Totem Collective began when four young men from Asia and Scandinavia—all with backgrounds in fashion and design—set out to create the tote bag they had always wanted. A minimalist aesthetic, functionality and versatility are the guiding design principles of the brand.
The bags, which have adjustable straps and a top zipper, all come with “Totem patches,” interchangeable panels that are easy to attach and remove from the bags. The patches are made of different materials— from feathers to aluminium to canvas—and allow for amazing personalisation and customisation, with owners encouraged to doodle on them.
To create the campaign for the launch of the original bag, the team collaborated with the visionary Chinese photographer Ren Hang, a good friend, who died in February this year. They took the Tote 01 to Beijing, where Ren was based, and had him photograph naked young Chinese models with the bag.
They also used his gorgeous images in a book titled Bao, which in Chinese can mean bag, baby, treasure, embrace or explosion, depending on the intonation.