We’ll all be carrying our bags like sacks of potatoes rather than totes full of battered laptops, chewed-on pens, and soggy lunches sooner rather than later. If it wasn’t clear already, I’m not a big fan of commuting. Because I have to, I’d like to do it in style. I’m not a fan of tote bags because they’re too flimsy and weak for me. Of course, for corporate 9-to-5s, a fun pochette is out of the question. Sure, a Louis Vuitton Saint Jacques Epi bag would be lovely, but I need something that can expand and contract with ease. The rigid leather of the Epi isn’t ideal for stuffing running sneakers into! So, what have I learned? Proenza Schouler’s PS1 could be the quintessential, stylish back-to-work bag.

The piece is open and airy, with a carefree attitude. It’s a sophisticated messenger bag that isn’t overly structured or angular. Despite this, the PS1 is made of thick leather that can withstand the daily rigors of a commute. There’s also the nostalgia factor to consider. The bag encapsulates the tail end of the excessive noughties at the end of the 2000s, much like the Balenciaga Motorcycle bag.

The PS1 was released in 2008, and it was quietly distributed among Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough’s stylish circle of friends, including Mary-Kate Olsen, who had a suede and python version. The bag arrived just as a slew of less-than-flashy but incredibly durable bags, such as the aforementioned Motorcycle bag and Chloe’s Paddington, began to make waves. Fashion writer Florence Kane wrote about the big boom in the November 2008 issue of Vogue. In the article, Hernandez says, “This is the anti-It-bag.” “It-bags sometimes lack a certain subtlety,” McCollough adds. “They’ve veered away from the usual designer trappings; the pieces aren’t littered with logos or weighed down by hardware,” Kane wrote. Instead, details like the moiré print lining and the simple knot in each strap distinguish them.”

Vogue.com editor Chioma Nnadi describes the bag as “a little bit schoolgirl but downtown…. I remember getting a satchel bag because it was similar in shape.” (She also mentions Serena Van Der Woodsen, who famously wore the PS1 on Gossip Girl.) This most likely contributed to the bag’s academic associations). After attending a Teen Vogue panel featuring Hernandez and McCollough, fashion news editor Sarah Spellings became obsessed with the bag. “It was just so cool to me.” “I liked how it didn’t have a label,” Spellings says. “After coveting Chanel, Louis Vuitton, and Coach logo bags, it felt like a cleanse.” “It made me feel like I was in the know.” Janelle Okwodu, a senior fashion writer and style editor, had the yellow version, which she described as “glorious.” Christian Allaire, a fashion and style writer, says, “It takes me back to my Tumblr days.”

I discovered a trove of threads coveting the bag in its heyday on thefashionspot.com, a beloved late-aughts site. Back in 2008, the user Kimair may have said it best. “I really like how un-designer these are.” Thirteen years later, I’d like to get my hands on an anthracite medium version. It has enough room for my laptop and whatever else I might need for the day. Although it is a time capsule bag, it still has a lot of punch.

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