How Tom Matlack took the road from Kenneth Cole to Meichi Peng man bags—and stayed manly in the process.
There is a great divide among men: to carry a handbag or refuse out of some sense that bags are for girls. I backed into the decision. In the late ’90s I was living in Back Bay as a recently divorced dad of two little kids, and a push Xootr scooter was my primary travel device. I’d whip down Commonwealth Avenue every morning, throw my son on the front after picking him up from nursery school, and unabashedly bring the scooter into even the most important meetings.
But how to get my stuff from point A to point B when I required both hands to drive? A Coach leather brief case had gotten me through important jobs in the past. But I soon found that trying to lug that thing on the scooter was highly dangerous, causing erratic driving and profound hand cramps.
For years I rode with a simple Kenneth Cole. They called it a messenger bag but I knew it was a murse. So did all my friends who made fun of me.
I eventually got remarried, moved, and put away my scooter and replaced it with a Volvo sedan (a truly great car just by the way). I also started carrying a laptop regularly, which meant I needed a bigger and more durable bag. I settled on a Jack Spade number because I could get a bright orange that said, “Yeah, I am wearing a murse—and damn proud of it, you #$%!”
Then, two years ago I was writing a story about an amazing artisan in the South End of Boston:
As a young girl growing up in Taiwan, Meichi Peng found her passion for design. When she noticed that the collar on her grandfather’s favorite shirt had become frayed she took matters into her own hands—using the skills she learned in school and her mother’s old sewing machine she brought the shirt and her grandfather triumphantly back into the world of fashion.
I immediately bought a Meichi Peng bag for my wife for Mother’s Day, but it wasn’t her style, so I went back and traded it for probably the most expensive and most beautiful hand-stitched murse on the market.
Let me tell ya, fellas, once you go murse you will never go back. Specially if it’s a beautiful Meichi Peng boy bag.
My current Murse:
(Amazon affiliate links)