Nov 14, 2017

The SSG Tote Review Part II: Chuchka's Onyx 2.0 Tote.

Today's post is a follow up to something I wrote last year comparing a few of my favourite totes.

The star of today's review is a neoprene tote from Bondi brand Chuchka's current collection.  There was a bit of interest about a review / comparison to The Other Brand (that I shall name later) on Instagram when I breathlessly posted this photo so I thought today would be a good day to oblige.

As you've probably gathered by now, I'm not usually a woman who needs a reason to buy a new bag but sometimes it's good for my conscience to be able to demonstrate that a new purchase was made to replace something that had succumbed to the rigours of daily life with me.  This Waitrose hessian shopper was my work tote bag.  It's traveled to work faithfully with me for the last 5 years lugging countless lunches, office supplies and notes on my shoulder.  This gaping hole has been widening as the weeks have passed so I took the plunge last week and began the search for a new work tote.

Chuchka's Onyx 2.0 Tote ($109 AUD plain, $140 personalized in one of three ways, see link for details) caught my eye for several reasons:
- the monochrome marbled body would work with what I usuall wear to work
- the white sides add a bit more interest which I otherwise tend to avoid in bags I take to work, I'm usually all about dark colours
- personalization....  need I say more?
- the price point is very fair for a bag that's going to be put through a bit
- Chuchka is a local business and their vision of providing affordable, well-made interpretations of items a Sydney-sider's (adopted or otherwise) wardrobe has to have appealed to me.

Without further ado, this is my Onyx 2.0 tote with my monogram. It arrived in less than a fortnight after the order was placed.  

I know that many will be curious about how this bag compares to State of Escape's Escape Tote ($299 - $329 AUD) which I also own and use regularly so I will get around to discussing my thoughts on the two later on in the post.   Remind me if I forget...

Back to the Onyx 2.0.

Initial impressions
- arrived packaged in a sturdy cloth drawstring dustbag
- the bag is fully lined with fabric and has two internal pockets that run the length of the bag (about 35cm as a guestimate when I placed it next to my current work handbag)
- there is a magnetic button top closure and two side ones that allow you to gather the sides of the bag, they appear quite secure from this week's test run
- included with the bag is an insert for the base of the bag to prevent sag and retain its shape
- additional storage space comes in the shape of an electric navy blue zippered pouch that's a decent size and that can also be clipped to the side of the bag internally as shown below
- shoulder straps are wide, soft and comfortable.

I really do like the idea of two internal pockets as well as the pouch.  One of the problems with large totes and that have found with the Escape is that things get lost very quickly once they're placed inside it.  Also, the pouch included with the Onyx 2.0 is more practical for me in terms of what I can store in it... spare pens, mints, lip balm, hair elastics, a spare pair of hands....  They'd all fit with ease.  Except perhaps that last one.  Could get a bit messy.

And now for the comparison...


The Escape and Onyx 2.0 are roughly the same size but from what you can see above, the Escape has a fair bit more sag to it.  Its age (year plus) could be a factor but even when it was new, that slouchiness (which I love) was there.  The Onyx 2.0 looks more structured possibly due to that base insert, its neoprene being thicker and stiffer and the bag also being brand new.

On appearances, despite their similar basic structure, the Onyx 2.0 seems a bit more dressed up.

There actually is a bit of a difference in strap length with the longer pair belonging to the Onyx 2.0.  Promotional shots show the bag being worn handheld mainly but it's also very comfortable worn on the shoulder.

But SSG, why the price difference?  One is practically twice the price of the other.

Readers, my 2 cents reads thus:
- the Escape is made in Australia and its neoprene feels different.  It is thinner but this is also its strength in terms of durability.  The overall finish of the bag is reflected in its price.  The rope straps are sealed off under the bag and the trims are all very sturdy and well stitched in.  
- while I love my Escape, I also love the Onyx 2.0 (made in China) for the things that the Escape lacks: large internal pockets, a top closure, a large detachable zippered pouch, the longer and wider handles as well as the interesting designs and colour combinations.  That last issue is probably a moot point because the State of Escape aesthetic is more about understatement with its subtle but distinctive range of colourways.
- Chuchka's other point of difference is the persoanlization that is available on selected bags in its range.  You know me, love seeing those intials wherever they can be placed...

Final thoughts
- I'm very happy with the Onyx 2.0 for work.  Its pricepoint is fair for the quality of the product.
- I found the rope handles on both bags equally uncomfortable if carried for long distances on the shoulder with the bag full of stuff.  That being said, the Onyx 2.0 sat better on account of its body being stiffer.  I tend to use these totes to get from A-B rather than as a carry everywhere with me kind of bag if this makes sense.
- If you are a person who machine washes bags, I think the deceptive simplicity of the Escape would be the better option.  It has few moving parts so would be a snap to wash and line dry.  I can imagine that the lining and interior pockets of the Onyx 2.0 would be more of a challenge in this area.

Meanwhile over at State of Escape HQ....

via State of Escape

The Guise collection has just launched.  So much want and so much need.

Are you a neoprene bag fan but not a Sydney-sider?  They just seem to have cult following here that I haven't seen anywhere else...

I hope this review was of some help.  Any questions, please comment and I will do my best.

1 comment:

  1. Oh thanks so much for this post SSG! I have seen so many of the neoprene totes around and wondered about the differences, this was a nice comparison. I think I'll need to look into it soonish, the cotton bag I use to take things to and from work is starting to really show wear and with the design on it I don't think it's machine washable :(

    Hope you are having a lovely week so far :)


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