Apr 14, 2016

The 80% Bag. Totes I Own : A Head To Head Comparison.

Readers, you can say what you like about Twitter but to me?  It's the Shazam of handbags.
If trying to establish the brand, style and availability of a particular handbag has ever kept you awake at night; put it to Twitter.  Because someone in your twitterverse is bound to have all the intel you're looking for.

Allow me give you context.

Image from The Finer Things.

There was this one bag.  On an awful lot of shoulders down at the shops lately.  We'd walk past each other, catch each other's eye across crowded cafes...  That kind of thing.

What piqued my interest about this particular bag was that it wasn't a one trick pony.  I'd see it paired with active wear, paired with a Baby Bjorn, paired with a trolley sized Dan's run (or, less colloquially speaking, a trolley full of discounted quality alcohol from our local Dan Murphy's bottle shop), paired with the most gorgeous labrador I've ever met....  Paired with all manner of things the variety of which impressed me for the one bag.

The bag, poolside.
It was devoid of monograms and a bit different from other totes I already own.  It seemed to only come in navy, grey or charcoal but that wasn't necessarily a problem for me because they were colours I actually lack in the tote department of my bag wardrobe.  I browsed online, popped into all the usual suspects at Westfield but no dice.


Then Twitter, specifically the wonderful @plategotate (she of the bomb dot com recipes, especially that sausage roll one) came to the rescue and all was revealed.  The Bag is an Escape tote ($299 AUD)  made by State of Escape, an Australian brand that's so of the moment, The Daily Mail  have profiled its creators Brigitte MacGowan and Desley Maidment.

What's especially lovely about State of Escape is that the bags are made in Australia.  They feature neoprene bodies and sailing rope details at their base and in the shoulder straps.  I bought mine online from State of Escape's website but Incu and Bassike are stockists of the brand in Sydney.

After much deliberation, I went with pewter.  Apologies for the dodgy yellow toned lighting of these photos.  It was just after dinner at our place last night and I was taking these photos in that golden hour where winding down with a Wiggles DVD gives me a few minutes to myself.

The bags come with a small, detachable zippered pouch.  The finish is superb and the State of Escape tags are rubberized rather than fabric.

Here's an interior shot.  Roomy and not so deep as to condemn anything you wish to put into your Escape bag to being lost forever in its depths.  Alternate colourways of the bag offer neon bright contrasting colour options for the interior.

And now to put the Escape to the test and submit it to the rigors of a day out and about with a preschooler.  I bought the bag to replace an ageing nappy bag and a battered canvas enviro shopper bag that I'd been using to take our essentials out with us.

What a difference three years makes!  This is all I have to carry around with me these days (in addition to a handbag, I'm finally able to carry a handbag again, hurrah!!):

  • drink bottles for all
  • a damp face washer in a zip lock bag
  • wipes, there ain't a thing you can't clean with a wipe...
  • an edit of Preschooler SSG's wardrobe and lots of plastic bags (because Toilet Training)
  • my lunch (it's Murphy's law that anything I pack for Preschooler SSG will be the thing he least wants to eat for lunch...)
  • that pack of Target footless tights that I'm still dithering about returning.

Because there's nothing better than a bit of head to head trialling of tote bags on a rainy Thursday, I thought I might compare how my other totes fair when carrying the same test load.  Quite a few friends on Twitter and Instagram have been considering purchasing the Escape tote themselves and were curious to see how it compared size wise to some of the other Big Names in the category.  Key areas I thought might be of interest are: roominess, accessibility of things once in the bag, comfort when carrying (straps and total weight), how the filled bag looks when worn (closest conditions I could reliable replicate for each bag was to hang each over a doorknob at home)  and any unique advantages or disadvantages of each bag.

Study population

  • LV 'Neverfull GM'
  • State of Escape 'Escape'
  • Longchamp 'Le Pliage'
  • Goyard 'Anjou PM'

From the top to compare openings and straps.

From the side to compare slouch, width and any adjustable side details.

So, without further ado.

The Escape by State of Escape

Roominess: plenty of room to spare even after I put all my gear in.
Accessibility: because its wide rather than deep, I found it easy to find things.  I'm generally not a fan of zip top totes so the Escape's opening is perfect for me.

Comfort when carrying: very!  The rope didn't cut into my shoulders as much as I thought it would.  Because the neoprene body is so soft, it wasn't a bulky bag to lug around, despite what I put into it.  It didn't feel heavy at all.  The shoulder opening isn't as wide as some other bags (LV Neverfull, Longchamp Le Pliage) but this worked in its favour as the bag didn't slip off my shoulders.

The bag when filled:

The Escape hanging with side buttons fastened.

I'm a 'have to see everything at all times' kind of tote carrier so I prefer carrying with the buttons undone.

The Escape hanging with side buttons unfastened.

Other thoughts: 

  • Sugar Mumma wasn't exaggerating when she called the Escape her 80% bag.  Its design and fabric lend the bag to practically every aspect of a woman's daily life.  
  • Easy to care for, spot clean or cold wash (machine or hand).
  • Sounds expensive but relative to the other Big Names, good value for the quality of materials used and finish of the product.
  • Wide range of practical colours that go with everything.
  • It's great to be able to support an Australian label.

Louis Vuitton's Neverfull GM (early Mon Monogram edition)

I got this bag monogrammed with Preschooler SSG's initials when he was born.  It gets used alot and has somehow improved in appearance with age with its leather taking on a patina while the blue lining seems to have aged not a bit over the last three years.

Roominess: again, lots of room to spare.  Possibly more than with the Escape but the Neverfull is a deeper bag.
Accessibility: because the monogram canvas is fairly stiff, it's still easy to find things in this relatively deep bag.

Comfort when carrying: the straps are thinnish and flat rather than rolled which can make them a little uncomfortable in newer bags if you're carrying it full and heavy for long periods of time.  It does seem to hold weight well though.  Because its stiffer than the Escape, it can feel a bit bulky when toting it around as you chase your preschooler.  I tend to use my Neverfull for the gym or if I'm travelling on my own.

The bag when filled:

Again, I carry it with the side straps released.

Other thoughts:
  • One of my favourite designs from Louis Vuitton.
  • A bit of a classic.
  • Options to personalise.
  • Colour options limited to house canvas colours.
  • I've just checked on the LV website and the GM size now comes with a matching monogrammed detachable pouch.  Hmmm....  there's always room for one more Neverfull at SSG Manor....  But, I digress.
Goyard's 'Anjou PM'

I never intended this bag to be used as an everyday with preschooler kind of bag but have included it in the trial because its smaller than the other totes featured.

Roominess: um, not really.  The bag's practically full with just the test load.
Comfort when carrying: Goyard make wonderfully light bags and the Anjou's thick leather shoulder straps are very comfortable despite being flat.  But the bag does feel clumsy under the shoulder when its as full as in the above photo.

Other thoughts:

  • beautiful bag but best used in the PM size just for personal belongings like keys, phone and a makeup bag.
  • pricy, as the Anjou is leather lined, I am probably more careful with it than my other bags.  I'm too nervous to reverse it and carry the leather on the outside.  Kind of defeats the purpose, though.  Never mind.
  • it's my 20% bag to the Escape's 80%.
Longchamp's Le Pliage

Another one of those classically shaped bags.  I bought this at the Longchamp store in Paris.  Another of the sentimental favourites in my collection.

Personally, I've never used Le Pliage as a baby or toddler bag.  I find it too deep and slouchy to be practical for my personality.  I'm a bag collector, of course I rate bags on how well they match my personality.  Doesn't everyone?


Just nicely full with the test load.  Enough spare room to store an extra cardigan or two.  Or even an impulse bribe related purchase of a spendy European branded toy car (anything to keep the peace in the middle of a crowded shopping centre).  Or a little something from Priceline.  Or both, even.

Comfort when carrying

  • Shoulder straps are rolled and quite long compared to the other totes I've discussed.  It does sit nicely on the shoulders but I find one strap or the other slips down when the bag is zipped up.
  • Bag is lightweight and folds up for travelling but this means a degree of structured-ness is foregone when in use.  It's great for lugging things around but not if you need to find anything in a hurry.  
  • There is a side pocket inside the bag for smaller things but this is not secured with a zip.

Other thoughts:

  • Fairly nicely priced for an 'All the Big Names' bag.
  • Comes in a wide variety of colours and sizes.
  • Is the only tote I've reviewed that zips closed (reviewer more biased to open topped totes).
Concluding comments:
  • Escape, you're my 80% bag.
  • Anjou and Neverfull, you're my 20% bag between you.
  • Le Pliage, you'll always remind me of Paris in the spring time.
Over to you, do you have an 80% bag?  Is it the Escape?  

I'd love to hear your own experiences with the tote bags in your collection.  Your comments often help other readers too and I hope this post has been of some help to you.


  1. THIS is the best bag review I have ever read!!! So glad you love it!!! x

  2. I've an LV speedy bag. Black. Wanna buy?
    I have handbags I regularly use. One for work, a little one for day outings, and a going out one.

  3. I've heard great things about the Escape tote - mostly from Sugar Mama! I really liked this review SSG, thank you! :)

    Sadly I don't think this is the tote for me, being similar in size to the GM neverfull int he photos. The GM is just to big for my short self. Not like I'm needing another handbag though really... ;)

    Away From The Blue Blog

  4. I think it looks lovely and great for all those water based things you Oz ladies can do. In the UK it would be fab for rain. Totes wear me rather than the other way around so I tend to avoid them. I look like a tote on legs with one on my shoulder.

  5. I've heard wonderful things Abt this bag! My 80% bag is the longchamp Le pliage but sometimes I feel is not big enough! Hahahha will see if this bag delivers to Hk! Might give it ago :) excellent review on tote bags btw!

  6. Late to this post, after just discovering. So interesting to read your thoughts on the LV Neverfull and the Goyard. Have been tempted by both of these, to date but haven't succumbed. Do love the yellow Goyard though. Would go for this colour too - or maybe red. But it is expensive and not really good for air travel because it has no zip!
    The Longchamp pliage is on the other hand great for air travel as the zip keeps the contents secure when passing through the security x-ray tunnel. I also have the extra large size (the largest you can take as cabin baggage) folded up inside the regular pliage when travelling. If I have too much hand stuff and the airport people shake their heads and say two bags only - I take this out and pop the other bags inside and zip. It's wonderful and the bag itself is light of course. Best wishes, Pammie

  7. Absolutely fantastic posting! Lots of useful information and inspiration, both of which we all need!Relay appreciate your work. certified organic skincare

  8. Very informative review! Does the Escape bag hold heavy items well? Being the material that it is, I'm worried that the rope or the neoprene body can't hold heavy things very well and will stretch over time. Do you experience any of those issues at all?



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