For those of us who never travel lightly, the tote bag is a year-round must-have accessory. This past fall, woven totes in particular were thriving in the luxury fashion sphere. Consider Bottega Veneta’s totes, purses and clutches made of woven napa leather, Pour La Victoire’s woven multi-colored totes in leather and PVC and Sensi Studio’s Maxi woven toquilla straw tote.
Plus, the item has become a must-have for shoppers, as many cities across the country have passed measures limiting the use of – or, in some cases – outright banning plastic bags from retail stores and supermarkets. This is especially prevalent in California, where the state legislature recently passed a law that essentially forces consumers to carry re-usable tote bags into stores with them.
Promotional suppliers are taking notice of the fashion and legal trends that are helping increase the popularity of woven totes. Debco (asi/48885) carries several woven totes, including the laminated jute tote (E6708) and the polypropylene woven tote (TO4258).
“Our woven totes are very popular with eco-conscious consumers.” - Alex Morin, Debco
“Our woven totes are very popular with eco-conscious consumers,” says Alex Morin, Debco’s executive vice president of sales and marketing. “Tourism boards and travel companies gravitate towards them because of their eco-friendly natural materials.”
Philadelphia Rapid Transit (asi/77945) currently offers several woven straw totes and will expand offerings next year. “We’ll offer additional colors, but we’ll still have black and natural straw because most clients are looking for the traditional style,” says Vice President David Goldman. “They don’t want jewels, funky handles or crazy colors because they need to match clients’ branding, but they do want them to accommodate a number of large items, including a yoga mat, towel, book and wide-brimmed hat. They’re a perfect fit for the yoga, beach, pool and lake markets.”
While Debco’s affordable jute and polypropylene totes feature a tight weave that’s ideal for full-color process printing, the supplier’s straw counterpart comes with certain limitations. Woven totes often start at $10 to $20 wholesale, says Goldman, and can only accommodate a few decoration techniques; he suggests embroidered patches or hangtags. Finally, they’re expensive to ship, especially from overseas, because they don’t lie flat.
“In general, these work better as a high-end giveaway,” Goldman advises. “Consider them for a trip with million-dollar sales reps, or for showing appreciation to senior VIPs. Distributors have to be realistic, but as long as they’re creative and the client is motivated, they can make something work.”
Morin expects that suppliers will continue to add features to woven totes to make them increasingly appealing. “Over the next year or two, they’ll continue to mimic retail trends,” he says, “so we’ll see metal name plates, more elaborate handles and the ability to carry multiple electronic devices securely and conveniently.”