Coming Up With the Idea for Our Popular Leather Market Tote

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Since The Market Tote has been our top seller (and my favorite, shhh don’t tell the others) it seemed only fair to share a bit of the design and story behind it!

The Story Behind The Market Tote

One day in the vast research library we also call the Internet, I came across a simple photo of a leather bag that was made like a plastic grocery bag. Soft leather, curved handle openings on the sides, just like those white grocery bags that our grandma collected in her pantry. It intrigued me, but I immediately pictured something sturdier:

Something that would stand up to 2 heads of lettuce, a loaf of bread, bottle of wine, and maybe even a wedge of cheese.

Or a laptop, day planner, novel, jacket and bottle of water.

Or two outfits, a make-up bag, pair of heels and a flat iron.


Are you catching on to my vision yet?


Turning My Leather Market Tote Idea Into a Prototype

I sketched out a rough shape of the handle design and took it to the workshop one evening as we worked on prototypes.

Having the shoulder straps was a must to me. Do you ever have those moments when you need two hands but both are already in use? They happen to all of us. To give it more usability, I also wanted handles in the bag shape itself for easy flow from one carrying style to another.

The smooth flow of the curved handles showed simple yet eye-catching design. The strong and sturdy leather gave practical luxury. I was excited before we even laid out the pattern.

The first prototype came off the sewing machine that evening and I immediately knew that was it. It was the perfect simple shoulder tote with a design edge on all the others. On the second prototype I added about six inches to the length and also made it slightly deeper at the bottom.

The more I looked at it and carried it, I knew it was done.

Sometimes in design, it’s more about knowing when to stop than reaching for one more detail. Perfection is at times elusive, at times so apparent.

Last fall we designed the Mini Market Tote for our daughters. It became our most popular design of the design, so we added it back to our inventory in January, 2017.

This month, we’re launching our regular Market Tote and Mini Market Tote in black, full grain leather for The Black Collection

Shop The Black Market Tote

Shop The Black Mini Market Tote

The Market Tote in Real Life

Soon after I designed this bag, I flew to Denver, Colorado with only my new leather Market Tote to keep me company in-flight. It carried my snacks, extra scarf, chargers and ear-phones as well as books, my laptop and make up bag.

As I stood in line at security, I half-noticed the guy behind me hold his phone out to the side for a second then put it back to his ear, “Hey honey, I’m back. Just had to take a picture of a really cool concept that I want to show you.”

I took so long debating with myself whether to be happy with the compliment or upset that he took a photo of MY BAG without asking that I lost my chance to respond!

Usually people just say, “Hey I love your bag!” Where did you get it? But you know, there’s always that one guy


What’s in my bag?

Meg went shopping at her local markets and came home with a bag full of ingredients for her own spin on Olive Garden’s Zuppa Toscana recipe. See how it all fits in her Market Tote!


Shop the Market Tote.

Shop the Mini Market Tote.

The post Coming Up With the Idea for Our Popular Leather Market Tote appeared first on Urban Southern.

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Comments (1)

Do any of your bags have silver metal or no metal on them?

Thank you,
Joyce Fowler

Joyce Fowler May. 11, 2023

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