Gentlewoman Bag In Singapore
In such a small country like Singapore, viral trends and topics spread fast. And when it comes to fashion, it’s certainly not an exaggeration. If you still haven’t caught on yet, yes, we’re talking about the Gentlewoman bag.
For the uninitiated, Gentlewoman is a Thai fashion brand that launched in 2018. Since Thailand is a major tourist destination for Singaporeans, many have visited the Gentlewoman stores there and brought back souvenirs, specifically the Gentlewoman tote bag, for their friends.
In case you’re still wondering what exactly is the Gentlewoman bag
Images courtesy of Nicole Yong and Tan Jou Teng
These bags are recognised by their signature large logo printed on the front. While there are many variations, the most popular style is the simple monochrome. The bags have become such a common sighting that an Instagram account named @gentlewomanbaginsg was recently launched just to post sightings of these bags around our Little Red Dot, with snarky captions to boot.
With over 3,000 followers now, the account has sparked debate among many Singaporeans. Is owning a basic bag really such a big deal, and who are actually affected by this account? We spoke to nine girls in Singapore to weigh in their opinion on the bag and if they would still carry it today.
Some names have been altered to protect the identities of our interviewees.
For the Gentlewoman bag
1. “The bag’s colour and minimalistic design fits my style”
Chie carrying the Gentlewoman bag while out with her friends
Image courtesy of Chie
“I own two Gentlewoman bags. The first one is the mini shoulder bag, which I got as a gift, and the second is a tote bag that I bought for myself during my recent trip to Bangkok.
I often use the mini sling bag when I go out to meet my friends because it is easy to match with any outfit. Meanwhile, I use the big tote bag for work, and it can store many things such as my laptop, wires and chargers.
I tend to wear clothes that are either white, black or cream, so the bag’s colour and design fits my style. All of my girl friends who have gone to Bangkok have bought at least one product from the GentleWoman stores there.
I can’t say that I’m not affected by the stereotypes surrounding this bag now. I feel more self-conscious whenever I carry it around, especially with the trending Instagram account. The account is pretty absurd and it shows how immature some people can be. People should have the right to carry whatever they want — whether it is basic or not.
Despite an account making me feel like I shouldn’t be carrying it around, I will still carry it. No one should be made to feel ashamed of what they like.”
Advice to others who feel conscious about carrying the bag: “There is no need to be self-conscious. Even if you are photographed, at least you can look good rocking your bag.”
— Chie, 25
2. “Using a public Instagram account to call people out for using a bag is very pathetic”
Image courtesy of Shash
“I don’t own a Gentlewoman bag, but I do agree that the bag is very popular and is a common sighting in Singapore. I am not someone who believes that something should be seen negatively due to its popularity.
If the only thing people have qualms with about the bag is that it’s too basic, then I think they need to exercise better critical thinking. They should decide if they actually like the bag or not, rather than use it to stroke their own individuality complex.
Using a public Instagram account to call people out for using a bag is very pathetic. Of course, I too have had these types of judgements, but unlike the creator of this account, I tell my friends about it rather than publicly shame people.
This account is so popular because people love to think that they are a truly unique individual that is better than the general Singaporean. The bag is not a style I would personally carry, but the creation of this account has made me consider buying it to stand with Gentlewoman bag-owners who just want to live their lives in peace.”
Advice to others who feel conscious about carrying the bag: “You are much cooler than someone who cares about what bags other people are carrying to make an entire Instagram account out of it.”
— Shash, 24
3. “I paid for the bag with my own money, so I’m going to just use it”
Jing Ying and her Gentlewoman bag
Images courtesy of Jing Ying
“I bought a small Gentlewoman bag back in August 2022 when my friend who was overseas helped to buy it for me. Though it looks small, I can put a lot of things in it, such as my lipstick, passport, wallet and more.
I did come across the Instagram account and to be honest, the first thing I did was scroll through all of their pictures to see if I was featured. If I were to be photographed, I think it’d be quite funny, like an “oh they caught me too” moment. Hiding behind anonymity and being able to crack jokes about things seem to gain the attention of many Singaporeans.
The bag is quite basic, but I also think that it’s meant to be basic — they are generally either white or black after all. The account is fine too — just like how girls call out guys who wear their NS or UNIQLO shirts, it’s just meant to be a joke.
I’m not very much affected by this stereotype — I paid for the bag with my own money, so I’m going to just use it. Why would I stop because of what people think?”
Advice to others who feel conscious about carrying the bag: “Just do what you want and carry whatever bag you like!”
— Jing Ying, 25
4. “It’s okay to have the same bag as others as long as it serves its purpose and looks good”
Stella and her Gentlewoman bag
Images courtesy of Stella
“I just bought a Gentlewoman bag last week on Carousell and have yet to use it. I like the design and how it looked on others when I saw people around me carrying it.
I think the viral Instagram account is all for fun, so I’m personally not affected by it. Just like how everyone used to own a Kanken bag, it’s okay to have the same bag as others, as long as it serves its purpose and looks good.
I can understand why people might be affected by the stereotypes, since it might be embarrassing to be publicly called out. However, for me, I will share the account’s posts and laugh at them because the captions are sometimes creative and funny.
The account brought attention to the amount of girls carrying the bag, and I’ll still carry mine as long as it looks good with my outfit.”
Advice to others who feel conscious about carrying the bag: “If you think that you slay with the bag, then just wear it and keep slaying.”
— Stella, 24
Against the Gentlewoman bag
5. “Too many people have the same thing, so I don’t feel like it’s exclusive anymore”
Image courtesy of Gladys
“I had the Gentlewoman tote bag, but I eventually sold it because I was seeing too many girls wearing the bag. I used to carry it with me everywhere because the design matched all of my outfits.
I first saw the Gentlewoman bag on social media. It’s pretty affordable and was the right size for me. At that point of time, there weren’t a lot of people carrying the brand yet. I don’t think that there’s any stereotype of carrying this bag, just that everyone suddenly has it and they like the brand. But we’re living in Singapore, and trends come and go so fast.
Calling people out for carrying the bag is so unnecessary. If you’re going to do this for the Gentlewoman bag, why not do it for UNIQLO’s or Beyond The Vines’ bags too? If I were to be photographed, I’d feel embarrassed. Knowing that this bag now is disliked by everyone, I won’t want to bring it out anymore because people will assume that I’m basic.
Though their faces aren’t shown, can you imagine the people who carry the bag seeing their photos posted online without consent? They’d feel so insecure about it next time, because it has been made a laughing stock.
I wouldn’t carry the bag anymore, not because of the account, but because I don’t feel like it’s exclusive.”
Advice to others who feel conscious about carrying the bag: “Don’t let others’ words affect you. It’s just a bag and no one’s going to remember it in 10 years’ time. If you like it, own it. If you don’t, then just give it away to someone else who appreciates it.”
— Gladys, 26
6. “It looks just like any other tote bag to me and I don’t understand the hype”
Image courtesy of Alicia
“I was exposed to the Gentlewoman brand recently when I started seeing everyone carrying the bag out of nowhere. It’s now too much of a commodity and I don’t want to jump in on the trend. Also, it looks just like any other tote bag to me. I don’t understand the hype.
I think the stereotype affects me because it deters me from getting one. The brand became more accessible with travel restrictions opening up, eventually becoming a must-buy item in Bangkok. It’s also probably because KOLs started carrying them first.
I don’t think the viral Instagram account was created in good fun if the people being photographed don’t find it fun. It makes people who own the bag even more afraid of carrying it out. Why do they need to be judged for something they happily purchased?
I think carrying the bag has been a discussion topic for most Gen Zs since it’s everywhere, so the account leveraged on that with its relatability. I didn’t want to carry the bag from the start, but the account solidifies the judgement people face from carrying it.”
Advice to others who feel conscious about carrying the bag: “You do you. So long as you like the bag, it really doesn’t matter what people think.”
— Alicia, 26
7. “I’ve heard some people say that it’s a bit of an ah lian bag”
“I thought the Gentlewoman bag was a New Yorker knockoff at first. I don’t own it, since I prefer long bags to wide bags. I don’t think any of my friends own this bag either. I’ve heard some people say it’s a bit of an ah lian bag and it’s become a bandwagon trend. It’s like the ADLV shirt of bags now.
I think it’s funny how many times a day I see this bag while walking around town, but I think the viral Instagram account’s comments are not it. They don’t seem like they were written in good fun. You can judge what I wear or carry, but you don’t have to be rude about it online. Sometimes, Singaporeans are just mean. I still won’t carry the bag, since I’m not a fan of how it looks.”
Advice to others who feel conscious about carrying the bag: “To each their own! Carry the bag if you want.”
— Hannah, 26
8. “I personally steer away from brands that are widespread among girls in Singapore”
Image courtesy of Angie
“I’ve never really considered buying the Gentlewoman bag because I’m not a huge fan of the designs. But I’m aware of the hate that has been going around.
Gentlewoman really took Singapore by storm and blew up out of nowhere. I think people naturally fear falling behind and like to stay in trend. I personally steer away from brands that are widespread among girls in Singapore, just because I prefer to explore more unique styles.
This isn’t the first time an account was made to call out people like this. A few years ago, something similar happened when Anello bags were on the rise. I think these types of accounts are disruptive and revolve around hate. The rise in their popularity will spur the same type of hate among the community who would have been neutral parties if not for the account.
It’s also incredibly disturbing to secretly photograph people in public without their consent. I would feel extremely uncomfortable if I found out that someone had secretly taken a photo of me and uploaded it to social media.
I wouldn’t want to carry the bag even more now. I’m self conscious and I wouldn’t want to run the risk of drawing unnecessary attention to myself.”
Advice to others who feel conscious about carrying the bag: “You deserve to feel happy and proud of how you look, and a bunch of keyboard warriors shouldn’t be able to take that away from you.”
— Angie, 22
9. “I would rather buy a bag from Taobao instead”
“I considered buying the Gentlewoman bag when I first saw it because I thought it was cute and I wanted to try a new style. I eventually decided against it as the design wasn’t as pleasing as I expected it to be. To be frank, I would rather buy a bag from Taobao instead.
It might be popular because the brand name “Gentlewoman” reminds me of the eyewear brand “Gentle Monster”, so I initially thought that there was a correlation between the two. I’m sure there are others who have thought the same.
The viral Instagram account is quite funny and I think it has made me more aware of the amount of Gentlewoman bags around me. It has become so basic that I was told that I would definitely buy something from Gentlewoman when I went on a trip to Bangkok. I did not.
I have mixed feelings about the account, as I would actually repost if I were to be featured, since the account owner is respectful enough to censor faces. But then, I’d also feel creeped out with the knowledge that someone took a photo of me without my consent.”
Advice to others who feel conscious about carrying the bag: “I don’t think you should be wary of what others say. If everyone can wear UNIQLO on the daily and not be called out, I don’t see why an account taking photos of bags spotted in town should affect you.”
— Pearly, 28
The Rise Of The Gentlewoman Bag Popularity Has Sparked Debate Among Singaporeans
While the girls we spoke to have differing opinions on whether the viral Instagram account should be taken lightly or not, they all share a common advice: don’t let others’ opinion affect you from wearing whatever you want.
At the end of the day, the Gentlewoman bag is just another fashion trend that will eventually die down until the next one arises. There’s no reason to shame others for buying things that make them happy.
Cover images courtesy of the interviewees.