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how to improve on a messenger bag

December 29, 2021

how to improve on a messenger bag

if you stop to think about it, you lug a ton in your everyday life... day after day. week after week. year after year after year. to work, to run errands, to meet up with friends, to travel. does your go-to bag ever start to drag you down after a few hours? get in your way? does it chafe your shoulder or your neck? does it bruise your hip? can you find what you need quickly or do you find yourself digging endlessly?  

i designed the wonder messenger bag to be better than that, because we deserve better. i designed a messenger bag that can hold it all while also being extremely light, easy to wear and cleverly organized inside and out. function and style. i need this bag in my life, and so do you. let me show you why… 

designed to hold it all! 

in my early sketches for the wonder, my overall intention was to improve on the classic messenger bag  — which is so ubiquitous on the sidewalks of new york city that it seems like everyone from actual messengers to students to daily commuters carries one. after all, it makes sense. the messenger bag is the practical, utilitarian solution to a crossbody work bag, which is why you see so many nondescript laptop messenger bags out there. from canvas messenger bags to leather messenger bags, they all start to look alike after a while. so why not take the best characteristics of your basic messenger bag, make them better and add some style? 

i started with the shape. the wonder’s silhouette is less rectangular than your typical laptop messenger bag but that’s just one feature that sets it apart. its silky, water-resistant exterior and plush feel help to make it both more refined and more relaxed. measuring a generous 15.5” h x 14” l x 5.5” d — slightly deeper than wide, the wonder is roomy enough for most needs without fear of it becoming more bag than you need. also, it has no flap to add unnecessary weight and bulk. honestly, i prefer the clean, simple, modern aesthetic of a more streamlined, pared back messenger bag. to my mind, the best messenger bag looks exactly like the wonder! 

within the shortyLOVE collection, the wonder is larger than the amuse crossbody bag but smaller than the boxer backpack — and you can load it up with just about everything you need for the day.

how best to use it?

i pack my wonder for everyday use  - pilates, the office, the airport — look how much it holds! unlike a smaller messenger bag, the roomy main compartment provides ample space for a water bottle, shoes, devices, chargers, other valuables and even a change of clothes, which is why i often rely on the wonder as my gym bag and my tennis bag. throw it on and go! [pro tip:  i keep my wonder pre-packed with my workout gear, so I can go at a moment’s notice before i start making excuses not to. it pays to know yourself — excuses are too easy!]

the wonder also features a convenient, padded laptop pocket with an adjustable closure that fits up to a 13 inch laptop or macbook — also ideal for your iPad, tablet or e-book. my wonder has accompanied me on flights many times, so i can report from experience that it’s the perfect travel bag. it’s light and keeps my technology close to me while offering exterior pockets that keep my credentials and a credit card handy in airport security and coffee shop lines. easy access is everything when your hands are full and your flight number was just called! 

from work to workout to weekender, you can begin to see how a bag like the wonder can adapt itself to many different situations. it’s also designed to adapt to your situation by offering you options.

wear or carry? both! 

we humans may be creatures of habit most of the time but we want choices every now and then! if that sounds like you, good news: i designed choice into the wonder. it’s a convertible bag, meaning you can decide the best way to take it with you when you head out. you can wear it as a crossbody messenger bag, a shoulder bag, or remove the adjustable strap made of soft, woven nylon and take it with you as a top-handle carry bag. it’s really like having three bags in one! i designed the crossbody strap to wear comfortably over the shoulder without digging in or always sliding off. i usually take my wonder with me as a crossbody style, but sometimes i do want to carry it by the handle. my mantra is ‘you do you’ in the moment! 

because it’s so light, the wonder is comfortable to wear even when it’s full. from weekdays to weekends, it never slows me down. when i wear it as a crossbody messenger to free my hands, i sometimes forget it’s even on. if only i could forget my to-do list as easily! bonus: the wonder lays flat when empty, so you can easily tuck it into a drawer or a suitcase, and you can also nest smaller shortyLOVE bags inside it and zip them away [if you’re tight on space, this is a real plus].

pockets pockets pockets 

you can’t design a bag with a large capacity and not consider organization, so i made sure the wonder offers plenty of storage options to keep you organized on the go. on the exterior: a front zippered pocket gives you quick access to your wallet, earbuds, charging cables, keys and whatnot. on the back, a slide pocket with snap closure secures notebooks, magazines, paperwork or even a tennis racquet. inside the wonder, a pop-red patch pocket holds a cell phone and a pop-red zippered pocket secures smaller items. perhaps handiest of all, the top zipper opens extra wide so you can easily find what you’re looking for in your bag — i believe none of us should never have to dig for what we need ever again!

better materials 

i love a bag that offers practicality but freely admit that i also want it to be stylish. there’s no shame in that! that led me to spend a lot of time sourcing the materials that went into my bags, including our bestselling wonder. when it comes to hardware, I really wanted to make a statement. that’s why you’ll find sturdy, oversized metal zippers on the exterior pocket and at the top. i think the waxed cotton cord pulls are the perfect finishing touch. our high-quality, water-resistant nylon twill is fabricated to look and feel like the high-end italian fabrics used in big-name designer brands: durable but with a wearable, soft drape and feminine aesthetic. i didn’t scrimp when it came to the inside. the lining i chose is a luxurious, silky to the touch blush nylon — selected because a lighter shade interior allows you to quickly spot what you’re looking for. so even though it looks fabulous, there’s a practical reason for it! 

made for real life

do you have room in your busy life for a precious handbag you have to worry over every time you take it out? while i can appreciate the craft that goes into collector’s items, i don’t have the time or the energy to baby those kind of bags. they’re too needy! shortyLOVE bags are not precious women’s handbags. i designed them to be worn all day every day, by real people who live real lives and long for practicality combined with style. 

unlike a stiff, awkward canvas bag, the body of the wonder is not just attractive but soft and plush. when was canvas ever soft? never! not to mention canvas shows every mark. unlike genuine leather or even faux leather, the smooth nylon wonder molds itself to your body and has the advantage of soft, slightly rounded corners that won’t dig into your hip — extra important when you carry a laptop with you. it’s crafted with structured internal padding to hold the shape and add to the soft, plush, almost quilted feel. i want it to be a joy, not a chore, to throw on your wonder and head out for the day!

i got my start designing women’s handbags at marc jacobs in new york. from shoulder bags to crossbody bags, from tote bag to hobo bags, from satchels to backpacks, from bucket bags to messenger bags, over the years I learned that durability is essential when it comes to designing bags for use on a daily basis. most of us want to invest in something that lasts when shopping for a handbag — including me. that’s why i thought it was a must to add a circular stitch detail at the pressure points for more strength where the strap meets the body of the bag. those are the spots where wear and tear occurs the most when it comes to your typical shoulder bag or crossbody bag. problem solved!  

upkeep is another thing i insist on simplifying when it comes to redesigning the classic messenger bag. nobody wants a bag that’s impossible to keep clean — including me. keeping the wonder looking fresh and sophisticated is easy: just spot clean with mild detergent and water, then air dry. let’s keep it simple.

something i never expected! 

i love reading the reviews shortyLOVE bag owners leave for me  and i’ve learned from wonder owners something i could never have predicted: moms in particular love this bag! they love the size. they love the organization. they even love something as simple as the removable and adjustable shoulder strap. new moms tell me they love the wonder as a more chic diaper bag. and moms with toddlers report tell me they love being able to cart their kid’s stuff around in addition to their own — the snacks, the toys, the inevitable wipes. heck, i have high schoolers and i still carry things for them in my wonder when i attend their games!

that said, the wonder is not strictly a women’s messenger bag. the look is designed to be classic, stylish, unisex, never trendy. men and women are buying this bag and i'm pretty proud of that. our two camo patterns, grey and green, are especially popular with both.

where did the name come from?

 i’ve spent a lot of time going to and from work on the sidewalks of new york city. people-watching just comes with the territory in manhattan. the people i pass are always so chic (they make it look effortless), always look like they’re on a mission (no distractions), and always in a hurry (city life!). where are they headed? i wonder. what’s in their bag? i wonder. i designed this bag for them.  

— xo sloane

sloane gibney grossberg is the founder of and sole designer for shortyLOVE. a jersey girl always and forever, she’s devoted to her husband and two children, stays close to her sisters, walks her dogs daily, falls hard for a smarter bag, and feels very fortunate to design them for a living. 
sloane got her start as senior designer for the marc jacobs collection in 2002, moving up three years later to take the creative reins of marc by marc jacobs handbags and accessories for a decade. noting an unmet demand for stylish bags that could help streamline busy days, she launched shortyLOVE in 2018.