AMAN needs a handbag like a fish needs a bicycle - at least according to traditional gentleman's outfitters Gieves and Hawkes. Retail manager Benny Fung said the outfitters would never carry the trendiest addition to a man's wardrobe of accessories - the handbag. ''It is not a traditional item, and it is not popular with gentlemen,'' he said. ''They always wear a suit or a traditional jacket, and it is not part of the look.'' Mr Fung said the bags were much more popular with Europeans. ''European people are more casual, they don't always wear suits, sometimes they will wear a jacket or a blouson. It's a different look,'' Mr Fung said. Hong Kong is not known for its modern attitudes towards equality of the sexes, and ''new men'' are few and far between. However, despite the prevalence of machismo in the territory, men's handbags are becoming increasingly popular with local residents. This could be a result of the influence of Europeans living and working in the city, and, in the past year, a significantnumber of local businessmen have been seen carrying the leather pouches. Usually manifested in the shape of a zip-fastened clutch bag, the bags often resemble a bathroom travelling wash-bag. But while they may look as if they hold a can of deodorant and a toothbrush, the bags usually carry a wallet, filofax, calculator, book and any combination of the things a man needs during the day. Still careful to respect the boundaries of the sexes, the handbags come in plain dark ''masculine'' colours, like black and brown, and are usually the size of a woman's clutch bag. They make an attractive and convenient alternative for men to a heavy and bulky briefcase, pockets bulging full of items, and they are safer than carrying a wallet in your pocket, or a filofax bulging with documents in your hand.