The Murse Project, China

I thought of doing a photo series on the “man purse” in China only after I had seen dozens of different dudes sportin’ their girlfriends’ bags as if they were their own… I now have 20 or so images of Chinese men carrying purses, which is too much to put all in one post so I’ve chosen some of my favorite pics to kick off this ongoing series:

I love the look this guy is giving me like “Who, me? I’m just carrying it because it’s too heavy for my girlfriend!” But I think a lot of Chinese guys coerce their girlfriends into letting them carrying the purse because they genuinely love it… They love feeling a little girlish and feminine but simultaneously having the excuse that they are just being chivalrous. I’d argue that one of the biggest perks for Chinese men is getting to carry their girlfriend’s bag, although I doubt any would admit it.

And if the bag is conspicuous, the perk is even bigger!! That’s because such a purse allows the carrier to put on a sort of sartorial charade, feigning a higher economic status that has become the norm in China. Such peripheral luxury goods have homogenized a whole class of Chinese citizens, and it’s seemingly happening to the same extent in second-tier cities like ChongQing (where this picture was taken) that it happens in first-tier cities like Shanghai and Beijing.

But this trend seemingly spans all of the Chinese mainland, as I found this guy in the southwestern province of Yunnan rockin’ a ruffled pink leather number. At least it’s not conspicuous in the way that Burberry Tartan and LV Monogram bags are, but it certainly stuck out from the crowd because of its juxtaposition with its carrier. But he didn’t seem to mind the extra attention, and I would dare say he quite enjoyed it on many levels.