torstar file photo


This limited-edition tote by Anya Hindmarch, $18, will be available in June at Holt Renfrew.


A trip to the grocery store is becoming a lot more fashionable as consumers look to designer totes to bag their greens and express their style.

Hermès, Stella McCartney and Consuelo Castiglioni of Marni are among the top designers now offering reusable shopping bags that are chic and pricey.

The bags are meant to give shoppers an alternative to paper or plastic without sacrificing style. On the other hand, those who say that limiting one’s consumption is key to tackling garbage and pollution problems — the first of the three Rs is “reduce,” after all — will no doubt find such bags ironic at best.

The Silky Pop Hermès bag, which will go on sale in the United States this summer, has a price tag of $960 US. Made of hand-wrought silk, it collapses into a wallet-size pouch of calfskin.

Castiglioni’s foldable nylon bag retails for $843. The Stella McCartney organic canvas shopper sells for a mere $495.

Reusable shopping bags — until now mostly confined to farmers’ markets and health food co-ops — have increased in popularity as cities consider banning the use of certain plastic bags and encourage shoppers to do more for the environment.

Earlier this year, San Francisco became the first major U.S. city to ban the use of non-biodegradable plastic grocery bags.

Since then, cities from Boston to Berkeley have taken up similar proposals. Los Angeles County is studying options ranging from an outright ban to better education on recycling.

While the designer bags are eye-catching, cheaper totes are also grabbing attention.

The “I’m Not a Plastic Bag’’ by British handbag designer Anya Hindmarch goes for $15 US, though it has fetched 10 times that much on the EBay auction website.

This month’s Vogue magazine urges fashionistas to become more bag-wise.”No loitering, girls,” says contributing editor Sarah Mower. “Today, let us go out and harness the power of fashion to change the way the nation shops.’’