"Here comes the next bag!" Those who like to enjoy their afternoon beer in spring weather on a bench outside, rather than inside one of the usual bars of Neukölln, might find themselves reflecting back to childhood playgrounds. When did jute bags become unfashionable and get replaced by kid's Turnbeutel [drawstring bag, Ed.]? "Almost everyone walks around with one of these blue satchels now. It reminds me of the appalling PE classes I had back in elementary school," says Christian, who's been living in southern Berlin for a while now.
I'd like to be a kid again... In a fashion sense
Although the drawstring bag has its downsides, such as struggling with the drawstring or spending half an eternity finding your wallet - they don't have any inside pockets, after all - it nevertheless promotes gender equality. Even if a beared man with a button-up shirt might not carry a handbag dangling from his wrist, the drawstring bag remains a gender-neutral and entirely unproblematic accessory. After all, when we were still in elementary school, everyone wore trousers and a t-shirt, successfully opposing - in spite of gender-normative Disney print sweaters - the eroticization of our bodies. "The drawstring bag is so successful that it's almost wrestled Fjällräven Kanken to the ground!" says Christian, laughing. The practical, square and blue rucksack from Sweden is a child's accessory that swept across the German capital some time ago. To wear ankle socks and carry a Snow White-themed jumper as a woman is to have perfected one's outfit. Then all you have to do is skillfully turn your toes inward while smoking a cigarette in front of a bar, and you'll look like the Berlin chic version of the loathsome self you were during your elementary school years.
As a man, by contrast, you can either indulge in the youthful sailor style, which is characterized by a striped shirt, geeky, round glasses and skinny jeans rolled up at the bottom. Alternatively, you can feast on grandpa's wardrobe. "That's the paradox," says Christian. "A lot of guys here wear wool jackets and green corduroys - just like their grandpas." Even the meditative rubik's cube is still popular. Generally speaking, you should always carry some kind of game or craft in your drawstring bag. But since children in the meantime now play with cellphones, even smartphones are allowed as an expression of ahistorical absurdity.
The Eternal children of generation Y
Whether youthification or geriatrification is in vogue, the question remains: from where does this apparent fear of expressing one's own adult corporeality stem? Generation Y, to which many of the residents of the scene-district Neukölln belong, isn't unfoundedly charged with running away from its responsibilities and falling back into a pseudo-idyllic child's world. Why should anyone, the beer-drinking spectator quietly asks himself, want to be reminded of one's appalling school years? Unfortunatelly, the predominantly popular nostalgia-wave has finally gotten hold of childhood, so that when we look at the discolored photos in the family photoalbum, we only see the cool, faded t-shirts, rather than remember the woeful PE classes.
The drawstring bag is so popular in Berlin, that even an electronic label was named after it. Oliver Schories, Be (original Mix), 2013.
Maybe the hide-and-seek game between children's and grandparents' wardrobes is just an expression of a general sexual uncertainty. The gender role of men - thanks to emancipation and gender studies - is luckily no longer served to them on a silver platter, which could be why some would rather pull back to emulate the clear delineations that existed during elementary school, or flee the pandemonium of dating by being grandpa's doppelgänger. But women by no means promote a Lolita-delirium with their girlish outfits; in Berlin, they don't even come close to the childhood fanatisicm of Japan with their ankle-sock-and-drawstring-bag movement.
Just as with all trends, childhood-nostalgia will soon have to make way for its glaring opposite: a hypersexualized wave of push-ups and muscle-shirts. Until then there's luckily enough time to speculate about the return of the neck pouch and scout school satchel. Up until now they haven't been spotted in Neukölln, but it won't be long before people rediscover these green-pink-blue monstrosities while browsing in the attic. And for the bright neon retrotrend, a scout school satchel would fit like a glove.