Devised so that unassuming shoppers would buy more products they don't need to meet the minimum spend, the gift with purchase is often not even that worth it. But as an accessory, it has now been given a greater purpose in life than languishing in a closet somewhere or helping retailers turn a profit by waging psychological warfare on consumers.
A brief history of the toiletry-bag-as-real-bag: The year was 2015. The vibe was right, the aesthetic was strong, and pulling out a Glossier-pink bubble-wrap pouch in a bathroom could ensure that you'd have seven new best friends flanking you in seconds. (Still does.) Then super stylist Jayne Min carried hers out in the open—not as a cult chick magnet to be saved for times of grooming, but as a proper receptacle—and nothing was ever the same.
Then Leandra Medine trotted hers out.
And finally, last week, while I was in Paris for the 2017 Pirelli calendar, I saw Dries van Noten's Gallic doppelgänger with an Air France lavender dopp kit nestled in the crook of his gray-flannel-upholstered arm. (No photo available, because if there is any country I will be banned from, it is Nicaragua.)
It makes perfect sense, or at least a lot more sense than some other things fashion people do. Wash bags are waterproof, designed to withstand being chucked into carry-ons that might or might not arrive at their owner's destination, and are the appropriate size for your phone, keys, and cardholder, but also squishable enough to cram in un morceau of beef jerky or two. But at the same time, the conceit is that there must be some obstacles to acquisition, such as no international shipping (soon, soon, my precious) and flying business class.
Like that's going to stop us. For this is America, and if there is a will, there is a way to buy it.