Bucket bag, LOEWE

In season five of Friends, there's an episode aptly titled "The One With Joey's Bag". The central narrative was of Joey Tribbiani (played by Matt LeBlanc), having received a bag from Jennifer Aniston's Rachel as part of his desire to fit into a role of "a real clothes horse" that he's auditioning for, falling in love with said bag. But of course, given that it was 1999, his friends found every opportunity to ridicule him for even carrying the bag.

You'd think that the bag was in a ghastly shade of pink or a tiny purse that could barely fit anything (even so, there's absolutely nothing wrong with a man wanting to carry either) but in actual fact, it's reminiscent of a top-handle briefcase that's far from extraordinary in today's context.

How times have changed, and thankfully so.

The best bags this season are big. They're made to fit more than just the essentials, with some having the capability to be versatile enough to transition from work bag to gym bag. And of course, because we're all for longterm investments, they're crafted from sturdy and luxurious materials that'll not only last but age well too. From Loewe's latest Pebble Bucket bag to Bottega Veneta's massive tote, we've curated some of the best bags of the season made for every man that you are.

Ear cuff, HERMÈS. Bag, DIOR MEN
Ear cuff, HERMÈS. Tote bag, BOTTEGA VENETA

Photography: Shawn Paul Tan
Styling: Asri Jasman
Grooming: Kenneth Chia using KEVIN.MURPHY and TOM FORD BEAUTY
Photography Assistant: Xie Feng Mao
Styling Assistant: Chua Xin Xuan
Model: Aaron C at MANNEQUIN

Valentino makes a return to the Paris Fashion Week Men's calendar after going back to splitting up its menswear and womenswear shows since the Spring/Summer 2024 season—shown during Milan Fashion Week Men's last year.

For Autumn/Winter 2024, creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli is calling it Valentino Le Ciel. Translated to English, "le ciel" means "sky". Which is interesting given the location of the show: the Monnaie de Paris. It is one of the oldest minting and manufacturing minting institutions in the world with many runway shows and events held there over the years. Could Piccioli attempt to connect the relationship between money and the heavens above? Or would we be seeing a collection completely done in the shade of blue (perhaps with some whites for a visual break) as exemplified in the teasers and the physical invite received?

For any confirmation, stay tuned for the show this Friday. And for an even closer look at the collection, follow @esquiresg on Instagram as we bring you the action live from Paris Fashion Week Men's.

What: Valentino Autumn/Winter 2024 menswear runway show
Where: Paris, France
When: Sunday, 21 January 2024 at 1am Singapore time

We now are familiar with Jacob Elordi as the man who's been seen on the streets with a number of luxury "it" bags. From his pretty impressive Bottega Veneta collection—the Cassette and the Andiamo—to Pharrell's newest iteration of the Louis Vuitton Speedy and even a Chanel bag, Elordi has been making a strong case for bags being essentially genderless.

The man undoubtedly has style and plenty of it.

But aside from his penchant for fresh-off-the-runway bags, Elordi has been slowly expanding his acting repertoire since appearing on Netflix rom-com Kissing Booth (and its two sequels). The actor has a couple of projects releasing in theatres this year with his biggest role to date arguably in Priscilla.

Just how big? Elordi plays the incomparable Elvis Presley—only recently portrayed by Austin Butler.

Priscilla is based on Priscilla Presley's 1985 memoir Elvis and Me. Written, directed and produced by Sofia Coppola, the film focuses on Priscilla and her relationship with Elvis up till his death. Based on the trailer and critics' reviews, it looks to be a contender during next year's film award season.

To help Elordi get into character, Valentino crafted two custom looks for the film. While Elvis may be iconic with his onstage persona and style, the film's more autobiographical perspective meant that a more varied representation of Elvis as a whole was needed. Valentino creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli and Coppola worked together in creating two bespoke looks that truly capture Elvis' insistence on coordinated looks for himself.

The two looks comprise of a three-piece mohair suit in blue as well as a navy camp-collar shirt paired with a pair of black trousers. And inside every piece, a hand-sewn "Valentino for Jacob Elordi" tag highlights the bespoke nature.

Considering that Piccioli is becoming a master at crafting modern menswear while still referencing familiar silhouettes and design tropes, this collaboration exemplifies his capabilities beyond what he's shown on the runway. It's a skill to recreate era-specific fashion while still making them relatable to audiences, and judging by the stills alone, Elordi makes for one stylishly accurate Elvis.

Photo by Mélanie + Ramon

It's easy to assume that a well-recognised brand like Valentino would already part of a fashion conglomerate—it's not. Well, at least not quite. The Italian couture house is owned by Qatari investment fund Mayhoola—backed by the Qatari royal family—since its acquisition in 2012. The group also owns Balmain as well as Italian menswear brand Pal Zileri.

Kering Group is about to change that. The French fashion conglomerate has made an announcement to acquire a 30 per cent shareholding stake of Valentino for EUR1.7 billion. The deal also includes an option for 100 per cent ownership of Valentino that's valid by 2028. While that's still quite a long way to go (should Kering decide to hold out to the very last minute) the potential for the group to exercise that option seems likely.

Valentino reported a revenue of EUR1.42 billion for 2022, a 10 per cent increase from the year before. That may not be much as compared to Kering-owned luxury houses, but it's a significant increase as compared to top-earner Gucci's revenue bump for the same period. Gucci reported an 8 per cent increase in revenue for 2022, while Saint Laurent and Bottega Veneta each experienced double-digit percentage growth.

Fully acquiring Valentino could help Kering tap into its couture-buying clientele. But more than that, a Kering-backed Valentino could signal a different future for the couture house.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Valentino (@maisonvalentino)

Couture to ready-to-wear

Valentino's strength lies in its dreamy couture creations. It's the bedrock of the house that informs its other lines. And while the aspirational messaging is clear and undoubtedly beautiful, it often doesn't translate as efficiently across the more relatively affordable ready-to-wear creations. Kering's involvement could help strengthen Valentino's messaging and ensure a more intentional consistency across every facet of the house's overall universe and (hopefully) without impeding the awe-inspiring creativity of its haute couture.

Collaborations may be ramped up

It's not that Valentino is a stranger to collaborations—remember the one with Birkenstocks and Undercover in 2019?—but rather, it hasn't really capitalised on it much. Not being involved in many collaborations isn't a bad thing either but being part of a group like Kering, a bit more may be in store. Kering-owned brands Gucci and Balenciaga are big on collaborations—they've even partnered up in 2021 for an unprecedented two-prong series—and Valentino could probably do the same.

We're not expecting a random Disney-led collaboration either. Kering doesn't seem to be one to force an unlikely collaboration, finding partnerships that align with a brand's aesthetic such as Balenciaga with Crocs, and Saint Laurent's many artistic-led collaborations outside of fashion.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Valentino (@maisonvalentino)

Eyewear moves in-house

Kering Group has its own eyewear division that manufactures eyewear for its luxury houses as well as those outside of its umbrella of brands. Valentino is currently in a 10-year agreement with Switzerland-based Akoni Group that's slated to end in July 2032. Being part of Kering could see Valentino's eyewear manufacturing move in-house with a more focused narrative that seeks to strengthen the overall messaging of the house.

A creative shake-up

This may not be ideal but seeing how Kering—and counterpart LVMH—tends to operate, there could be a potential change in the creative director seat eventually. But hopefully, this ranks low in Kering's priority when it comes to making Valentino a force to be reckoned with.