The New Straphangers

Georgia Bobley, a 21-year-old student, was walking around the East Village the other day wearing a brown Foley + Corinna Mid City tote that features the latest thing in New York accessorizing: convertible straps. “Sometimes I wear it as a messenger so I can put more in it and wear it comfortably,” Ms. Bobley said. “Or for evening, I can take the long strap off, fold it over and use it as a clutch.”

A few blocks away, Lauren Vassallo, a 21-year-old student, said of her black multi-strapped Marc by Marc Jacobs Classic Q City tote: “I love the versatility of it. You can take it to class, work or out at night. It’s like three bags in one!”

The styles vary widely, but the basic idea is the same: any bag can be worn several different ways. Which is good, because they ain’t cheap!
“With this economy, people are looking for core pieces that are durable and can go with more,” said a sales rep at Prada, which this season features a convertible strap on the Buckle tote ($995), as well as on the Vitello Daino tote ($1,595).

“They’re actually all we’re selling,” said a salesperson at Bloomingdale’s in Soho. “All the designers are making them—Tory Burch, Chloé, Coach, everyone really.”  Also: Antik Batik, Bottega Veneta, Chloé, Dolce & Gabbana. “About half our bags have the options,” said a sales rep at Michael Kors in Soho. Their Gansevoort Large Vertical bag from Michael by Michael Kors ($498), which can be worn has a messenger, on the shoulder, or held with a short handle, has sold out in several colors.

Meanwhile Gucci Large Darwin Leather Backpack ($3,350) morphs into a satchel, and Alexander Wang’s Trudy tote ($825) has zippers on both sides that, when pulled up, make the bag more compact and suitable for evening. “I mean, it makes sense,” Ms. Vassallo said. “If you’re going to spend a lot on a bag these days, you might as well get a lot out of it.”

sbarbour@observer.com