Get carried away with a stylish shopper

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 14 October, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 14 October, 2009, 12:00am

I have known a few men - not close friends - who are always clinging to plastic bags. No, they're not keen grocery shoppers, they just use plastic bags to carry everything: their books, their wallets, and sometimes bones they pick up from restaurants so they can feed their dogs for free.

What puzzles me is why. Unsightliness aside, plastic bags break easily, you can't carry them on your shoulders, and they make an annoying, rustling noise. How difficult would it be just to get a proper bag - even if it's a HK$20 hold-all from the corner store?

When plastic bags inevitably break, scattering these men's pork bones or whatever they're carrying, they end up in the rubbish. And they remain in landfills for many years to come.

So I am thrilled to notice a growing trend for reusable grocery bags. Besides saving the world, you get to put your groceries in a bag of your choice and not whatever the supermarkets give you, which in most cases is mundane and dull.

There is no excuse. Every supermarket now offers reusable grocery bags for sale at the cashier. They are not the most interesting looking things, so if you are unsure, stick to plain designs and colours. In fact, I spotted a bright red number at Wellcome I almost wanted to buy. It would go quite easily with jeans, or my bright yellow swimming trunks (at the beach, of course).

But I didn't buy it because swimming season is almost over and I already have a mountain of reusable bags from different fashion brands.

That's right, you don't even have to buy them. Many fashion boutiques now put your purchases into fibre bags that you can keep using for other purposes. Spy Henry Lau used to give out black reusable bags with the brand name in metal studs. For a long time I kept one as my dog's bag, for carrying its water bowl, leash and other essentials. But to my disappointment those bags have been discontinued and replaced by fibre bags of a much more ordinary design. It actually makes me less inclined to shop there.

Happily, adidas has launched a Bling Pack series of products, which are a glittery take on the classic three-stripe design that made the brand globally recognisable. To complete the package, they all come in a Bling tote bag (right), which I think would make a perfect grocery bag for men who are fun-loving and have their own sense of style. The brand also has a range of reusable shopping bags, featuring athletic-inspired motifs ranging from sneakers to bicycles.

French fashion brand APC, known for its urban casualwear, is giving out tote bags with a sound-wave pattern (right). The design of this bag is so nice you'll want to reuse it every chance you get.

Hello Kitty has always been a touchy subject with me. Let's just say that I do not take kindly to people over 30 who say they like Hello Kitty. A former colleague was coerced by his girlfriend into carrying a Hello Kitty lunchbox to work, which blemished his otherwise smart personality.

To each their own, however, and if you do find Hello Kitty irresistible, Intermezzo is giving you an opportunity to indulge. This autumn, the brand is offering a new limited edition Adult Kitty polo shirt, featuring the minx in a trench coat and sunglasses, but still no mouth! The novelty fashion item comes with a black reusable shopping bag, with Adult Kitty prominently displayed. Maybe it's not for me, but I can imagine a man with boyish good looks pulling it off, possibly wearing a black polo shirt with a pair of Abercrombie & Fitch distressed jeans.

A truly delightful find I made the other day was an little unassuming store in Central called, rather unoriginally, Recycled. I particularly love their brightly-coloured bags made from rice sacks. The prints are retro-Hong Kong, featuring designs inspired by what look like fabricated old-fashioned rice brands. They are colourful, fun, and rather unique.

Of course, G.O.D. is one brand that has made a name out of redesigning old Hong Kong icons. I am not sure if I would buy a pseudo amah bag for several hundred dollars, but no one can dispute the brand's creativity and good ideas. A rather tame design from G.O.D. is this reusable green bag that says 'Recycle Now, Delay No More' (left). It's direct and the design is reserved enough to be suitable for men who aren't quite ready for bling, Hello Kitty or funky amah bags.

Shopping list:

Adidas, 6B Kingston St, Causeway Bay, tel: 2504 2186

APC, 66 Paterson St, Causeway Bay, tel: 2895 6623

G.O.D., G48 Hollywood Rd, Central, tel: 2805 1876

Intermezzo, Harbour City Gateway, TST, tel: 2175 4123

Recycled, 50 Gage St, Central, tel: 2191 6865.

Spy Henry Lau, 11 Sharp St East, Causeway Bay, tel: 2893 7799