Put a bird on it (K/R Armani man bag)

The zipper has broken on the black leather sling bag I have been using for the last couple of seasons. This is a major setback. The thing never made much sense aesthetically, but it was nice to wear and incredibly useful. A poorly made but lovable item that made itself indispensable. I am considering repairing it, which will probably be messy and not worth the effort. Rather like the selfies from my mobile phone.

The frog purse i posted earlier is very wearable. Too wearable, if such a thing were possible. It ticks all the usability boxes, but it is a poor team player, too distinctive for daily use. If I’m not careful, it will become a signature.

I need to find an alternative, a hands free arrangement that I can wear under a jacket. Something small and flexible, almost but not quite a cross body man-bag. Larger slings and chest bags are generally too bulky, and the current fanny pack trend looks terrible on me.

I have said many times, bags are a problem. I think of them as luggage, and am always looking for functionality, which invariably means compromising my stylistic impulses somewhere down the line. Also, I dislike panic purchasing. I would sooner let things turn up rather than shop to fill a niche. Mostly, I do just that. This time, the failure needs to be rectified.

So I looked around and ordered this thing here, on a deep discount with promotional extras, and I doubt I could do better for the price unless I get very lucky. A stylistic wild card that fulfills all my functional requirements:


I never imagined I would wear Armani, but there is lots to love about this bag. It is compact and tactile, lush like a little cushion. It wears well from many angles, although it may need tweaking to get it working how I want it. I was drawn to its unique appearance from the get-go, and while I was hoping for black I can happily live with this blue. Almost KLM blue, in fact. Come to think of it, the eagle logo makes it look like a miniature flight bag. Also available in olive drab, which is more versatile but less appealing. Given the choice between Top Gun and Airplane, I choose Airplane every time. Insert ongoing Great Planes gag and a multi-layered fashion joke which nobody gets but me.

So why is this a keep or return?

  1. This is not a replacement for the sling, but an alternative to the frog purse. It is not a neutral option. It makes a bit of a statement. It goes with many things, but not with everything. Mr Edge said he thought it looked a bit boxy, but correctly pointed out that if I liked it, his opinion was irrelevant. I can see myself wearing it all summer, then swapping to something else when the weather cools down and the winter wardrobe kicks in. If I keep it, I will still be shopping for another sling, but less urgently.
  2. Not wild about the strap. An arrangement that doubles as a belt or shoulder bag was a major selling point, and the bag works well both ways, but the strap is way too long. It feels like it may rub in some wearing configurations. The quick release buckle is a mixed blessing, so bulky and awkward I had to convince myself it was fitted correctly. If this is a keeper, at the very least the strap will need shortening so that the buckle sits closer to the bag and does not clash with my collar. This is a simple alteration, not a fix I can do myself but I know a man who can.
  3. For reasons I cannot quite fathom, I feel very odd about wearing the visible branding, and I have no idea why. Maybe it makes me feel like an imposter, or maybe the brand is wearing me. No logo should ever intrude on product design, even though this is nicely done. The question is, if I am going to be anybody’s walking advertisement, why should it be Armani? This is not a club I belong to, and I never will. That bird will have to do an awful lot of work.

My inclination is to keep it and wear it without alterations, and either alter it or pass it on depending on how I feel about it. I may even learn to love the strap as it is, along with the rampaging imposter syndrome.

What do you guys think? 

Yay: it’s cute and a keeper. Pretend you’ve joined the mile high club!

Nay: too much logo and the strap is annoying. Keep looking!

Seen here with a kimono jacket, with which it plays very nicely thank you.

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.


  • Staysfit replied 2 years ago

    Hmm, a tough call, although I weigh how you feel as being more important than anything else on your list, as you said: “For reasons I cannot quite fathom, I feel very odd….”  Everything else you say sounds like ways to adjust, compromise and talk yourself into something you do not love.

  • Lana replied 2 years ago

    I had to laugh at “his opinion was irrelevant.” 

    As far as aesthetics go, I like how it looks, but I am the same about visible branding.  At least it’s not the word Armani and I’m not sure many people will even realize the significance of the bird. 

    I have a bag that has a envelope zipper on the front, and at times I’ve turned it around backwards for a plainer look if I’ve got other things going on in the outfit.  That’s an option if it bothers you. 

  • rachylou replied 2 years ago

    I’m gonna vote Yay because I have a belt bag for my phone that I think is ugly and annoying because of an inner pocket that makes it difficult to get the phone in and a useless touchscreen window. I nevertheless use it when I wear something without pockets because it’s still awful useful and pretty ignorable. I like the blue of your bag and think the Armani eagle is American Eagle, haha - and it’s not a contrasting colour logo.

  • approprio replied 2 years ago

    Staysfit, right or wrong, that is some excellent psychology! I think the problem is the exact opposite: that I am very taken with this bag, and am having to overcome my irrational fear of branding as a result. Is that what you call cognitive dissonance?

    Lana: the bag is one sided, so reversal is not an option, although this is  a design feature I really do like. Since there is usually lots going on in my summer looks, the graphic is not really a problem in itself. I will probably want something more neutral in the winter. 

  • Mary Beth (formerly LBD) replied 2 years ago

    My thoughts:

    I lived on Okinawa for six years, 2001-2007, with occasional visits to Tokyo. When I look at your Buffalo Kawaii aesthetic, I recognize that it was present in Japanese culture even then. I wouldn’t have called it a fringe trend, more of a cool subculture, the way Vivienne Westwood punk has always been quietly present and relevant in the west, after punk/New Wave died down.

    In the BK aesthetic, I see a dash of whimsy and anime, I see rugged and useful, I see simplicity. I see mobility and adventure. I see a love for old, well-made rugged pieces, and I see time-stamps: the 1990s throwback chunky shoes. A sort of 1970s slouch to the jacket. There is a sense of coolness and irony, like you’re rolling your eyes at your dad’s jokes, even as you’re pulling his decades-old jacket out of the closet to wear. Because it’s cool. Your dad isn’t cool, but his jacket definitely is.

    I think your BK wardrobe photos fit this bill: cool, simple, world traveller, mobile… and the frog bag is that dash of whimsy.

    The Armani bag feels like a big dash of 1960s-theme irony. I think it would work, as long as you have an option on the days you want to feel lighter, not as grounded. If that makes sense?

    The only thing giving me pause is that you wrote a very long post and I’m not reading your conviction that this Armani bag is The One.

    I vote for an experimental style lab!

  • approprio replied 2 years ago

    Rachylou, we cross posted there. That is my thinking exactly. I’m wearing it around the house today, it fits really well and even that stupid buckle is starting to make sense. Might just be a keeper after all.

    However, you got me pondering the concept of ignorable. Ignorable was the quality I liked about the sling. 

  • approprio replied 2 years ago

    Mary Beth, hehe, the shopping process prompted a massive ramble about luxury semiotics, which I may just post if nobody stops me. I think you’re right about the bag though. It might just work. 

  • Zaeobi replied 2 years ago

    I think you could indeed pull off this sling bag in the way mentioned above but, I *also* think you need to think about the bigger picture - how many sling bags do you need? Of course this number is different for everyone in terms of personal lifestyle & functional differences, so only *you* can decide whether 3 bags will be used enough to justify the cost-benefit (for the frog, Armani & now the future plain replacement).

    I can't advise you on whether to keep the Armani bag (see above lol), but I *can* give a suggestion for the latter bag's replacement - Etsy!

    I'd recommend first thinking about *exactly* what you're looking for, in terms of the strap, material, & size (measure the Armani bag if you have to!) Then search for 'belt bag' & 'fanny pack' with your particular parameters - I see everything from athletic JanSport & custom hemp cloth styles to RennFaire tool belts & sleeker leather looks there. Many shops allow you to customise their styles too (I've seen some offering different hardware & additional pockets, if that interests you?)

    TL;DR: f you're willing to pay for Armani, I'd recommend getting a custom-made bag off Etsy (for a similar/ cheaper price) so you can have it made to your exact needs instead. It'll more likely become an essential that way :)

  • approprio replied 2 years ago

    Zaeobi: I hear you. This *is* exactly what I’m looking for. And you know what? It’s still Armani. I went all over Etsy until my eyes watered, and I kept coming back to this darn thing. And now I have to ask myself if I’m willing to suck it up. ;)

    If and when I replace the sling, it will probably come from Etsy. Meanwhile, this may be an Armani bag, but not at an Armani price. If it passes muster, it could be the work horse i need it to be. 

  • Irina replied 2 years ago

    I don’t like logos and visible branding myself, so I understand. But this design looks whimsical enough to absorb branding into it. This is a statement but for those who appreciate the slightly ironic, quietly unusual things. I also appreciate that the bag looks genderless. I vote keep.

  • Zaeobi replied 2 years ago

    Ahh, I see - I wasn't sure where you had landed after the original meandering but, if you still want both the Armani *&* another sling bag for more discreet days, then go for it! :) Maybe an Armani Outfit Lab is in order?

  • approprio replied 2 years ago

    Irina: thanks! I think you just summed up perfectly what I like about this bag. Unusual, slightly ironic, utterly genderless. 

    Zaeobi: right. The added wrinkle is that I need something more or less immediately, since I will be traveling again at the end of the month. Etsy had some candidates, but also a lead time, delivery costs and no returns. 

    This is why I hate emergency shopping. Ho hum. 

  • JAileen replied 2 years ago

    I don’t like logos at all.  I love the unique hardware on the back - very clever.  In my search for a solution to having enough pockets for birding in the heat, I bought a small waist pack.  It turns out it has a logo, too. And a bird.  Oh well.

  • BlueJay replied 2 years ago

    I like the colour and that it is "compact and tactile, lush like a little cushion"! Any time I can't get something out of my head means I need to get it. :)  Keep!

    I don't like obvious branding on items either. Unless I looked at this closely though, I don't think I would have clued in that it was Armani.  

  • slim cat replied 2 years ago

    If you were coming back to the bag - it means it was "calling" you. It looks great on you and goes with black color and denim pieces easily - keep it ;) .

  • cat2 replied 2 years ago

    I would keep. It’s not covered with initials, or a distinctive print, and given everything else you have going on no one is going to think you have turned into a fashion victim.

  • approprio replied 2 years ago

    Everyone, thanks for helping me overcome my pathological fear of the dreaded Logo. I’ve been test driving it a bit today, and it’s looking more and more like a keeper. On wearing, it seems to work equally well as a waist bag or across the body. The belt is slightly awkward to adjust, but once it’s on, it’s on.

     too funny! That looks like a neat waist pack though, nice color and materials. Great for birding. And yes to the hardware! When I started stalking this item, I googled a few images from other vendors and the detail on the back was a selling point.

    BlueJay, slim cat: that emotional call is a good sign, isn’t it? Has to be said, it does seem to be a good mixer so far. I tried it with the vintage Kenzo bomber jacket and almost cut the tags there and then. 

    cat2: fashion victim? Moi?? Surely you jest, muwahahaha! But yeah, you’re right. The branding is not *that* obvious, so it should find its way into the mix. 

  • RobinF replied 2 years ago

    I like the way it looks and wouldn't have known that was a logo. Is is easy to get things in and out of? I'd say if it works functionally then keep.

  • merwoman replied 2 years ago

    It’s a lovely shade of blue, it’s functional, you like it….keep and enjoy!

  • Runcarla replied 2 years ago

    Glad you are leaning towards keeping it.  It looks like an imminently useful piece, and in my mind practicality trumps logo.  (Frankly, that’s a pretty subtle logo.)

  • Jaime replied 2 years ago

    I mean they did put a bird on it. The joke so subtle and time travelling yet amusing and no one will get it! Who could resist that? 

  • Bijou replied 2 years ago

    I vote yay because it is a cool bag. The Japanese embrace their designer labels. I love the design, colour and it looks a good size.  I must confess, I have an Emporio Armani bag myself (in Finds) and like the bird logo.

  • approprio replied 2 years ago

    It is done. I cut the tags and took it for a walk, and the verdict is, so far, so good. Not the all-rounder I was hoping for, but it fills the gap with style. It wears really nicely, particularly good with casual summer looks, with the added bonus of encouraging me to dress properly again. 

    Robin, RC, merwoman, you’re all quite right. I am probably quibbling about nothing. 

    Jaime, well I do so love an obscure fashion gag. Just for you, I coaxed an acceptable shot out of my mobile phone. Not as easy as it looks these days, but your awesome thrifting selfies are putting me to shame ;)

    Bijou, thanks for the encouragement. And that is a cute bag. Has to be said, Armani use their branding very skillfully in their designs. So much so that they actually got me wearing it. Their luggage looked very nice across the board, in fact. 

    Thank you all so much for the feedback. 

  • rachylou replied 2 years ago

    Yah, I really like it! :)

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