The best in tote design inspiration

Tote bags have become so ubiquitous that it’s hard to remember a time when we weren’t all carrying them. Environmentally friendly, sturdier than a plastic bag, roomier than a handbag, less of a commitment than a backpack – tote bags are the perfect accessory to meet the demands of our inner Goldilocks, and the added bonus is that they look good too.

Tote bags are also a blank canvas, making them the perfect vehicle as branded merchandise that people will actually want to wear and use. (Check our post of practical tips on how to print your own custom totes; and this post on why they’re great for your business.)

Producing printed bags for your business is a smart investment and can turn your loyal customers into walking billboard for years to come – here are some great examples of brands with killer designs that we love to see out and about:


Gallery tote bags are one of the more frequently sighted styles of tote, as they are a great way for people to signal their cultural pursuits to the wider world. The black ICA design is notable for its deliberately retro design, featuring warped lettering that calls back to the gallery’s anarchic 70’s heydey.

London Review of Books

Books and their associated institutions are another popular category of tote bag, and while the bottle green Daunt tote was the longtime king of the bougie literary crowd, the deep blue design of the London Review of Books has slowly begun to overtake it. Reinforced for the sturdiness needed to haul around all those esteemed tomes, this is a bag for those that mean literary business. (It’s bulky appearance is also reminiscent of a jute bag, another great, sustainable option for printed bags.)

St John

For foodies in London, St John has achieved something like cult status. What could be better for their fans then, than to carry home a bottle of their esteemed Merlot in an organic cotton tote proudly printed with the restaurant’s signature pig logo.

Liberty of London

Liberty are most famous for their floral prints, and so it makes sense that their tote bag design is focused more on pattern than a graphic design – the printing here is so precise that it really looks like the bag is made from floral fabric. This bag is an affordable slice of Liberty heritage for customers who are just starting their relationship with the store.


Rough Trade

The Rough Trade tote bag offers an environmentally friendly alternative to their world famous carrier bag design. The power of Rough Trade’s branding means that customers can proudly showcase their discerning music taste whenever they use the bag, even if it’s mostly full of their weekly food shop.



Arty food magazine Luncheon have created a sturdy tote bag specifically designed for picnicking, speaking to the founding premise of the magazine (good conversations over good food). Featuring inner pockets designed to fit bottles of wine and even a baguette, this is tote bag functionality dialed up to 10.

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A day for picnics and reading in the shade of a tree…Luncheon bags with pockets for bottles, baguettes and flowers and a magazine. See stockists for mags and bags at Photograph by @mehran_pakgohar #luncheonmagazine #issue6 #kerryjamesmarshall #aculturalserving 🥖🍓🍷🌾

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The New Yorker

The New Yorker tote bag is perhaps the most iconic branded tote bag out there, and has reached cult status in part due to the fact that it is only available to subscribers. This means that carrying it really does make people feel they are part of a special club, and as a result has driven a huge amount of business to the magazine.


Opening Ceremony

The Opening Ceremony tote bag is even more of a prized item now that the retailer has announced the closure of their physical stores. The simple printed design has always been cool, but what makes this design extra special is the metal D-ring stitched into the straps, perfect for clipping your keys to, or perhaps your adorable tiny pup.


Want to create custom printed bags for your business? ICON Printing offer fast turnaround printing on tote bags and a range of garments, counting a number of clients in the coffee trade, as well as clients ranging from such as WeWork to Boiler Room and the Tate. Get a quote in 2 minutes online.