The small round shoulder bag comes in a range of colors: black, ivory, burnt orange, dark green and teal. In true Uniqlo style, each piece is stacked flat into a display box on a table piled high with knitwear in a similar spectrum. Its inconspicuous, space-saving properties are apparent from the get-go. I grab an orange one and head for the till, 20 euro note in hand, ready to redeem my change for the coffee I now owe my plus-one.
The next morning, it’s time to road-test this baby. We’re staying at Hotel Rochechouart in Montmartre and we’ve planned a morning exploring the area before heading back to Gare du Nord and home to London. In the interest of experimentation, I go bold and lay out everything I need for both.
Despite being on the move a lot, I’m a serial over-packer and rarely go anywhere without a large bottle of water. I’ve long since given up trying to squeeze it into my existing handbags and usually end up carrying a tote as my flight bag with an overspill of items I may or may not need. This game of Jenga is not ideal when the ‘one item of hand luggage’ rule comes into play at Heathrow, or when it takes more than a single tray to house my carry-on ‘essentials’ as they pass security. Could this bag be the remedy to my first-world problems?
The bottle of water fits, as does my wallet, passport, hand sanitizer, mask, mini sun cream, sunglasses case…I’m starting to think Hermione Granger’s cast the Undetectable Extension Charm on this deceptively spacious design.
Can I get my book inside, too? The answer is yes. Mission accomplished, zip closed.
Aside from its price, the best thing about this unisex bag is how light it is when empty. A feature often overlooked, especially when shopping online, it makes the weight of travel essentials manageable. Comfort is also key. The curved shape sits close to the body and offers a feeling of security. It’s lightly padded, fitted with an adjustable wide, webbed shoulder strap and has a water-repellent nylon exterior that can be wiped clean with a damp cloth.